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Sneha Xavier and Sajith Philip

MALAYALAM Restaurant

“We were working for a group of similar restaurants in the East Midlands, but we had our own ideas with different recipes and approaches, it had always been a dream to open our own restaurant, so when we researched the market and found that there were no Indian restaurants offering authentic Kerala cuisine in East Sussex, we decided to open – here in Eastbourne.

We moved here in 2019 but set the business up just after the first lockdown in June 2020, we were offering deliveries and take-aways through the various lockdowns, which really helped us because it allowed our customers to get to know our food, in turn they gave us good reviews, and we are now delighted to be number one among Indian restaurants in the whole of East Sussex and No 1 restaurant in Eastbourne according to Tripadvisor. We are very grateful, and we still have the same people coming to us who are now regulars – their word of mouth really mattered, and it helped us survive through the lockdowns.

As of April 2021, we have been fully open as a restaurant offering the finest Kerala cuisine, we still have a 2 meters social distancing rule but are very much back to normal and with local hotels being busy again we are attracting people from all over the country. We are very grateful for the good reviews we receive on TripAdvisor; it’s helped people decide to come to the restaurant, taste the food and be completely impressed.

There are 28 states in India. We come from the south part of India and our state is called Kerala where at the South side of Kerala you witness the Triveni (three) Sangamam (meeting) of three seas – Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea. The waves of three seas strike with each other, and fall apart, and one can distinguish the waves by their different colours, through the naked eye. Our cuisine, culture, traditions, and languages are very different from the other states in India.

Both Sajith and I are engineers, I’m an electronics engineer and Sajith is a computer science engineer, we came to the UK as students, studying business management In information systems and computer security. I wanted to do something different, the normal 9 to 5 didn’t suit me, I’m more of an entrepreneur and I was sure that if I could showcase the food from Kerala to the English people, it would be a hit as it’s so different.

I learned many things as a waitress from the restaurants I’ve worked and when we created our menus, we took inspiration from our Mums who have great recipe books, so we shared their recipes and added to them, making them our own. It’s been a challenge employing chefs from Kerala, even though there are local chef’s that are familiar with Indian food, they are not familiar with Kerala – it’s very different and unique. You need a special licence to recruit people from Kerala, we now have that licence so we can recruit people from Kerala and that makes things easier for us, as they know the area and have the exact taste we need, and they know how to improvise it into our way.

I come from a district called Kottayam and Sajith comes from Pathanamthitta – we all have our own special dishes in each district as well. My district (Kottayam) specialises in appam breads and chicken curries and in Pathanamthitta they specialise in duck curries and parotta bread. We also know and serve what specialities are in our 14 districts of Kerala.

I recommend the fish dishes and would say that our best dish is Ammachiyude Meen Pollichathu which is fish wrapped in banana leaf – people love this dish and it’s been very popular ever since we opened the restaurant.

I love our customers reactions and I really enjoy meeting people that come to the restaurant, we have a lot of customers that have visited Kerala so they know what to expect, they know that parotta and appam bread is only available in Kerala restaurants, they know our dishes and are so very fond of them – they can taste the difference and appreciate that we offer vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.

The name of our restaurant MALAYALAM is not related to Malaysia or Malaya, it’s a language that we speak in Kerala, it’s also a palindrome which means it reads the same backward or forward.

I’m enjoying every day and learning every day, I love talking to our customers, explaining the dishes, and educating them on the beautiful food and tastes that come from Kerala.”

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About the business

MALAYALAM, opened by entrenched food fanatics, brings authentic rustic Kerala flare blended with exciting dining experience and has become the new hot spot in East Sussex. This eatery from Kerala offers traditional Kerala fare in a tranquil and home feel inviting atmosphere.

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