Sorry for the belated report on how Malabar's food went over for my mid-December party (yes, I know you've all been waiting and wondering). First, thanks for all the help!
No real tasting details, this is more about what worked and what didn't for a gathering of about 40, most of whom would not be considered anything near a chowhound. Plain folk, simple folk, in other words.
The parippuvada,lentil fritters, while tasty and would go ideally with drinks with their spiciness, were simply too hard to bite into. Could be done, but too much effort for the payoff, at least for a party. Occasional nibbles were taken, that's about it.
The Malabar Chili Chicken was MUCH too spicy for this crowd, although a small handful of people loved it. Majority was left over.
The unniyappam (neyyappam?)- the little doughnut things you deep in the green sauce- didn't move much at all. I attribute this to the appearance of the green sauce, and maybe the fact these things were doughnut shape? Like I said, this was not a party full of adventurers.
On the positive side, the vegetable puffs and the meat puffs (rectangular soggy-croissant-like vehicles for either seasoned veggies or meat which more resembled something like a sandwich) were big hits, disappeared quickly and I must admit, they were mighty tasty.
And the samosas went fast as well, very popular, although I wouldn't rank them terribly high based on my limited experience.
It should be noted that the Keralan offerings faced some incredibly stiff competition from a Mexican friend of ours who was cooking, throughout the evening, fresh appetizers (sopes, mini tostadas, and something not unlike "kamoosh"- the "uniform" nachos that long-gone La Choza on Howard used to offer).