Maveli, City Centre, Sheffield (61%)


Wednesday 14th September 2016.

Whoa Fat Belly, Onam-ba-lam
Whoa Fat Belly, Onam-ba-lam
Fat Belly had a feed, Onam-ba-lam
The damn thing Gone wild, Onam-ba-lam
No more bananas, man, Onam-ba-lam
Damn near gone blind, Onam-ba-lam
I said oh, Fat Belly, Onam-ba-lam
Whoa Fat Belly, Onam-ba-lam

Onam-ba-lam, sweet cheeks, it’s Onam! Keralan rice harvest festival honouring the king/god Maveli. Put it this way, Maveli not celebrating Onam would equal Cafe Jesus repudiating Christmas. Ella Fitzgerald failing to make whoopee. It’s banqueting style rip-up-the-menu-coz-you-can’t-write-this-stuff-down-without-scandalizing-a-monkey grazing grandeur. The things they can do with bananas…

Seated facing into the restaurant like an eight strong judicial panel we patiently admired our first meagre serving of banana crumbs, accusingly eyeing the panel opposite with their heaped banana leaves. Meanwhile, not a single lithe gymnast/pneumatic bellydancer to score. No word from Bruce Forsyth either. Took a while for the old King Louie jungle VIP treatment to hip-jiggle and thrum…


Eventually, a selection of pickle scoops and one half-baked popodum materialised. Unusual and unexpectedly tame: bitterguard, beetroot, squash, ginger. Then, in procession, slicks and mounds gathered in pleasing ladlefuls, seasoned with smiling Keralan courtesy.

It’s a culinary feat: numberless, triumphant, vegetarian spoonings – the dal and ghee, the sambar soup, a couple of standouts. Though, generally speaking, the servings were timidly spiced and haphazardly choreographed. The rasam hotty, for instance, served subsequent to the rich, sweet, jaggery and lentil dessert and the charming rice pud.

The bad news (apart from the bewildering absence of napkins), only four or so of these many unique and delectable dishes are retained on Maveli’s regular menu. The seventh fairy preserves them a single year in Neuschwanstein Castle till next Onam. Beats one hundred sleeping years I guess. How do you like them apples (or should I say bananas)?




Judge ‘Gonzo’ Pickles
Ian Matthews
Andy Clarke
Kunal Bhagi
James Loukes
Shaun Wild
Chris Illsey
Ashley Rogers


  1. Chris · · Reply

    Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? Ah, yet another banana! Didn’t realise they were so versatile, banana crisps, crunchy banana, banana curry with an honest to God, (or Maveli in this case), banana, to aid the digestion after all that banana. All served up on a banana leaf, what else! Kept all the monkeys happy anyway


  2. Funnily enough, banana is the first item I look for on a menu. A malayan or something of the like, mild and bananary is my favourite dish. It’s only after that omission that I have to go for the butter chicken. Sounds like I missed a treat!


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