Kayal and the Hairy Bikers

December 13, 2011

I’ve been a big fan of Kayal since it first opened and have got to know Jaimon Thomas and his team well as they have expanded from their Leicester base to open in Nottingham and Leamington  Spa.  But sometimes you just don’t get round to going back to your old favourites. After a gap of around six months I’ve been twice in the last couple of weeks and am pleased to say it’s in great form.

I tried a few new dishes including a super fish soup that was as smooth and flavoursome as a classic lobster bisque, a fiery starter of adipoli kozhi – tender chicken pieces with chunks with onions, black pepper ginger chillies and shavings of coconut, and main courses  such as pala beef chaps which is beef with mushroom pepper sauce and spicy beans, spicy potatoes and crunchy matchsticks of bread.  Other favourites were consistently good.  Kottayam egg fry doesn’t exactly sound over appealing – “batter fried boiled egg with chutney” – but is a complete delight, with heavenly freshly-spiced sauce. Tilapia pollichattu – the fish being wrapped in banana leaf which seems to seal in in falvours and succulence – features another superb spice mix.  Ammmachi piddiyum kozhiyum was a great chicken dish served up with rice dumplings in coconut sauce – the dumplings were fairly anonymous and  too glutinous to my taste but again the spicing in the dish was top-notch.

The Hairy Bikers with Jaimon Thomas (right) and colleagues outside Kayal

The restaurant seems permanently packed and there’s a great buzz about the place. I’ve heard some complaints of service being slow – though I’d attribute this more to fresh food and busy-ness rather than a staff attitude problem. Prakash heads up front of house in Leicester and I’ve rarely met someone more committed to customer service.

Anyhow I’m pleased to give them a further plug especially as they feature on TV this coming Friday 16 December at 3.45pm in the Hairy Bikers Best of British programme on BBC2. Jaimon Thomas used to zoom around Kerala on a bike and his old Royal Enfield has pride of place in the restaurant.  The Hairy Bikers were there though to learn dosa making skills  – and it’s worth bearing mind by veggies disappointed when Kayal morphed from the vegetarian Halli that its masala dosas are great,  up there with best I’ve ever tasted.

The HB’s visit follows on from Jamie Oliver visiting Paddy’s Marten Inn and Hugh Fernely Whittingstall’s recent visit to Indigo which included a dosa-making stint at a lavish wedding at De Montfort Hall (still available I think somewhere on 4OD).  Great to see our restaurants recognised in this way.

8 Responses to “Kayal and the Hairy Bikers”

  1. fred said

    Err…the link takes you to a web site called “tamari Bikini.com “…


  2. Ed said

    Kayal is consistently good.
    Hope you have tried the adipoli adhu, the lamb version is stunning!
    Just discovered this great blog – well done!
    As a fellow Hasbean customer i hope you have got to try their Bolivian Machacamarca – now out of stock but simply superb.
    Keep up the good work


    • riponia said

      Thank you. I have had the lamb version several times which is why I thought I’d try the chicken. Such wonderful depths of flavour in these dishes. And thanks for the Hasbean tip – I’ve not tried the Bolivian but I’m due to place an order this week so I’ll have a look. Even allowing for postage costs I think Steve’s coffees are good value. Many delis offer coffee beans that may have been hanging around for weeks and are £3 or £4 for maybe 125g. Hasbean’s are not only a great selection, they are oasted to order and get to you in two days in great shape.


  3. Ed said

    even better if you roast them yourself!


  4. riponia said

    Sorry about the bum steer on this – the programme was a day later than indicated and actually went out today, Friday. Worth seeing though – the 10 minute section on Kayal was quite enlightening if you’ve every wondered about making a dosa. If you to the BBC iplayer it’s programme 25 in the series, the one focusing on breakfasts.


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