I had been meaning for ages to visit the Kerala Café in Shipley. Its opening coincided with my return to the UK from a mammoth trip around the world, which included the infuriating, but totally addictive country that is India. I was having withdrawals from authentic Indian cuisine, with much of the curry in Bradford being of Pakistani origin (also delicious by the by). But I found myself well over a year later still having not been.
A reminder came in the form of the fantastic How Do Magazine, a cultural project launched recently in Bradford by some bright sparks who are showing off exactly what the city has to offer to fantastic effect. The advert for the Kerala Cafe prompted me to book a table for 7 of us on a Bank Holiday Sunday and took business away from the Bharat which is still on my list to visit.
Having done the inevitable sweep of Trip Advisor, my expectations were pretty high. I was ready to face an extensive Keralan menu, and to wait quite a while for the freshly cooked dishes, in a simple surroundings.
To lead you into my review, let me first say that I took no photos of the meal, despite being in the restaurant for over 3 hours… if that gives you an indication of how distracted I was by the food.
With very mixed palettes, we started off with the pickle tray and poppadums to share… given 4 delicious pickles – Ginger, beetroot, mixed veg and mango. All fresh, all tangy and totally more-ish. We washed those down with our BYO beers for those drinking and Naranga Vellom (homemade crushed ginger and lemon drink) for the others.
For starters we had mixed veg platter which included a ‘mini’ masala dosa, onion bhaji, lentil donut and lentil pattie, with coconut chutney and mango chutney. Others ordered lamb ularthiyathu, veg samosa, sweet potato fry and cold spicy yoghurt soup – all of which were outstanding.
Now came the long wait as there were 4 other tables (near capacity) and the restaurant only has 1 very small galley kitchen. Luckily we were chilled out and not in a hurry but I imagine some diners would have got a little irate by the wait…. I suggest you wait until they extend their kitchen before you visit!
For main course, we may have overfaced ourselves with a plethora of dishes. Of particular delicousness was the chick pea curry, the cabbage thoran and the fish curry, with a deliciously tender lamb chettinadu bringing up the rear. We ordered lemon and pilau rice with chapatti and Kerala parota… but many of the breads were not available due to selling out and not being open the following day.
We were all filled to the brim and very happy with the meal and the bill came to a measly £15 per head.
Kerala Café is a must visit place if you like adventurous Indian food, great friendly staff and you are not in a rush!
Location: 139-141, Bradford RoadShipley, United Kingdom BD18 3TB