Dosa Kerala

The Best Indian Restaurant in Lisbon, 2024

This article is written purely out of my appreciation for the fantastic food and friendly service at this restaurant; it is not a sponsored post, and I am not receiving any compensation for featuring this establishment.

🤩 Star Rating:★★★★★
🇵🇹 R. Passos Manuel 14, 1150-260 Lisboa, Portugal
🥘 3 Course Meal for 2 including drinks: Approx €45.
💳 Credit Cards accepted.
⏱️ Open Sun, Tue-Sat 12PM-3PM & 7PM-10:30PM; Mon Closed.
🌐 Kerala Facebook Page
☎️ +351 968 463 303

In this guide I’m not going to give you a run down of the top 3 or 5 or 10 best Indian restaurants in Lisbon. For this topic I personally think that’s useless, because for me the hands down best Indian restaurant in Lisbon right now is Kerala. Let me explain why…

Lisbon’s has its share of good eats from all around the world, and the Indian food scene here is…decent. I’m from Bradford, which some might say is the curry capital of England, so my standards are pretty high. When I first moved to Portugal and settled in Ericeira, the curry scene was a bit of a letdown – every curry tasted the same and it was all drowned in too much gloopy generic sauce.

Two and a half years ago, I moved to the Portuguese capital and was on the lookout for a good place that could live up to the traditional curries I’d left behind in Bradford. I tried a lot of different spots (more than 10), but nothing really hit the mark until I found Kerala on the Bolt Food app(IOS). 

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Intrigued by the 40% discount that was waving at me, I thought “Why not?”, and to my surprise (I’ve had a lot of disappointments using the Bolt Food app), the food was TOO GOOD!  Since then, I’ve reordered and returned to the restaurant more than 25 times, and whether I order in or go to their great place, the food is consistently amazing. 

Welcome to Kerala

Brief Introduction to Kerala Restaurant

You’ll find Kerala Restaurant in the heart of Lisbon tucked away just a two-minute stroll from Anjos Metro station, sitting at R. Passos Manuel 14. It’s easy to spot with its bright lights welcoming you in from the street.

Ambiance and Decor at Kerala Restaurant

The beautifully decorated interior of Kerala Restaurant
The beautifully decorated interior of Kerala Restaurant

Walking in for the first time, I was instantly hit by the amazing smells and the stunning gold  decor—it’s like stepping straight into an Indian carriage. The restaurant floor is roomy, with plenty of tables and lots of space to get comfortable. Every visit starts with a warm welcome, and they’ll quickly check if you’ve booked a table—something that’s pretty much a must if you’re planning to drop by on a busy Friday or Saturday night.

Once you’re seated, take a moment to really look around. The ceiling is something else, and the walls are covered in cool photos of important historical figures, each with a story to tell. But as much as there’s to see, remember, you’re here for the good food—and trust me, it’s the main event.

Tip: For those times when you’d rather stay in, keep an eye on the Bolt Food app. They sporadically throw in discounts at Kerala ranging from 10% to a whopping 40%. Definitely worth a look!

The Inspiration Behind Kerala’s Menu

The menu at Kerala takes its inspiration straight from the source—the vibrant state of Kerala in India, known as the “Land of Spices.” With a culinary style that has evolved over millennia, Kerala cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, offering a rich variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The food here is a celebration of spices—chillies, curry leaves, coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric, tamarind, and asafoetida, to name a few. 

Each dish is a nod to Kerala’s history as a global spice trade hub, dating back to ancient civilizations. And the menu at Kerala Restaurant brings this rich heritage right to your table, with regional specialties from across Kerala, some of which might even be a delightful surprise to those hailing from the state itself.

Signature Dishes and What Sets Them Apart

Lamb Madras, Garlic Naan & Rice.
Lamb Madras, Garlic Naan & Rice.

When it comes to personal favorites, there’s an abundance of mouth-watering dishes. But first, the Chicken 65 is a must-try. These lightly fried chunks of chicken breast are a flavor explosion, served with sweet and spicy dips on the side. It’s like a pakora, but with a unique twist.

Chicken 65 - TOO GOOD!
Chicken 65 – TOO GOOD!

If you’re feeling hungry, or looking to share the dining experience, I’d also recommend the Chicken Tandoori, these are two incredibly marinated chicken legs in spiced curd and roasted in the tandoori oven.

Tandoori Chicken at the best Indian restaurant in Lisbon
Tandoori Chicken

The Lamb Madras is another standout dish, a rich blend of spices that creates a depth of flavor you won’t forget. The meat is tender, melting in your mouth, and when paired with pilau rice, garlic naan, and a bit of mixed raitha to cool things down, it’s the perfect flavor combination.  

Pilau Rice - The best rice in my life!
Pilau Rice – The best rice in my life!

If spicy food is right up your alley, then the Chicken Ambotik is a must-try. A traditional recipe and a really unique and flavorful dish that strikes the perfect balance between tanginess and spiciness- although for some it can be too spicy – be warned!

