Das Sreedharan runs Rasa, a vegetarian Indian restaurant in Stoke Newington (North London). We've eaten fairly regularly there since it opened (and before that, we ate in the restaurant he used to manage). The restaurant is the best Indian vegetarian restaurant in London by some way (its main competitors are the others in the chain, but they have fancy locations and prices to match).
We went to Kerala on holiday, largely on the strength of the food in this restaurant and Das's enthusiasm for his home. We had some great food there, too, but I think I prefer Rasa.
So I was delighted to discover I could try the recipes at home, but also apprehensive. It's often difficult to cope with restaurant cooking; much of it doesn't scale down properly, and although I do have the requisite army of sous-chefs, my four-year old isn't very good at the niceties of restaurant presentation. So I wasn't expecting to manage to recreate any of my favourites.
How wrong I was. Turns out they're easy. And delicious. Not quite as good, perhaps, as the meal you'd be served in the restaurant, but if you'd never eaten at Rasa then cooking from this book would be inspirational. The food is pretty healthy, and the curries at least are low in fat (though some of them, admittedly, have rather a lot of desiccated coconut in).
I haven't tried any of the meat dishes yet (Das is vegetarian, as is his entire village, and I am suspicious), but have cooked several of my favourite vegetarian dishes from the restaurant (moru katchiathu, beet pachadi, avial) successfully.
It helps if you have an Asian grocer handy, to get curry leaves (in nearly every dish) and urad dal. Everything else I've needed, so far, has been available in any supermarket.
Recommended to anyone who likes Southern Indian food and would like to try it at home, and anyone else who's eaten enough chicken tikka masalas and would like to try something more unusual.