By Jana Thevar and Ganesh Asirvatham
I must admit I was skeptical when Ganesh suggested that we review Kriya Bhavan. An Ayurvedic restaurant? But isn’t all South Indian vegetarian food Ayurvedic in nature, I asked. However, curiosity got the better of me and we found ourselves there last Sunday.
I was surprised to find that we were the only people there (granted, at 11.30am we were early for lunch by Malaysian standards). I found the ambience lovely – spotlessly clean, neat, cozy and unassuming.
The owner, Suresh, approached us with a big smile and quickly ran through the offerings for the day. He mentioned a 25-course Ayurvedic lunch and asked us if we’d like to try it. Although I was seriously tempted by the tantalizing array of ‘regular’ food which was available for self-serving, I went with Ganesh’s choice as well. After all, I was there to review the ‘Ayurvedicness’ of the food.
Ganesh’s write-up below will go into the details of what was served according to sequence. As a brief overview, the meal started off with five shot glasses of various types of liquids and light starters, followed by raw veggies, then graduating onto the heavier fare like rice and curries. The Ayurvedic lunch concluded with an Indian dessert and a dollop of honey.
I really liked how dedicated and involved Suresh was when it came to his passion. He did a great job of explaining things in detail to customers, such as what each food item is supposed to do for your body per Ayurvedic principles. He’s bubbly and friendly, yet patient and shows genuine enthusiasm in his area of expertise, which is refreshing and rare in these times of sour-faced, grumpy restaurant personnel who couldn’t care less if you choked to death on a mound of rice or found a cockroach in your rasam.
Accustomed as I am to the usual South Indian way of eating banana leaf rice, I found it hard to not mix the courses up and eat them one by one per Suresh’s recommendation. Why are we supposed to consume each course separately? A number of reasons as explained by Suresh:
(1) to enable the system to detox and cleanse itself properly before the heavier food is introduced into the digestive tract, and
(2) to allow the body to produce the right enzymes to digest each type of food individually for maximum health benefit.
As a yoga person and Ayurvedic practitioner, I would say that sounds about right. The food was delicious, fresh and not overcooked, and the combinations were more or less Ayurvedically accurate from what I know, so I give this place the green light. A HUGE green light because damn, I absolutely loved it. I’m definitely going back for more, and repeatedly.
The only fail was the kulfi, or Indian ice cream (not part of the Ayurvedic meal, and according to Suresh it was ordered from an outside vendor). It tasted overpoweringly of condensed milk, and I truly despise cheap shortcuts when it comes to kulfi-making. For me it’s either fresh milk cooked down the traditional way, or it’s not fit to be called kulfi. Needless to say, I won’t be ordering that again.
What Ganesh Says
Kriya Bhavan offers the jaded Indian food connoisseur a heady entrance into the delights of an Ayurvedic meal. Suresh the ever-smiling proprietor took great pains to educate us on the food combinations, as well as the rationale behind it all.
I admit that I paid overmuch attention to the food and taste that the explanation got somewhat left behind. I’ve no choice but to visit Kriya Bhavan again to complete my education. It’s tough being a food blogger but we all must make sacrifices.
But I digress.
The Ayurvedic meal is only available Friday to Sunday. RM15 seems like an acceptable amount for the number and quality of dishes served.
The culinary voyage began with a plate of food and five shots of various liquids. Pay attention dear reader lest you skip a step.
Dishes and Sequence
The plate of food arrived with the shots and we were given strict instructions on how these were to be consumed. I was famished by the time the food arrived but paid enough attention to follow the sequence exactly.
- Banana cooked lightly with grated coconut
- Five shots to be drunk in sequence – date juice, soy milk, buttermilk, spinach juice and rice water
- Brown rice cooked in something or the other – but tasted awesome!
Next, we were told to consume raw items before moving on to the semi-cooked fare, and finally ending with fully-cooked items.
The raw items were:
- Purple cabbage
- Diced tomatoes
- Shredded carrots
- Diced tender banana stem
- Sliced celery
No sequence to consume these, but we were told to eat each item on its own – this rule applied throughout the entire meal experience. The portions are small so don’t worry if raw veggies aren’t quite your jam.
Next came the semi-cooked part of the meal, and there was finally some rice. We were given a sprinkling of moringa powder (lightly sautéed with spices) and some liquid ghee. I don’t know if it was because I was hungry or that I was craving some rice but my oh my, the combination was absolutely dynamite. I was tempted to ask for more, but instead chose to exercise some restraint and bide my time.
Finally, it was time for the cooked portion of the meal. The same brown rice from earlier can be used but if you happen to want more, Suresh will be more than happy to serve you the amount that you desire.
The cooked dishes were moringa avial, green vegetables with lentils and curry. I could see the value of savoring each dish and its individual taste as opposed to merging various items together. My eating time increased and I began to relish the combination of ingredients. I began to chew slowly and truly taste what I was eating.
By this time, I had polished off the rice that was initially served and had to ask for more as the next three dishes (and also the last set) were rasam, sambhar and thick buttermilk curry. I’m not usually a fan of the last two dishes, but this was something else completely.
We got served a small tumbler of yummy payasam, followed by honey to wrap up.
By this juncture I was comfortably full but couldn’t help trying the kulfi especially when we were told it was home-made. Unfortunately, the use of condensed milk negated what would have been a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Kriya Bhavan is an establishment where the food speaks for itself and you don’t really need anything else to enhance your experience. Go now and tell all your friends about this place. We need to support individuals who cook with such passion and dedication.
How We Rate It:
Food : 10/10
General Cleanliness: 10/10
Location (Petaling Jaya, Selangor): 6/10
Will we go back again : 10/10