Indian places in Balham, London
• Sadya (Keralan)
Excellent Keralan food, mellow, integrated flavours, alternatively deep and subtle. Standout was a dish of mango cooked in coconut milk, the richness of the sauce, the toasty coconut flavour, the subtlety of the spicing, all coming together behind the ripe fruit flavour. I had this as one of many items on their vegetarian sadya, a multicourse meal similar to a thali, except that even advance notice, they would serve it on a banana leaf. Another notable was the paratha, brilliantly crisp and flakey, with the perfect underlying chewiness. My favourite experience of the all the Indian places I've tried so far.
• Hop and Spice (Sri Lankan)
A pleasant vegetable kotthu, given a nice savoury edge from good pan caramelization of onions and a lovely oily richness which I suppose is ghee. A reasonable dish of green beans spiced with fennel. The dishes here all come in small thali-sized portions, requiring one to choose 3 or 4 for a meal. Not a bad concept.
• Nanglo (Nepali)
The assortment of vegetable curries is not bad, allowing one to sample a few items. It's nothing special, but nothing bad either. Flavours came across as fresh and eager rather than with grandmotherly depth. My favourite was probably the pumpkin curry for its soft pumpkin that carried the spice better than most. (Gurkhas will be the next to try.)
• El Kebabish (Pakistani)
A no-frills kebab joint -- a satisfactory kebab roll, fairly moist, decent spicing.
The vegetarian Sadya was £8.50, certainly a much better deal that Kastoori's thali -- had K's sunday special version recently for £8.25. The latter was nice but only 4 items-- a millet flat bread that might have been a touch pasty on the inside but the coarse texture was good, an very good oniony and tomatoey baigan bharta without much of the usually smokey roasted aubergine flavour, a delightful tangy, spicey yogurt soup, and a soft mung bean and daal rice -- whereas Sadya's namesake was more varied and broad, with half a dozen or more little bowls of food.
check out their website www.sadya.co.uk for the menu.
P.S. you might want to have a look at Malabar Junction, it's a bit closer to you. Enjoyed a chickpea curry there last year and have been wondering if the rest of the menu is any good.