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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Begum: New Indian Restaurant in Maadi
First taking Zamalek by storm, Indian restaurant Nawab has spread its wings and made its way over to Maadi. Located on Road 276, down the street from Red Onion, Begum comes as a treat for Maadi residents who now don’t need to go far for an affordable and tasty Indian meal.
When it comes to atmosphere, Begum lacks it as opposed to its counterpart in Zamalek. Begum was considerably empty, to the extent that we began to wonder whether the restaurant was actually open or if it was still in the furbishing phase.
Begum has the same menu as Nawab; specialising in dishes from North India and the Mughlai area. At the beginning of the menu there is a small introduction explaining the selected name; it turns out that Nawab was a famous Indian ruler and Begum was his wife.
The menu is pretty extensive and it’s easy to get lost in. The shami kebab (34LE) starter consists of two ground lamb patties with mint and while they were full of flavour, the consistency was a bit crumbly and it was on the dry side – a lot of sauce was needed to make up for that.
In general, when choosing a main, you select a dish and then decide on what the meat will be; for example fish, chicken, lamb or vegetables if you don’t eat meat.
A masala dish (65LE) consists of a rich tomato based sauce and we chose to have it with chunks of lamb; the sauce was nice and it came in a generous portion, but we found it a bit too spicy. The lamb had some fat on it as well which didn’t make it more enjoyable. The curry dish (45LE), chosen with fish, consisted of diced white fish and a mix of curry with yoghurt. The fish meat was fried well and the sauce was tasty but it could have been a bit creamier.
The best part about Begum was their delicious naans. The garlic naan (9LE) was drenched in butter and garlic and gave an extra tangy pop when eaten with the curry. The butter naan (9LE) was delicious as well, but if you are inexperienced with the Indian kitchen it is best of to stick with the plain naan (7LE) because there is a lot of ghee used in the dishes; if your stomach is not up to that you might have a very unpleasant evening.
Though the food at Begum is good it doesn’t match up to its Zamalek counterpart - yet.
As the summer heat takes its toll on us these days, our palate yearned for cuisine that is exotic and refreshing. Thus, when hush-hush news reached us of an Indian restaurant hidden in Rehab City, the thought of tangy spices and lassi sent us quickly over to Maharaja to satisfy our yearnings.
Located right next to Dominos Pizza, we admit the location wasn’t the easiest to find; however, once seated and eating, we quickly discovered that the restaurant could easily hold us as happy hostages.
We started off with a refreshing mango lassi (15LE) that was an ideal combination of mango and yogurt with hints of coconut flakes as well as pistachio.
As we waited for the food, we took the chance to study Maharaja’s atmosphere; the restaurant itself is spacious, with mahogany tables and colourful portraits of Siva’s life on the walls. Music came from a large flat-screen TV that played catchy Bollywood songs and videos – we were also rather taken with the coral clay cups and plates on which we dined.
What’s quite interesting is that Maharaja’s meticulously attentive waiters, personnel and the restaurant owner himself, all seemed to be Syrian.
We dug into our piping hot vegetable samosa, which we ate with mint sauce and a generous selection of bread: tikka naan, garlic naan and paneer naan (10LE each). The naan, particularly the garlic, was hands down some of the best we had in Cairo as it had the perfect balance of chewiness and crunchiness, and was perfect for unabashedly dipping into the sauces of our main dishes.
Said main courses consisted of murgh makhani (35LE) – a truly heavenly dish consisting of chicken served in a sauce of tomato purée, buttered spices and yogurt – as well as a tasty kalimirchi tikka dish (35LE).
Feeling random, we also decided to give the dal maharaja (30LE) a go and did not regret it in the least; the yellow lentils, cooked with garlic and ginger, were warm and delectable. On the side, we ordered plain biryani rice (20LE) and kashmiri pulao (35LE), which were both fragrant and light.
To end our flavoursome meal, we were offered delightful complimentary coconut ice-cream, which was presented in a miniature coconut shell with shavings of nuts on the side.
Overall, our dining experience at Maharaja left us extremely satisfied with the food, the quick attentive service and the ambiance. Furthermore, we ended up paying a mere 250LE for food that could’ve easily fed a party of four rather than just two. Scrumptious, affordable and efficient, Maharaja’s definitely not to be missed.