We don’t get enough restaurant recommendations for South Yorkshire, so when our mate Fred Watson offered us this review of a South Indian restaurant in Sheffield, we snapped him up.
Many of Sheffield’s curry lovers have bhunas coming out of their ears, with kormas if a left is taken at Hunter’s Bar, and vindaloos if you verge right off Parkway. But where can you find a decent chettinad or masala dosa? The answer is Maveli, a South Indian restaurant making louder and louder noises down West Street. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, nor from the inside, which is comfy and sizeable, though a bit Travelodgey. This place isn’t trying to be sophisticated, it’s trying to put real South Indian food on Sheffield’s map, and it’s making a bloody good go of it.
Typically, a lot of coconut is used in Maveli’s food and while there are chicken and lamb dishes, it is the vegetable and fish dishes that dominate – they still have plenty of poppadoms though, thank God. We started the meal as South Indians would start their day, with idli: steamed dumplings made with a rice and lentil batter. Dip them into the accompanying sambar, a delicately spiced lentil soup (like a thin dahl with an underlying tamarind flavour), and they are transformed into something deliciously moreish.
These were followed by the dosa: a staple food of Southern India, and a speciality of Maveli. A thin crêpe, fried until crispy then stuffed with crushed masala potatoes flavoured with cumin, curry leaves and fresh coriander; served with more sambar, and some fantastic coconut and lemon chutneys and you have the most exotic comfort food imaginable
Bringing up the rear, a creamy paneer and pea curry rich in coconut and masala, yet it was still outmanoeuvred by the chicken chettinad. Perhaps the most famous of South Indian curries, Maveli execute this spicy, tomato dish of loveliness to perfection, using a toasted coconut paste with spices native to the dish’s home and a good whack of garlic. The first mouthful is like being blindfolded and hugged by the Sugar Monster. Don’t get the reference? Just try Maveli’s chettinad.
It’s obvious the guys at Maveli know what they’re doing, they just want more people to know what they’re doing. The prices are reasonable, but the word’s growing, so it’s a good idea to book.