The Rice Boat on Newnham Road in Cambridge was a first for me. It’s Indian, but with a difference because it specializes in foods from the state of Kerala. The staff were friendly and helpful, and gratified by our appreciative comments. Between us we started with Vada, which were fried lentil doughnuts accompanied by sambar and chutney dips, and Onion Vada, the Kerala version of Onion Bhaji. The texture of the doughnuts was surprising â€“ slightly powdery, like that of cod roe. But it tasted great with the dips. The Onion Vada was a surprise because I’d expected pancakes, but it came looking like deep-fried onion strips. But it tasted like Onion Bhaji.
For main courses we chose pepper chicken thighs thickly coated in aromatic spices and black pepper. It was, as advertised, quite mild. It was also very good. The “fish in banana leaf” looked intriguing. It was kingfish steak fried in spicy onion mix, wrapped in a huge banana leaf and cooked on the griddle. Also good, apart from the odd bone. We had chapatis and a rather appetizing rice with it.
We drank Marktree, an Australian shiraz/cabernet blend which I think was about 14 percent. I found the place very good, with nice ambience and great food. Obviously I’ll return.