The Kerala Group was started by Mr. Haridas, more than 30 years ago. Often described as impresario, restaurateur and philanthropist, he started his career at the Indian High Commission in London and the Lions Group of restaurants. He now owns 12 restaurants and catering businesses in the UK specialising in Keralan South Indian cuisine.
In 2003 Mr Haridas was presented with the prestigious national honour called the “Hind Ratan Award” for services to India in the realm of tourism. His work in the promotion of Kerala, also known as God’s own country, has been marked by him receiving the Tourism Man of the Year in 1999 from the Chief Minister of Kerala. He is the founder and general secretary of The Global Kerala Foundation and is most famously known as the “cultural ambassador for Kerala”. He also heads the Onam Festival, Kerala Tourism Festival, India Week, Soorya Festival and other programmes promoting Kerala and India in the UK. His services to India and most particularly to Kerala have been appreciated by the Asian community in the UK for which he was nominated for “Asian Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite 2002”. Tandav is the latest of the Kerala Group restaurants and we were expecting something special.
The food might be enticing but Sutton High Street is just a rather dull thoroughfare. It’s the order of neighbourhood whose allure is lost on all but those born and brought up here. It seemed a mighty long way from West London, although it does have good transport links from Kingston, Tooting and Croydon.
Tandav is a newly refurbished Indian restaurant which now offers a melange of both North and South Indian food. Its decor is interesting with purple patterned wallpaper and orange accents in the guise of tablecloths and serviettes. Perhaps purple table linen might have worked a little better but the overall impression is striking.
We perused the bill of fare and sought out some interesting South Indian specialities. Do try these as they offer a glimpse of a truly different cuisine from that more often found in run-of-the-mill Indian restaurants.
Iddly are small steamed cakes made of rice and black gram lentils. They are typically South Indian and are often served at breakfast along with sambar and coconut chutney. A great starter for those who love the spongy texture. They are bland alone but the sambar spiked things up.
Chicken 65 is a spicy deep-fried chicken dish popular all over India these days. It’s listed here as either a starter or main and is a speciality. I have seen recipes for Chicken 65 (the origin of the name is lost in the mists of time and everyone I have ever spoken to has a theory), but this was the first time I had encountered it on a menu. The vibrant flavour comes from ginger, cayenne pepper and mustard powder. You’ll need a healthy appetite if you want to enjoy both this and a main course. It’s substantial and moreish.
Erachi Ulathiyathu is a signature dish here. It was devised by Vaishak Nair who has recently taken charge of the group from his father, the aforementioned Mr Haridas. It is described as “lamb cooked in a way you have never seen before”. Well, the method is indeed quite unique and is a two-part process of meat-cooking and coconut-roasting. The end result was a striking dish of tender lamb with an almost barbecued flavour and a bite of pepper. Well worth ordering. It’s evident that Vaishak has an eye for both tradition and innovation.
Fish Molie is a celebrated South Indian dish. In this version king fish is cooked in coconut milk with spices, tomatoes, curry leaves and pepper sauce. It’s a rich and sunny preparation without the overtly fishy taste which can be off-putting to those who know that fish is a health food but who are still not charmed by unfamiliar flavours.
Tandav is bound to be a success if it can educate the locals to expect something a little different from the standard and rather banal curries of the more common Indian restaurants. South Indian cooking is liberally laced with the sunshine of that coastal region, with the fruit of the evocative palm and the bounty from the sea. Dive in and enjoy some fascinating dishes.
260 High Street, Sutton, SM1 1PG
Phone: 020 8642 1833
Visit Tandav here
Sunday – Thursday: 12.00pm – 3.00pm for lunch; 6.00pm – 11.00pm for dinner
Friday – Saturday: 12.00pm – 3.00pm for lunch; 6.00pm – 12.00pm for dinner
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018