Indian restaurants in Cairo are slowly becoming more and more frequent, as Egypt's dining scene continues to evolve. With that, comes a more sophisticated collective palate that demands the highest quality dining experience. Everyone has their favourites and it can be impossible to work out where your hard-earned money is best put to delicious use. As has become instinctive at Cairo 360, we've waded through the riff-raff to bring you Indian restaurants in Cairo that deserve your attention.
Though it looks more Middle Eastern than it does Indian, Asia House has proven to be one of the Shepheard Hotel's most popular restaurant. Though a three course meal will burn a sizeable whole in your pocket, you're in good hands; the chefs at Asia House know what they're doing. But more than just exerting their energies into bubbling up great sauces, they know how to treat meat well – a downfall of many an Indian restaurant in Cairo.
With an immaculate and sleek interior, plus views of the Nile from its Giza Corniche location, Asha's falls somewhere between hotel and high street. As part of a chain named after singer/culinary mastermind, Asha Bhosle, each and every dish comes from the songstress herself. Though it too suffers from inconsistency, when it's right, it's right. Pricier than most of the restaurants on this list, Asha's share quarters with Chinese restaurant, Chop Chop, so you could always gall back onto that.
Run by the culinary brains behind Zamalek favourite, Nawab, Begum is still trying to reach the same heights as its sister-restaurant. Offering an almost identical menu, this Maadi restaurant lacks atmosphere, but more than makes up for it with delicious basics – naan being particularly addictive. For all its shortcomings, however, it does offer Maadi residents a dependable and affordable Indian dining option.
The Ramses Hilton is often belittled in the face of competition in Garden City and Zamalek, but in Maharaja, the Downtown hotel has a gem of a restaurant. There's little about the space to distinguish it from a generic hotel restaurant, but a visible tandoor oven adds a precious little touch; there's nothing quite like seeing your food made as you wait in anticipation. The best thing about Maharaja, though, is that it caters to all palates; vegetarians will be spoilt for choice, while more tempered tongues will feel at ease. 'Authentic' isn't exactly a word you'd use here, but that doesn't mean it should be written off.
As one of the first Indian restaurants to strike a note with Heliopolis residents, Massala offers the whole package. Tucked away in the Karvin Hotel, Massala takes you out of the hustle and bustle of Cairo and transports you to an evening of dining that is as authentically Indian as you'll find in the city. Prices are lower than what you'd find at the bigger hotels, but that it no way reflects on the quality of food.
As the pride and joy of the famous Mena House hotel, the Moghul Room is quite something. Though the hotel is no longer part of the Oberoi group, standards have not slipped. Not even a little bit. Granted, a full meal may inflict a considerable dent in your wallet, but the Moghul Room delivers on every level. From the quality of food to the service, this is one Indian restaurant in Cairo that is befitting of the grandeur of its location – just a few camel steps away from the Great Pyramids of Giza.
So dear to so many hearts, Nawab is the epitomy of what an Indian restaurant should be – no frills, no flash, just good food. Though some may scoff at its increasingly untended appearance, once you've picked, ripped and dipped a piece of freshly made naan into anyone of their butter sauce dishes, you'll fall into a trance. Nawab has notoriously gone through some erratic patches in terms of quality, but its pros outweigh its cons, no question.
Maadi's Nile Bukhara usually hits the peak of its popularity during Ramadan, offering vegetarian fetar options. During the rest of the year, the restaurant weeds out the men from the boys. When Nile Bukhara says 'spicy', boy does it mean it; spicy is really spicy and mild is really mild – there is no in between. But across the menu, this is one Indian restaurant that is consistent. It's by no means spectacular, reasonable prices makes it an easy visit.
As part of the Fairmont Heliopolis and Towers' eclectic array of dining options, Raj has almost zero atmosphere, as the seating area is located in the huge indoor boulevard where all the restaurants are lined up. Despite this, you can't really fault what comes out of the kitchen in terms of execution and flavours. If you're looking for a feast, however, you may well be disappointed; in true fine dining style, portions are petite and prices are high – one main will set you back at least 100LE, without factoring in rice.
Suffering from the dearth of tourism, Taj Al Sultan's uniqueness has proved to be its downfall in recent times. Located in the formerly teeming Khan El Khalili and Al Azhar Square area, the three-storey restaurant actually offers both Egyptian and Indian options, though the latter is rarely favoured by locals and subsequently suffers. As a space, Taj Al Sultan delivers what it promises in terms of atmosphere and décor, living up to the grandeur that its name and location suggests.
Happy eating, Cairo!