Shivalli (Leicester)

Shivalli in Leicester is one of the UK's better vegetarian South Indian restaurants.

In a previous life it was known as Halli, but that particular restaurant changed hands a few years ago and started serving meat. Luckily Shivalli has since opened a short walk away and seems to have pretty much the same menu / members of staff.

On Sundays they've a sensibly priced all you can eat buffet, however when we took advantage of it last year I wasn't overly impressed by the quality of things on offer. Unlimited poori yes, but too much gloop and not enough ingredients (as is often the case with all you can eat).

As I'd once had the best dosa of my life at Halli, we ate from the menu when we returned to Shivalli a couple of weeks ago.

I'm always a little wary when menus on websites don't include prices, however in Shivalli's case everything is cheaper than you expect it to be. Two people can get pretty full for under £20. I'd definitely recommend avoiding the buffet in future and paying a little extra for better ingredients.

They don't mark what's vegan and what's not on their menu, which is a tad annoying. The staff are clueful though and pretty much anything that sounds vegan either is or can be made so.

Demonstrating my lack of knowledge about Indian food; for starter I ordered a Bhel Poori. I absolutely love standard poori, so I couldn't possibly go wrong, right?

Sadly Bhel Poori appears to be a little different. After I'd gotten over my initial disappointment I was pleased to find that all was not lost. Though it looks a lot like a big boring dish of bombay mix, it's soft, sticky and flavourful. I'd certainly order it again, but with some real poori on the side!

We also got a Kajoo Padoka (cashew nuts in batter), which comes in a very generous portion:

I probably wouldn't get this dish again - it's OK, but I'd rather just eat a bowl of salted cashews. They're a little dry and definitely need to be eaten with the condiments.

The Onion Masala Rava Dosa I ordered for mains was up to previous standards; far nicer than those I've had at places like Sagar:

We ordered a "Mix" Uttappam too, then swapped our plates half way through (classy I know):

On its own I found this dish really bland. It's like a giant omelette with no taste. If you carefully ration the condiments however it really comes to life and tastes fantastic.

I like Shivalli and will certainly return. I prefer it to the other veg Indian restaurant in the centre (Mirch Masala) and now I know you can find free parking nearby on Sundays, there's no excuse not to.


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