Hidden in plain sight, the KAYAL restaurant looks like a typically unassuming Indian restaurant nestled away down Broad Street in the heart of the Lace Market – yet a meal here certainly leaves an impression. Its unimposing exterior hides a wonderful menu full of Indian cuisine that most people are unlikely ever to have heard of. You won’t find a chicken korma here, and that’s no bad thing. Instead we are treated to the fantastic regional delicacies of the Kerala territory in southern India.
Upon gazing at the menu, the most striking element was my complete lack of knowledge about any of these dishes. With the obligatory poppadoms ordered it was time to try and work out the menu. I opted for the ‘Ammachi Pidiyum Kohziyum’, an extravagant poultry dish matched only by its complex name. Arriving at the table, you could be forgiven for thinking that the portion sizes seem a little inadequate, although after several helpings it proved deceptively filling. Coated in earthy Indian spices, the chicken was succulent and tender and the sauce was rich without being overwhelming – a genuine pleasure compared to many heavy flavourless sauces out there.
Accompanying my meal was a side of steam-cooked rice dumplings in a white sauce that perfectly complimented the heat and spice from the chicken. Having chosen to disregard portion control, I ordered extra dishes, including some of the best okra I have ever eaten and a paratha flat bread. Both were exceptionally tasty and completely unnecessary, as the sauces from both the dumplings and chicken were beginning to make their whereabouts known in my stomach. I am not normally a man to give in to my expanding waistline, but the KAYAL was doing its best to challenge this.
The restaurant’s decor is simple, if not characteristically Indian, with old wine bottles sitting proudly on dusty shelves. I turned up with 5 other friends at 7.30pm on a Thursday evening and the place was buzzing with chatter and swollen stomachs. The KAYAL manages to be group friendly, accommodating to students and families and is both relaxed and intimate. The prices are reasonable, if a touch expensive, but the service and food is exemplary. So if you want to support the most British of national dishes – The Indian Curry – make your way down to the KAYAL Restaurant and you won’t be disappointed.