Lucky for Burt Morton, his taste for spicy Indian food can be appeased just down the street from Guitar Center, where he sells professional audio recording equipment. Since Taste of Kerala opened in June at 5850 Mayfield Rd., Mayfield Heights, he’s been a lunch hour regular, picking up one of his favorites, pepper chicken or chili chicken.
Those dishes happen to be the spiciest on the menu, owner Suchithra Pillai’s husband Anil Kumar said. "If you’re not used to it, you will sweat," he said, smiling. On a hotness scale of 1-10, the two menu items are 8s.
But Morton also likes a mild dish called iddly sambar, rice dough steamed cakes, so just call him a fan.
Suchithra Pillai, a former caterer, follows the Kerala tradition of spiciness, refusing to Americanize her recipes. She and her family are natives of Kerala, located on the coast of southwest India. They moved to Cleveland 18 years ago, and live in Solon.
If the heat comes as a surprise to some customers – even though the restaurant features a huge mural announcing, "We serve authentic southern Indian dishes" – she and her husband hope it’s a pleasant one – pleasant enough to fuel repeat business.
But she also features menu items of particular interest to traditional Indian customers – goat in brown curry and goat omelets, available on Saturdays and Sundays. "Goat is one of the most popular meats in Kerala, India," Kumar said. "There it’s called mutton."
An item popular among customers of all stripes is the samosa, which is dough filled with potato and peas and then deep-fried. They sell about 200 a day at 75 cents apiece. The number swells to 600-700 a day during Ramadan, Kumar said, when some mosques place large orders.
Taste of Kerala is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 440-461-9212 or 440-461-9242. Walk-in customers have access to a comfortable waiting area.