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ECHO - April 27, 2005- New world of Indian Food
By Tom King

When is a curry not a curry? When it’s served at the Keralam.

This terrific restaurant represented a discovery for me and my wife that, in foodie terms, verged on Columbus discovering America.

The Keralam introduces to Southend a gigantic range of marvellous Indian cooking that is largely unexplored by us Brits.

The Keralams menu paints a tantalising word picture of the Keralam district, situated in the south west of India.

It is apparently, a place of “green coconut palm and endless rainforests..a tiny sliver of mother India resting on the Arabian Sea” which has “a singular style of cooking unlike anywhere else on the subcontinent”.

Kerala’s lush vegetation means its cooking, while far from vegetarian, concentrates on foods that grow rather than moo or crow.

Kerala’s charming proprietors take great pains to guide you through this unfamiliar food landscape.

We tried one conventional dish, a chicken tikka that proved way above average.

Everything else on the list however was new to us. It included such items as avail (vegetables bathed in coconut and flavoured with curry leaves) spicy Malabar potatoes (cooked with a fresh tomato sauce and Keralan mustard seeds); and nadan dosa, a thick rice and lentil pancake doused in a coconut chutney.

These were no more than a taster, and we’ll definitely be back to sample more of the as yet untried dishes.

Meanwhile, we unhesitatingly award Keralam five stars in every department bar the décor, which is serviceable but low-key.

In any case, the brightly hued food itself fills the restaurant with an array of colour that makes interior decoration superfluous.