Kayal in Nottingham is an Indian restaurant in our city that I have had my eye on for a while. I have heard good things about it and each time I walk along Broadway I keep on meaning to pause and stop in. Recently on a leaving do at work, we found the opportunity to cross the threshold and dine, perhaps not the best moment to dine as we had sampled a few beers on the way there. However nonetheless we were all up for it and squeezed ourselves in and around the only table we could find.
One of my mates who had been here a few times told us all that we had to get something with seafood as that was their speciality.
Did we listen? Well not really, although I was to order the Fish Soup, was he right? as it happens I think that he was!”
They do say on the website that the restaurant specialises in ‘The Kerala Backwater Cuisine. I have read that Kerala is known as the “Land of Spices”, and that the food of Kerala is spicy, hot and aromatic. This all sounds good to me.
So anyway what did we eat?
“Starters for 7”
Quite a few of us opted for a bowl of the Kayal Fish Soup, this was a great dish but it almost destroyed me with it’s spice and deep pungent flavour.
The menu described this a soup made of “mixed seafood, flavoured with coconut milk, cumin seed, curry leaves and crushed pepper, tempered with mustard”. I imagined a thin spicy soup broth filled with pieces of seafood, but what arrived was a much deeper and thicker soup with a few bits of shrimp at the bottom,
It was most certainly packed full of fish flavour and it was also hot and peppery, almost more like a rasam. I did enjoy it slurping my way to the bottom of the bowl, but it was so hot I had quite a sweaty brow by the time I had finished and an overwhelming desire to step outside for a breath of cool air and some respite from the spicy heat enveloping my body.
I liked it fine enough but it was not quite what I expected.
Would I recommend that you try it? Hell yeh!
One of the group went for the Banana Boli which was described on the menu thus; “Banana slices are dipped in a batter of rice flour with black sesame seeds and crispy fried”.
I would never have considered ordering this but I had a bite and it was actually quite nice. I was surprised as it is pretty much a ripe banana coated in flour and deep fried.
It seemed to be more of a sweet snack to me and that is how you usually find it on the streets, to turn it more towards a savoury starter you need to be dipping it into those pots of spicy dip that it comes with while chomping on a bit of pickle.
Another dish that I would not personally thought to order were the Chicken Puffs which were described by my friend who did choose them ‘as kind of like a spicy chicken sausage roll’.
This is a good reason why it is good to dine with a group as you get to try stuff outside of your own culinary box of tastes.
On the menu they don’t even try to make this sound any less glamorous than it is; “Tasty chicken filling in puff pastry served with salad and chutney”.
As it happens the same ‘salad and chutney’ that you get with those deep fried banana things.
Time for a Main
Thalasserry Chicken Biriyani
I really should have ordered one of the Fish based dishes but I didn’t as I was all over the chance to eat a Biriyani (and not just because I did not want to pay extra for rice) On a recent research trip for MyFoodHunt in India I found myself with a new respect for the humble Biriyani and I was keen to see if I could find something authentic to match that experience back here in Nottingham.
There was nothing that was particularly wrong with this dish, yet it did kind of underwhelm me. I was expecting much more, it kind of felt like a bowl of rice with the chicken mixed into it. Perhaps this has been prettied up too much, it seemed to have lost a little of it’s authenticity. I couldn’t complain about the amount of chicken that was buried beneath that rice, or the way that it had been cooked with a really nice spicy gravy. It was more that it was buried so deep, and that it seemed a little disparate from the rice as if they had only recently met.
To be honest I was kind of expecting to be disappointed, so perhaps I chose the wrong thing from the menu and perhaps my thoughts were already a little jaded before it came out from the kitchen. It was probably really good but the spice of that soup and the ever swelling belly filled with lager was groaning and complaining with each mouthful, I should have had something simple.
One of the best dishes I tasted on the table was the Kozhi Kuramulagu also known as Keral Style Pepper Chicken. I wish that I had ordered this instead, if I come back I most certainly will!
The description on the menu was very simple “Boneless chicken cooked in a black pepper based sauce with onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cashew nuts“.
It is hard to describe how much better it tasted. I will try, the bowl was packed with shredded chicken in a lovely thick sauce that was kind of a spicy tangy gravy. It was tart and almost citrusy, which probably comes from the traditional marinade for this dish that includes lemon juice.
Despite my misgivings on the things that I chose to eat, I did enjoy eating at Kayal and I would come back better prepared and pick all the good stuff I missed out on.
There are apparently four Kayal restaurants in the country, this one on Broadway in Nottingham, and three others in Leicester, Leamington Spa, and in Surrey.
Kayal in Nottingham is located at
8, Broad Street
Ph: 0115 9414733