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ECHO – March 05, 2008 - Delicious - and Healthy, too!
By Sally King

Keralam
The Keralam restaurant specialises in South Indian cuisine- so don’t get confused it with the Indian restaurant fare to which you may already be accustomed

If you crave an industrial-strength vindaloo, Keralam is not for you. But if you’re looking for interesting blends of subtle spices, you are unlikely to find any where better in south Essex.

The central Southend restaurant is small and simply decorated with a few bright parasols and pictures.

We called in early on a Monday evening, expecting to be dining alone, but found other diners already there. Others joined us as the night went on and most appeared to be regulars, clearly known to the waiter, which came as no surprise.

For the main course, my daughter chose Kerala Khozhi Masala, dry spiced chicken served in a thick sauce, with a separate plate of pilau rice.

I went for masala dosa – a huge pancake made of rice and lentil flour, stuffed with spiced potato and onion, served with sambar and coconut chutney. We also ordered side dishes of okra, beans with coconut and peshawari naan.

While we waited for feast to arrive, we enjoyed popadums with home made chutnies, far tastier than the usual spiced treats.

The main courses came quickly and we were bowled over by the quality and quantity – yes we over ordered. The ends of my rolled-up dosa hung three inches over each end of the dinner plate. That alone would have been more than enough for me. Tilly’s masala was an equally generous portion.

However, the thing which marked out all the dishes was the delicate flavours – and the commendable lack of grease.

The okra, or ladys fingers were tasty, but the green beans with mustard seeds, ground coconut and curry leaves exceeded our expectations.

The peshawari naan, too was delicious without being drowned in oil. This is not surprising as the restaurant states its key objective is to offer healthy food, using less oil, sugar and artificial additives and more natural herbs, spices and flavouring.

It certainly worked for us.