Last weekend an out of town friend, originally from Tamil Nadu, was visiting so it seemed like a good time to try Banana Leaf for some Kerala food. Overall we were quite impressed but would probably order a bit differently next time.
Banana Leaf is a catering business not a traditional restaurant. You need to call the day before and place your order, then pick it up at the specified time. In my previous post I mentioned two tables in the front and speculated it might be possible to eat there. Not so, these tables are only there to hold the food waiting to be picked up.
Traffic was terrible that day so by the time we got the food home it had probably been sitting nearly an hour. This clearly affected some dishes but not others.
Palappam (coconut rice pancakes) were very good and likely would have been even better had it not taken us so long to get home. We asked for coconut milk (packed separately) to go with the appam and it was outstanding, clearly freshly made. The highlight of the meal was appam covered with coconut milk and a sprinkle of sugar. Our biggest mistake was not ordering more of these.
Fish mouly was good with chunks of pomfret in a rather spicy tart red sauce. I thought the sauce was great but the fish suffered a bit from sitting.
Chicken curry was nice, a little different from the usual. The dark brown sauce was coconut based and was flavored with cinnamon, curry leaf, red chili, mustard seed, and ginger.
Avial was very good with quite a variety of vegetables bound together with coconut and spices.
Kappa was another highlight for me. Big chunks of tapioca root were seasoned with coconut, turmeric, mustard seed (and another seed I couldnt identify), and curry leaf.
Channa masala was pretty good with small firm chickpeas in a dark spicy sauce.
The only truly disappointing dish was green beans (not on the menu, it had a long name I dont remember; whats frozen green beans in Malayalam?). These were seasoned with ginger, mustard seed, and other spices but nothing could disguise their mushy texture.
A lesser disappointment were the paratha. These were rather small and thick and by the time we ate them had acquired a leathery texture. Again, these probably would have been good fresh.
The total for all this was under $40. It was probably enough for 10 and would have easily fed 6 very hungry people. I cant wait to try it again.
3582 N Milwaukee Av