Drawing from the rich culinary traditions of Goa, “Ambot” translates to tangy and “Tik” to spicy. The chicken (lamb, beef, or prawn is also available) is tender, juicy and cooked to perfection, absorbing all the bold and vibrant flavors, resulting in an experience that is truly unlike any curry I have tasted before.

The super spicy but delicious Lamb Ambotik
The super spicy but delicious Lamb Ambotik

And while I haven’t personally ordered the Masala Dosa with fresh chutney and sambar, it comes highly recommended by my girlfriend, and I can vouch for its deliciousness from the bites I’ve stolen off her plate.

My girlfriend also absolutely loves their Peshawari Naan (aka Kashmiri Naan). She said she’s never tasted anything like it before. It’s filled to the brim with a rich blend of coconut, sultanas, almonds, and an array of spices and herbs that just burst with flavor.

Masala Dosa at Kerala Restaurant in Lisbon
Masala Dosa at Kerala Restaurant in Lisbon

If vegetarian food is your thing then the stand out dishes for me are Putu and Kalada Curry. Putu is a dish consisting of crumbled rice flour and fresh, grated coconut, traditionally steamed together in a bamboo stalk to create a delightful texture and flavor. The Kadala curry, a separate dish, is black chickpeas simmered in a velvety gravy made from roasted coconut and a blend of aromatic spices. They both go really well together. 

Putu & Kadala Curry at Kerela Restaurant in Lisbon
Putu & Kadala Curry at Kerala Restaurant in Lisbon

I usually skip dessert, but I can’t help but highlight the Mango Lassi —it’s exceptionally refreshing, made with real mango pulp. And I must mention their signature Rose Petal Ice Cream. It’s an unexpected delight, like a creamy, slightly tangy bath bomb of flavor that wakes up your taste buds.

The signature Rose Petal Ice Cream at Kerala Restaurant in Lisbon
The signature Rose Petal Ice Cream at Kerala Restaurant in Lisbon

Note: There’s still many dishes on the menu I haven’t had the chance to try, and I’m certain there are some hidden gems waiting to be discovered. If you’ve tried something outstanding that I haven’t mentioned, please drop a recommendation in the comments below!

Catering to All: Great Value Options for Every Palate

While I’ve mentioned my personal favorites, the Kerala menu is very diverse with a wide array of options to suit every palate. From prawn and fish dishes to an extensive selection of vegetarian delights, the flavors are rich, dynamic, and utterly irresistible. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every dish I’ve tasted here has been nothing short of amazing. 

The prices in Kerala offer great value for your money. You can enjoy a variety of starters for just €5 to €7, and the main course won’t set you back more than €10 to €12. Plus, the portion sizes are perfect for the price.

Savoring the Experience: Service and Atmosphere

The hospitality at Kerala goes hand-in-hand with the quality of their dishes. Each visit starts off with a warm and friendly reception, setting an inviting tone right away. The staff is incredibly attentive when it comes to helping you navigate the menu, always ready to recommend dishes that align perfectly with your taste preferences and palate. My girlfriend and I have had numerous engaging conversations with the owner and his wife, both of whom exude passion for Kerala cuisine and are more than willing to share their extensive knowledge on the subject.

best service kerala youtube
Great customer service at Kerala, Lisbon

Great Onam Sadhya

Annually, Kerala transforms into a hub of cultural celebration with its traditional Onam Sadhya feast, where the banana leaf takes center stage. Onam Sadhya, a vegetarian extravaganza, features an astounding array of 26 to 28 dishes, each more tantalizing than the last, meticulously served on a banana leaf.

The Onam Sadyha feast at Kerala, Lisbon
The Onam Sadyha feast at Kerala, Lisbon

Embracing the full authenticity of the feast, people dive into this culinary experience with their hands, enhancing the sensory experience. This feast is a defining aspect of the Onam festival, reflecting Kerala’s deep-rooted traditions and heritage. The restaurant wholeheartedly adopts this celebration, providing a great experience that delights the palate and resonates with the spirit.

Keep an eye out on their facebook page for the next event. 

Cool fact: When warm food is placed on banana leaves, it unlocks the leaves’ antioxidant properties, adding an extra layer of nutrition to your meal!

Great Onam Sadhya at Kerala
Great Onam Sadhya at Kerala, Lisbon

The Voices of Happy Diners

Online there’s a wealth of positive feedback from happy customers, and the restaurant has earned stellar reviews highlighting its outstanding quality, rated 4.7 with over 800 reviews at the time of writing. 

It’s more than just the delicious food; it’s the entire dining experience, the inviting atmosphere, and the good service that set Kerala apart. This restaurant has built a strong community of food enthusiasts who share a common belief: Kerala stands unrivaled as the best Indian restaurant in Lisbon.

Zoom in to read the reviews or read more reviews here.

