Tharavadu: Authentic Keralan Cuisine in Leeds

I was apprehensive about eating out after lockdown, and unsure whether it would be an experience I would enjoy.

After nearly 4 months without eating out, dinner last night at Tharavudu, an authentic Keralan restaurant in the heart of Leeds, was a real treat. 

On arrival, we were asked to use the hand sanitizer, something that is becoming a habit, and were asked to pick up a paper menu. We were then directed to our table (by a waiter wearing a visor, and via a one-way system) and were left to decide what to order. As we pondered about what to pick, we realised that whilst our table had a lot of space around it, with no worries about being on top of other diners, it didn’t feel weird, and there was still a great atmosphere in the restaurant. 

After a few minutes we ordered our drinks. I stuck to my standard glass of H2O on the rocks, whilst my friend opted for a summery mango cider, which was apparently incredible. As we sipped on our drinks, we decided what to eat. The menu is large, and in my opinion, not that easy to read. Despite this, it didn’t take us long to choose our food. 

To nibble, we opted for the pre-meal snacks and pickles. This, the waiter explained, is an authentic village tea shop special. It included a range of pappadoms, pakkavada (rice and gram crackers) and banana chips, and a selection of chutney and pickles. We enjoyed the unusual mix of flavours and textures. A great start to the meal. 

For our mains, we decided to share a few dishes. We opted for the ‘mix uthappam’ which was described as a South Indian pizza but was more like a vegetable pancake. We thought it was tasty, and again enjoyed experimenting with the chutneys. To go with this, we also opted for the mutter paneer, which was a creamy curry with peas and paneer (homemade cottage cheese). I loved how creamy the dish was, and thought the spice level was spot on, but I would have loved some naan bread to dip into it. We also opted for the masala potatoes, which were like the familiar Bombay potatoes we are served in other Indian eateries. I enjoyed the combination of flavours and the authenticity of the dishes (no chicken tikka in sight). 

To finish, we ordered some mango kulfi, which was super refreshing and helped to clean our palettes. However, I did think that £4.89 for a scoop of what in all intents and purposes is ice cream, was pretty steep. 

Overall, we had a lovely evening at Tharavudu. The food was tasty, and the service was excellent. I thought that the price of the dishes was a little high, but as Tharavudu is not your average Indian restaurant, we both agreed that the price was acceptable. We found the ‘COVID-19’ experience absolutely fine and would recommend eating out to others.

I am already looking forward to my next meal – just need to figure out where! 

Photographs by Gemma Bridge.

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