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The Quilon 
The Indian restaurant in London with authentic regional cuisine
.
41 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1 6AF
.


Added on January 22, 2011
I am glad Sriram Vishwanathan Aylur earned a Michelin Star in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Article added on February 3, 2004 
The Indian restaurant The Quilon, which opened in 1999, is named after what used to be the largest railway junction in the times of British India; it remains a key transport hub today. The restaurant The Quilon belongs to Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces and is dedicated to the authentic regional Indian cuisine of the south-western coast states of Kerala, Goa and Karnataka.

The meals served at The Quilon have not been adapted to the European taste. In India, they are prepared by housewives and enjoyed by rich as well as ordinary people on a daily basis.

Kerala cooking uses fresh seasonal produce, is high on spice but low on oils and without cream. The Quilon imports all key spices such as chilies, peppers and tamarind from India. A traditional dish uses over a dozen of them. Spices are the key ingredients of Kerala cuisine. Goa and Karnataka are the two other regions at the center of cooking at The Quilon. In addition to seafood, chicken and lamb, the restaurant offers a large variety of vegetarian dishes.

A vegetarian lunch at The Quilon, tested in 2003

The evening began with a Rasam, a warm drink from Kerala. It is an ideal appetizer, moderately spiced with tomatoes, peppercorn, red chilies, fresh coriander and tamarind.

As starters, I had a Quilon Salad, a creation by executive chef Aylur V. Sriram. Made up of exotic vegetables in a dressing of coriander leaves, green chilies, curry leaves, lime juice and palm sugar, it further enhanced my appetite.

The salad was followed by a second starter,
a Mini Masala Dosa, a dish primarily from Kerala. It is a thin rice and lentil pancake stuffed with potatoes, tempered with turmeric, mustard seeds and curry leaves. It is traditionally served with Sambhar, a typical pigeon pea lentil and vegetable preparation with mustard seeds, red chilies, fenugreek seeds, tomato, onion, turmeric powder, red chili, coriander powder and tamarind pulp.

Among the many main dishes I tried were two highlights: an outstanding Malabar Vegetable Istew from Kerala and an excellent, rich and spicy Masala Stuffed Aubergine from Karnataka. The Malabar Vegetable Istew consisted of a fine selection of garden fresh vegetables, gently simmered in cream coconut milk with onion, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves. It is ideally accompanied by Appam, a delicious, soft centered, lace-edged rice pancake, also traditionally eaten with lamb. The Masala Stuffed Aubergine was made of a whole aubergine, slit and stuffed with a ground mixture of coconut, red chilies, poppy and coriander seeds, cooked semi dry.

Not my favorite was the Spinach Poriyal, a dish from Mangalore and Kerala with shredded fresh spinach cooked with mustard seeds, whole red chilies, split Bengal gram and freshly grated coconut. It is traditionally served with Malabar Paratha from Kerala, a soft refined flour dough, beaten to thin sheet and folded to from layered bread, cooked on a skillet with pure ghee.

The Mango Curry, another main dish, was again convincing. The fresh ripe mango cooked along with yogurt, ground coconut, green chilies and seasoned with mustard seeds and curry leaves only at first seemed to lack taste, but the spices began to unfold later. Another recommendable main course was the Pineapple Pachadi, made of yogurt and pineapple, another recipe from Kerala.

Among the many desserts, I tried the Jackfruit Pudding, a creation by executive chef Aylur V. Sriram. It is a mixture of ripe jackfruit, jaggery, milk and egg, baked on a layer of crispy bread, served with jackfruit and mango sauce. In addition to desserts known all over India such as Rasmalai and Gulab Jamun, The Quilon offers Bibinca and Dodhol, a Goan specialty. Bibinca is a rice flower egg wash nutmeg powder, Dodhol a rice flower and palm jaggery. The chef's creation as well as the desserts from Goa were all not very sweet.

Overall, The Quilon made an excellent impression. Not only Aylur V. Sriram, but the entire staff made it
a memorable experience. It is one of the best Indian restaurants in Europe and reasonably prized, even a bargain. I can only highly recommend it to Londoners and tourists alike.
 
Biography of Aylur V. Sriram

Aylur V. Sriram has been the executive chef at The Quilon since its opening in 1999. He was born and raised in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1963. His parents come from the city of Palghat, in Kerala. He studied law but chose to follow his father into the hotel business. He began training as a chef under his father at Hotel Sriram. After two years, he joined the Indian Hotels Company Ltd, now Taj International, for which he worked in every area of the kitchen before he became a chef in Taj's five-star hotels. In 1986, the company realized that ethnic Indian food was in danger and sent Aylur V. Sriram together with a handful of other chefs to Kerala in order to study the authentic cooking of the region, where they learned from housewives.
 
In 1988, Aylur V. Sriram launche
d the hotel group's Karavalli Restaurant in Bangalore; "Karavalli" simply means "coast". The ethnic South Indian west coast restaurant earned him and his restaurant numerous accolades, including "One of the five best Restaurants in India" by The Statesman, "One of the top five chefs in India" by The Daily Telegraph and "Best Indian Restaurant in South India" by the Hotel and Food Service Monthly Magazine.

In 1999, with the opening of The Quilon, Aylur V. Sriram came to London as executive chef, where he successfully runs the kitchen of seven staff. - In 1998, Aylur V. Sriram married Leena. Their son Sidu was born the following year.


The restaurant interior. Photo © The Quilon.
 




The entrance of The Quilon. Photos © The Quilon.
 

The executive chef, Aylur V. Sriram. Photos © The Quilon.



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