Heritage Indian Cuisine, Stafford - Malayali
I just recently discovered this restaurant although it’s been there for four years. Their specialty is the cuisine of Kerala, a state on the spice coast of India with dishes that are quite different from the more familiar Northern Indian cuisine and the Southern Indian vegetarian cuisine. Coconut oil is used instead of ghee, wheat breads are a relatively recent introduction and are not that popular, palappam - fermented rice pancakes with coconut and a little sugar - is a staple bread. Although they produce paratha and chapathi there is no naan on the menu. Tapioca, lknown as kappa, aka yuca/casava/manioc, is a staple starch along with rice. There are very wet curries, broths, really, such as the fish curry, and very dry curries such as beef fry, thorian and avial. There is even a pork dish, pork fry. Payasam is a staple sweet, the South Indian version of kheer that was invented in Kerala; it is made with vermicelli rather than rice.
I’ve been several times. I tried the Sunday buffet when they feature many of the Kerala dishes for $11. I’ve also had some of the same dishes a la carte and on the Kerala Thali which has 9 items on it and I think they were better that way but the buffet is a good way to sample lots of different dishes. My favorites so far are the palappam, great for sopping up the broth of the fish curry, beef fry, duck curry and kacheyamoor, a spicy buttermilk curry.
I think this cuisine is known as Malayali from the common language of the people of the region but that word is never used on the menu. An Indian correspondent says the word Keralan is not preferred.
During the week you will usually be served by one of the owners, at least during the day, and they are happy to talk about the dishes with you. They have just added a chef to prepare Northern Indian and Indian Chinese dishes. I’ve been served by him a couple of times and he really is enthusiastic about his dishes but I haven’t tried any. He assures me that Chinese food, prepared the way Indians do it, is much better than regular Chinese ;).
Most entrees are under $10. The restaurant is open Tuesday thru Saturday, 11:30am to 8pm and on Sunday to 6pm. On Saturday the buffet features the Northern Indian/Indian Chinese menu and on Sunday, the Kerala dishes. The buffet is only until 3pm.
It’s at 3201 S. Main at Avenue B in Stafford. So far as I know this is the only restaurant in the Houston area serving this type of Indian food and there seem to be very few in the US anywhere. If you’re like me and like to experience new cuisines this is a good one to try. I’ll be posting a review on my blog with pictures in the near future.
When I was having the fish curry I was asked if it was too hot; I assured him as a native Texan it was fine with me and he said they really tone it down from how it would be served in India so of course I asked if they would make it hotter on request and he said sure so if you’re a heat-seeker, keep that in mind when ordering dishes.
I saw the sign on the SW Fwy today - it says Heritage Indian Grill (or maybe it was Heritage Grill Indian restaurant) - same people??? I wonder.
Got to be a high rent place compared to where they are now. If they move, I hope they don't dumb down the menu to attract enough business to pay the rent. I'd rather have an out of the way hole in the wall doing something unique.
SInce posting I've also had the Karimeen Fry, Karimeen is a palm-sized fish that is considered a delicacy. It is scored, covered with a paste of garlic, ginger, tumeric and chile pepper among other things; that is allowed to permeate the flesh for a while and then it's shallow fried. Would have been awesome but the fish was over-cooked, unfortunately. I get that all the time at ethnic restaurants so I'm leery of ordering 'fried' fish. Next time I'm going to try the Fish Moily.
The Karimeen came with a full serving of the duck curry and it was even better than what I had on the buffet and is maybe my favorite dish there now. There were globules of the duck fat suspended in the very thick gravy. The frothy Indian coffee is a great way to end the meal.
I still haven't tried any of the rest of the menu but apparently the Indian Chinese dishes are known as Chindian.
It's also on my profile page.
air - that could take a month of Sundays in Houston. I'm up for it.