If your ideas about coconut have been limited to santan and gula Melaka, Kayra is the lesson that will change everything you know about the humble fruit. At TTDI’s bearer of Keralan cuisine, coconut is put on a pedestal, bestowed a gold crown, and praised with kind words no matter the form or colour it takes.
All good meals here should begin with the Kerala Cooler (RM12), a milkshake-like beverage with a base of coconut milk, laced with brown sugar and cardamom. The Spiced Konju (RM18), tiger prawns marinated with crushed fennel and coriander seeds and grilled to a char, should follow closely. You will suck on the prawn head until the juices run out, you will chew on the fractured seeds that graze the sweet flesh, and you will reach for raw red onion to soothe the palate. It’ll be one of the best things you eat in any Indian restaurant in the city.
The clear fish soup with pumpkin, tapioca and raw banana (RM12) is less rousing in comparison but is indicative of a clean, sparkling fish stock. Because of Kerala’s coastal setting, seafood is heavily featured in its cuisine, so I’d suggest focusing on prawn and fish over chicken or mutton. You won’t miss the meat when fronted with the Kerala fish curry (RM30), hunks of tenggiri carefully folded into a smooth, coconut milk-tinged gravy.
'Coconut is the true celebrant here'
In a similar vein is the Chemeen Mangga (RM32), a curry with coconut-marinated prawns and raw mango slices. It’s creamy once again, and a dream when served with white rice. But even better is the Chemeen Ulartiyath (RM33), prawns sautéed in spice paste until dry. It tastes strongly of sweet onion, caramelised with shredded coconut until the sugars seep into the spice paste. There’s a reason the menu claims it’s Kayra’s ‘all-time favourite’ and you’ll definitely want in.
The thoran (RM13), meanwhile, is a classic Keralan vegetable side dish that looks to be deceivingly simple. But the ginger, chilli and onion are given a lot of time over heat for an excellent flavour base. On the day I visit, the vegetables in use are beetroot and long beans tossed in shredded coconut, another trademark of thoran, or for that matter, many Keralan dishes.
Whether stirred into curry, grated to coarse, or melted as palm sugar, coconut is the true celebrant here. And because we live in a country whose people love both curry and coconut, Kayra is a great place to see those two things come together in holy matrimony.
46 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 1
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun, 12noon-3.30pm; 6.30pm-11pm|