i've been to kayal a few times before - the last time my car actually broke down with a punctured tyre outside so missed my starter coming out - so i jumped at the chance when this was suggested as a meeting venue. the south indian kerala cuisine is far from the usual chicken tikka and lamb rogan josh i know and love. i've learnt that since kerala is along the coast of south india where many coconuts grow, there are many delicious seafood dishes as well as the use of coconut in much of the recipes. both of which i always go for when choosing from an indian menu :)
we began with the most unusual indian savoury snacks i've ever had - pappadavada (the spicy, orange poppadoms made with cumin), achappam (the middle honeycomb-like one which was quite sweet), nenthraka varuthathu (banana slices seasoned with turmeric water) and classic poppadoms served with lemon and mango pickles and coconut chutney. i think my favourite combination was the pappadavada dipped in the cool coconut chutney.
of course there had to be a foodie taking a picture of a foodie...
next... starters! i chose my ultimate favourite indian calamari known as cochin squid. i love how it comes out looking like an artist's palette almost as much as the gorgeous crispy but tender taste of the squid. alex and laurie both took my recommendation and had the same... luckily they liked it too :)
next, myself and alex both unknowingly ordered the same alappuzha konju masala dish (foodie faux pas!) whilst laurie chose the njandu curry. the alappuzha konju masala is a prawn curry with coconut, ginger, curry leaves and onions which is really creamy with a real kick - i loved it because the prawns were gigantic!
luckily i'd already tried the njandu curry or i'd have been pretty jealous. this comprises of fresh crab in the shell with coconut sauce and a mix of kerala spices. i remember it being rather messy but worth it for the succulent crab. cue picture of laurie taking a picture...
in the way of carbs, we went for "plain rice and a crazy rice" and two of their fantastic breads - paratha and bathura (paul hollingsworth actually recently visited as part of his bread programme). the naranga choru rice was really fragrant and tasty though i actually preferred the plain rice in comparison to the amount of flavours in my curry. the bathura was blown up like a massive whoopee cushion (for want of a better metaphor) and had an almost sugared texture, whilst my favourite bread for dipping was the pancake like paratha.
the hairy bikers have also been amongst their famous customers - so it was only right to take away a postcard with their faces on it.
as expected a brilliant meal with great company and somewhere i wish i'd reviewed sooner. the only disappointment is the service wasn't as prompt as it has been in prior visits - maybe we just looked too engrossed in "what's your favourite dessert?" and "should lamb and beef been rare or medium?" so since i've got a few other pictures from other visits i thought i'd share them too...
the njandu curry. messy but would definitely try again.
mean porichathu - a spicy marinated whole, but boneless, seabass stuffed with prawn chutney. served with spicy potatoes and lemon rice. this actually wasn't my meal - the word spicy came up far too much for my liking - however i tried a little and the white fish was just gorgeous. (apologies if you don't like pictures of whole fish)
lastly a none seafood dish... the kumarakom duck roast. the texture of the sauce was fantastic and i'd liken it to a rogan josh with more tomato flavours than the creamy coconut in other dishes. i had this with thenga choru - rice with coconut and cashew nuts.
have you ever been to kayal? do you have any indian restaurant recommendations in the midlands? i would definitely recommend paddy's martin dhaba in belgrave leicester.
also if you're midlands based and fancy coming along to our next meet - send one of us a tweet and get involved :)