Recently, we were invited to MTR 1924 at Brickfields to try authentic South Indian vegetarian food from Bangalore, India. Located in the centre of KL's very own Little India and only 5 minutes walk away from NU Central, MTR 1924 delivers simple and delicious dishes with no fuss nor frills.
Here's a little background and history on MTR 1924. In the year 1920, 3 brothers named Parameshwara Maiya, Ganappayya Maiya and Yagnanarayana Maiya left their small town in Karnataka to find employment and found their way to Bangalore. While there, they found work as cooks in homes of the wealthy and prominent people of those time.
4 years later, the brothers (excluding Yagnappa), with help from their employers, opened up a small restaurant called the Brahmin Coffee Club which served up filter coffees and idlis. This was located along Lalbagh Fort Road in Bangalore.
5 years later, Parameshwara Maiya unfortunately passed away, leaving Yagnappa to join his remaining brother in taking responsibility and ownership of the restaurant. For 3 decades, the 2 brothers successfully and passionately brought the restaurant to fame and popularity.
In 1951, Yagnappa decides to go on a tour around Europe to study the standards of cleanliness, hygiene and discipline to be implemented onto their own business. He then raised the standards of hygiene, health and sanitation in these parts of town by introducing sterilisation methods, distributing small booklets on health and proper eating habits and by opening up the kitchen to the scrutiny of customers.
The restaurant was then renamed Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) and the legacy was then continued until today! Interesting right? MTR 1924 in Brickfields is one of many branches they have already established internationally. They have branches in India, Dubai and also Singapore!
Photo by Samad | Don't be alarmed by the empty space; this photo was taken at 3pm, when the restaurant was closed after lunch.
According to Vinuta, the manager of MTR 1924, the chefs in the kitchen were trained for 6-8 years before being sent overseas to the respective restaurants. This is to maintain the standards initiated by the founders almost a century ago!
Photo by Samad | Bisi Bele Bhath (RM9.50)
Moving on to the tasty food. We were lucky to try 7 of their popular and signature dishes! The first being a rice dish called Bisi Bele Bhath (RM9.50). This rice dish is made with lentils, assorted vegetables, spices, curry leaves and tamarind pulp, served with raitha (a common cold vegetable condiment) and papadom. I really liked this dish! Especially eaten together with the raitha! A great combination of hot and cold, melting on your tongue mmmm yum. It also reminds me of very comforting temple food!
Photo by Samad | Masala Dosa (RM9.00)
Next is Masala Dosa (RM9.00), a rice and black gram crepe stuffed with spiced potatoes, laced with ghee and served with green chilli chutney and lentil sambar.
Now I know what most Malaysians are thinking, "What's so special about masala dosa? I can get that at the mamak near my house". Well my friends, the real authentic Masala Dosa is not just made out of the same flour and ingredients you use for every roti, chapati or roti tissue out there. MTR 1924 prides in using different home made flours for a variety of the dosa that they serve up!
So I can guarantee that the flavours that you taste here are completely different and more complex from your typical dosa from the mamak around the corner! The flavours explode in your mouth, especially after drizzling ghee over it! And did I mention that this Masala Dosa is incredibly crunchy? Soft in the middle and satisfyingly crunchy all around! So simple yet so good!
Photo by Samad | Rava Idli (RM8.00)
The next dish we tried was their signature dish called the Rava Idli (RM8.00). There's a bit of a story behind this dish so settle down and let me explain!
In 1943 during World War 2, there was a rice shortage as India was experiencing the great Bengal famine. As we all know, rice is a staple food for most Indians (and generally the whole of Asia really), so when hit with this rice shortage and the prospect of suffering from starvation, the founders of MTR began experimenting with Rava Idli which are steamed semolina cakes made with a mix of yoghurt, coriander, cashew nuts, curry leaves and mustard seeds, served with ghee, chutney & potato sagu.
This innovation led to the most popular dish that MTR 1924 has to offer! I must say that the Rava Idli is something very new for me. It's different and reminds me a lot of the texture of appam aiskrim soda except it's savoury and filled with a diverse set of textures! Recommend y'all trying this out for sure!
Photo by Samad | Filter coffee (RM5.50)
In between our dishes, we were served their Filter Coffee (RM5.50).
I don't know why but when I think of coffee, I don't immediately think of India as a country that produces it and I'm not sure why. But it makes sense that they have their own roasts and beans because heck, India is a massive country with ample resources and landscapes to be able to grow coffee! So silly of me to even think otherwise.
The coffee that the folks at MTR 1924 served to us was great! Nothing fancy, no sugar added, just some very strong filtered coffee and some foamy milk. I'm obsessed with it! Woke me right up too!
Apparently, Yagnappa was quite meticulous and particular about the coffee beans that he served to his everyday customers. He was against using normal and cheap coffee powder, and instead chose the beans, roasted and grounded them daily. He didn't want any loss of flavour to the coffee either and to enhance it, he served it with Buffalo milk.
Photo by Samad | Ragi Dosa (RM9.00)
Next we have the Ragi Dosa (RM9.00) which is a crepe made from millet flour, curry leaves and cumin seeds, served with tangy chutneys. This one is a very simple and light dish, perfect for when you're peckish and want something not too filling. The white chutney is actually made of coconut and is surprising very refreshing with the Ragi Dosa.
Photo by Samad | Benne Dosa (RM10.00)
Another relatively simple one called Benne Dosa (RM10.00) which is served with a dollop of unsalted white butter and chutneys to give it a very rich texture. This is a little heavier than the Ragi Dosa, I think because of the butter. But equally as yummy! It's crunchy too.
Photo by Samad | Onion Rava Dosa (RM12.00)
Our last savoury dish was the Onion Rava Dosa (RM12.00) which is a semolina crepe with onions, green chillies, coriander, cumin seeds, grated coconut and ghee. Served with the green chilli chutney and tangy chutney.
If you want something jam packed with flavour that'll also leave you stuffed and those pants of yours feeling a little tight, then definitely try this mouth-watering dish. It's savoury, crunchy and so fulfilling! For you lot with bigger appetites, they also have another version called the Onion Rava Masala Dosa (RM13.00) which is the same except stuff with spiced potatoes!
Photo by Samad | Kesari Phath (RM6.00)
And for something sweet, we tried the Kesari Phath (RM6.00) which is a thick and sweet dry porridge made with dry roasted semolina, ghee, cashew nuts, raisins and garnished with saffron.
If you're an extreme sweet tooth then maybe you can consume this whole thing yourself but for me, I recommend ordering one of these and sharing it with whoever else is with you! It's so rich in texture and very very sweet too, so 2 tea spoons of this sugary goodness was more than enough for me. Definitely try it though! I reckon this is a very traditional style South-Indian dessert worth trying!
So if you're looking for an authentic South Indian experience that's both incredibly scrumptious and affordable, with quick and friendly service and without worrying about hygiene, I would highly recommend MTR 1924. I'd go back, especially since they're vegetarian (you know, when you wanna be healthy but also want some sinfully delish food!). The next time I have foreign friends over, I will definitely bring them here too so that they can have the most genuine experience of South Indian cuisine. Go try!
69, Jalan Thambipillay,
Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, 50470
Monday - Friday - 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM - 10:30 PM