As I promise on my homepage, here comes the first restaurant review of mine.
I love eating out and being served real good food.. it is a very pleasing experience to me…
So you can be assured I am not getting paid for such review, however when I see the good in a restaurant I become an advocate right away 🙂
I must admit I was very intimidated to even try Indian food… other than Puri bread, I had never even seen Indian food before except on TV.. and honestly, Indian food as such is not very aesthetically pleasing to see..
One of my aunties is Australian and due to the geographical proximity to India, they have plenty of restaurants there and several hands-on experiences. I remember her highly recommending me to try it and stating that she is very very fond of the Indian cuisine.
So one day, I just went for it, and I kept going back since…
I am normally a person who appreciates chicken, and butter chicken is a well-known crowd pleaser.
Maharaja’s Butter chicken is in fact very good.. I had it several times and it never failed to impress each time.
Another one of their very well executed dishes is the Chicken Tikka Masala. The combination of the charred flavor the chicken takes over from the grilling process and the beautifully crafted tomato based sauce are just the right boost for one’s taste buds. It is hands down my favorite dish.
During this visit though, I was more interested in the vegetarian dishes Maharaja had to offer and that’s how the below three-course meal came together:
- Starter: Vegetable Samosas
- Main Course: Achari Aloo with Kashmiri Pullao
- Dessert: Coconut Kulfi
Starter: Vegetable Samosas:
I normally order – obviously- the chicken samosas 🙂 These come in a nice bundle form that makes them bite sized and delicious. And despite the different appearance, the vegetable samosas were quite as impressive.
The inside had peas, potatoes and carrots and the crust was just a divinely flaky fried dough.
If you’ve ever been to Maharaja, you probably know already you get served a trio of Minted or Corriander-based Raita (yoghurt sauce), some delicious Mango-chutney, and some pickled hot peppers. Recently, they’ve been also serving a tangy yet sweet tamarind sauce.
After sampling all sauces, I found the Tamarind Sauce is what works best with the hearty vegetable samosa. So as you can see on the picture, I drenched it with the sauce 🙂
Main Dish: Achari Aloo with Kashmiri Pullao :
Well it sounds complicated but it really isn’t, Achari Aloo with Kashmiri Pullao simply translates (or at least I believe so) to Potato in sauce and Kashmiri rice.
On the menu, Achari Aloo is described as “Diced potato gently cooked in mango pickle flavor sauce” and that’s exactly what you get to taste: potatoes cooked so perfectly they are tender yet firm and full of flavor. The sauce is tangy, thick and fragrant.
To go with it I chose the Kashmiri Pullao for a change: Saffron rice topped with Cashews and raisins.
I imagined it will be just some ordinary rice with nuts.. I mean in our oriental cuisine this is quite predictable, however the addition of the saffron, cardamom, clovers and bay leaves as well as the ratio that dictates the addition of so many sweet raisins makes it stand out. All in all, the rice has the salty and spicy flavors, the crunch of the cashews, and the sweetness and bite of the raisins. It’s basically everything I like on a plate and together with the potatoes the experience was only elevated.
If you are not going for all vegetarian options, I also highly recommend the chicken byriani.
Dessert: Coconut Kulfi:
This is the crown jewel in my opinion.. Don’t get me wrong, all the above sampled dishes (sampled? not really, more like devoured lol) are simply delicious.
But.. I have a soft spot for dessert and an extra soft spot for coconut; I cherish its flavor in almost everything from sweet to savory.
This Kulfi (which means Ice cream) comes in a coconut shell. I’ve been told it’s artificial and no coconut is so small, but who cares when it’s so beautiful? I am very fond of this presentation. But that’s not all: the coconut ice cream comes together with a special, optional topping made out of warm caramelized carrots with spices, nuts and raisins.
This combination sounds odd, but you need to try it to understand the depth of the flavors and how they complement each other so beautifully.
The coconut ice cream tastes purely like coconut and gives you the coolness and creamy texture. When topped with the carrots, you get a warm bite into the kulfi, with the crunch from the nuts, and the warmth of the cinnamon, nutmeg, clover and cardamom flavors.. all together with the sweetness of the carrots.
So many layers of flavor and texture that are just a fiesta in your mouth.
All in all, if you are not into the Indian cuisine, I encourage you to try it out: it’s very unique yet very similar to our own kind of cooking and therefore very very familiar.
If you are into this kind of food, then I also recommend Maharaja as a restaurant: Their service is swift and excellent and my favorite branch in Heliopolis (branch 8) has a really nice and cozy seating area and contemporary Indian music playing all along.