At last I’ve got round to reviewing a place I’ve been meaning to visit for quite some time. I have heard good things about it and even Chris, one of my very best friends who never recommends anywhere, asked me if I had reviewed it. Good mate he may be but I was tempted to point out that if he had bothered to read the stuff I write then he would know that I hadn’t, but as he once put me up for six months when I went to stay for a week I couldn’t put him through that torture.
Every time I resolve to visit I become sidetracked and end up somewhere else but as the weather was bordering on the tropical I decided that nothing was going to stop me, so I put my head down and ignored all other diversions. What a great decision.
Tharavadu comes from the word for ancestral home and refers to a system of joint family as once practised in Kerala, but has come to mean the family which keeps the values of tradition. By the time I left I felt that I had been accepted into the family myself as the service was so friendly.
There are three versions of the Express Lunch; a vegetable one at £6.95, a chicken at £7.95 and a lamb option £8.45. I have had some pretty duff lamb dishes lately so I decided to put them to the test and that is the one I went for. I love lamb as it’s the meat which seems to absorb the flavour of the sauces in which it is cooked, rather than just end up coated in them. I need not have worried because the meat was done perfectly, being very tender but not so much as to be stringy and fall apart.
The menu describes the Express Lunch as being a small feast with three curries, a side dish, rice of the day, dosa and chutneys. A feast indeed. I decided to abstain from alcohol so had a glass of tap water and a Mango Lassi at £3.25. I love lassi. No, that is not a film about a dog, it is a healthier version of a milkshake with enough background tang to cleanse the palate when eating spicy food. In addition to the lamb curry there was a vegetable korma and the others contained lentil, carrot and plantain. All were delicious, as were the chutneys. The dosa was crisp and light, which was great at lunchtime as chapattis or naan can be a bit heavy to get through the rest of the day.
Although feeling well fed and happily content I couldn’t leave without sampling a dessert. I had noticed Semiya Paysam on the menu, which is a vermicelli based creation flavoured with cardamom and saffron, £3.29. It is like the best rice pudding you have ever tasted, except that it doesn’t have skin, and the cashews lurking beneath the surface added even more flavour. I must warn anyone with a nut allergy that the cashews are not mentioned on the menu, but there is a note advising customers to ask about ingredients before ordering. A black coffee at £1.50 completed the lunch.
Tharavadu has won many awards and it is not difficult to see why. It is not your average Indian restaurant, being one of the more recent breed of regional sub-continental establishments which are such a welcome change from the mainstream.
I enjoyed my lunch so much that I may just treat my mate Chris to a visit the next time we meet up in Leeds. After all, sixteen and a half quid for six months’ rent is pretty reasonable.
Article first published in Leeds Living on 29th May, 2016