Tips for Future Diners

  • Given Kerala’s recent surge in popularity, I’ve noticed it can get busy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. So, to avoid disappointment, I’d suggest making a reservation for those evenings.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the staff or even the owners for dish recommendations—they’re always more than happy to help guide you based on your taste preferences.
  • A heads-up for the spice enthusiasts: the Ambotik is a must-try, but be prepared for a fiery kick!
  • And if you can’t finish everything, no worries—they’re cool about packing up your leftovers for you to take home.
  • For those zipping around on e-scooters, there’s a convenient lock-up area near the restaurant, making it super easy to stop by.
  • Meat lovers, take note: the Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Madras are out of this world. Packed with flavor, they’re definitely worth a try.
  • Take a moment to observe the walls, adorned with displays showcasing the rich history of Kerala.
  • And if you’re more of a stay-at-home diner, keep an eye on the Bolt Food app for some pretty sweet discount deals from time to time.

Check Out My Bolt Food App Receipt – Savings Inside! 🤯

Kerala BoltFood Discount 3

Interview with the Owner of Kerala, Head Chef Vijeesh Rajan

As we wrap up our gastronomic journey through Kerala Restaurant, we save the best for last – a heartfelt conversation with the leader behind it all, Chef Vijeesh Rajan. After savoring the exquisite flavors and experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of this South Indian haven in Lisbon, we delve deeper to uncover the stories, the passion, and the dedication that make Kerala Restaurant a standout gem in the city’s dining scene.

In this exclusive interview, Chef Vijeesh opens up about his journey, the challenges he’s faced, and the love for South Indian cuisine that fuels his daily endeavors. From childhood memories to the meticulous crafting of his menu, he shares experiences that have shaped Kerala Restaurant into what it is today.

Vijeesh Rajan, Owner and Head Chef of Kerala Restaurant.
Vijeesh Rajan, Owner and Head Chef of Kerala Restaurant

Q. Can you share the story behind your restaurant’s concept and menu?

A. I worked at many hotels & restaurants in Lisbon but never found any south Indian cuisine and I really missed my home food in Lisbon. So I dreamed about a South Indian restaurant in Lisbon. But unfortunately I don’t have that much money to start a restaurant. Slowly me and my wife started saving money for my dream. After a few years we had some money and applied for a loan from the bank then started “Kerala Restaurant”. 

Concept and Menu: 85% of our menu is from our home land “Kerala” ( i.e. from the Southern part of India). 

Q. Can you share a cherished food memory or a tradition that has influenced your journey in the culinary world and how it’s reflected in your restaurant today?

A. When I was child my father passed away because of that I faced financial crisis for my studies. So I started a part time job as a catering helper for big functions in my hometown. From there I started to learn about food, cooking etc and that became my passion then I chose it as my profession. I came from scratch and faced lots of difficulties. Those difficulties teached me lots of lessons in my career and life, now that helps me to run my restaurant more successfully. 

Q. How do you decide on the menu items, and how often do you introduce new dishes or flavors?

A. For me, menu creation was the biggest task, because in Kerala there are lots of varieties of food available. And I asked for the help of my family’s , teacher’s , and friend’s reference for creating this menu. Yearly we introduce new flavors for my customers. 

Q. What has been your biggest challenge in running this restaurant, and how have you overcome it?

A. Biggest challenge is finding a good South Indian Chef and getting the right South Indian ingredients here in Portugal. Most people come to Portugal for paperwork and then they leave to another country, so it’s hard to have permanent staff. Because of this, I am cooking all the food in the restaurant myself. But don’t worry, everything is managed properly and the food quality is perfect because of this. And for the key ingredients, we import some ingredients all the way from Kerala, but we have to pay high customs duty for that.

Q. Can you highlight a signature dish and what makes it special?

A. Our signature item is the Onam Sadhya (Banana Leaf Feast) meal that we serve once in a year. Onam Sadya is more than just a meal; it’s a cultural treasure, a testament to the rich traditions of Kerala. A typical Sadhya can have two to three dozen dishes, which may sometimes go up to 64!

Signature dish that we serve in the restaurant regularly is “Pidiyum Kozhiyum”. Pidiyum Kozhiyum is one of the oldest traditional dishes in kerala. Pidi is actually small steamed balls that’s made with rice flour, with some other spices Kozhi means “chicken curry”. 

Stay updated with Chef Vijeesh Rajan’s culinary adventures by connecting with him on Instagram! Click this link to visit his profile ChefVijeeshRajan

Wrapping Up

That wraps up our deep dive into Kerala Restaurant and the culinary world of Head Chef Vijeesh Rajan. We’ve shared our experience, and now we’re curious to hear yours.

Have you visited Kerala or any other spots in Lisbon serving up South Indian delights? Got a favorite dish or a pro tip for fellow food enthusiasts? Hit up the comments below and let us know.

This is your space to share, discuss, and maybe even help someone discover their next favorite meal in Lisbon. Your input is valued here, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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  • I’m so excited to try this restaurant. My mouth is watering. I would love to go to this event to eat from the banana leaf.

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