Tea Kadai in Lebuh Queen, Penang is made of Malaysia dreams, from the original teh tarik to many other fancy renditions of it.
You’re at risk of becoming a regular here the moment you see kolkattai on the menu. No, it has nothing to do with Calcutta in India.
Tea Kadai has quickly became an overnight social media star for its fascinating take on its tea time menu.
Kadai means shop in Tamil, and the people behind Tea Kadai make it a point to celebrate their Indian-Muslim roots through their food offerings.
Indian Muslims, particularly Tamil Muslims date back to immigrants coming to Malaya from South India. From being traders they ventured into other businesses, particularly food like nasi kandar.
Drawing inspiration from these roots, Tea Kadai serves interesting tea time specials which have quickly became favourites.
Co-owner Mohamed Rizwan explains that his shop introduced the traditional kolkattai because families don’t make it at home any more. The majority of Indian Muslim snacks only appear during the festive season.
Many youngsters today are not even aware of half of these traditional snacks. Tea Kadai is the perfect avenue to re-introduce these childhood favourites.
Kolkattai is a sweet dumpling, made of rice flour, lentils, coconut sugar and desiccated coconut, seasoned with cardamom. At Tea Kadai, these are served with chocolate and are truly a treat.
So what makes the tea here special?
Rizwan says they use fresh cow’s milk without the addition of condensed milk and the tea is specially imported from India. He explored India and learned the many aspects of tea-making in his research prior to opening Tea Kadai.
The teas are served in special glasses deemed the perfect amount per sitting, as they are rich in flavour so a bigger amount would be overwhelming.
Tea Kadai delights in introducing new flavours to the usual conventions. Tea vanilla is popular both with locals and tourists. These tourists end up being regulars for the duration of their stay because of the originality of Tea Kadai’s fare.
Aside from quirky names for their dishes like bangwich and pati roll, Tea Kadai also insists on healthy ingredients. The kolkattai is steamed so it remains nutritious.
The next time you’re in Little India, Penang, do swing by for tea and sample some nearly forgotten traditional Indian Muslim snacks.
68, Lebuh Queen
10200 George Town
Opening hours: 10.30am to 10.30pm
This article first appeared in uppre.com