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Rehab City, Cairo, Egypt.
Maharaja: Hidden Indian Gem in Rehab City
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.
From Moroccan cuisine specialist, La Palmeraie, and iconic Oriental grill, El Kebabgy, to Le Deck’s Two Michelin star chef-crafted menu, any new restaurant opening at Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah has a lot to live up to. With new Indian restaurant, Manipuri, however, let’s just say that it might be even better than its neighbours.
As soon as we stepped inside Manipuri, we found ourselves in a huge, symmetrical, low-ceiling waiting area with LED lights on the floor leading us to a spacious lobby-like interior of the restaurant. From the table topped with an Indian statue surrounded by jars of legumes, to the humongous sweeping staricase, we felt like we were about to attend Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding. Divided into two floors, the top floor is dedicated to the bar – which opens at 9PM - while the dining area is on the ground floor, with seats placed exclusively next to the curtained wall which overlooks a great view of the Nile.
While checking out the menu, we were welcomed with a very light and refreshing Mango Yogurt drink infused with a hint of pomegranate syrup, as well as a bowl of nacho-shaped Papadums with sides of exquisite apple chutney and pickled lemon. The complimentary items left us even more excited for what was to come.
With a huge variety on the menu, we felt a bit overwhelmed and lost, before eventually opting for Murg Kadhai (120LE) and Jhagi Lamb Chops (160LE) as our mains.
Boasting boneless chicken swimming in tomato gravy infused with sautéed onions and red, yellow and green bell pepper, the Murg Kadhai was a flawless dish. The chicken was very tender, the tomato gravy was seasoned to perfection and had a fantastic thick consistency which coated the chicken perfectly, while the spiciness of the dish was balanced by the sweetness of the bell peppers and onions.
The Jhagi lamb chops, meanwhile, had a delicious marinade which consists of ginger and coriander, and was served with splashes of three different sauces: coriander, mango ginger and a sauce that was very similar to sweet tamarind chutney. Despite that the lamb being a bit tough, it was bursting with flavours which were further complimented by the coriander sauce, while the mango ginger and the tamarind chutney-like sauce added sweetness to the dish.
We also ordered a side Garlic Naan (15LE) and of Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani (120LE) to share, because, well, what’s an Indian dinner without biryani and naan bread?
The light and fluffy basmati rice was infused with saffron and other aromatic spices and mixed with big chunks of tender boneless chicken, nuts, fine julienne cuts of ginger and a side of spicy tomato gravy and yogurt sauce. We expected the Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani to be a side for our mains, but it could easily be a main on its own, but we enjoyed the extra flavours from perfect match of the spicy tomato gravy and the yogurt sauce.
Meanwhile, the garlic naan came in four pieces of buttery slices with a delicate garlic flavour, perfectly crispy edges and that chewy texture you look for in naan bread.
We finished our meal with Hot Gulab Jamun (50LE) for dessert. This classic south Asian dessert is served in an ice cream glass cup filled with saffron syrup, two sweet milk dumplings, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and walnuts. Overall, the sweetness of the dessert was spot-on; the dumplings had that cake-like texture, the walnuts added an occasional crunch and the saffron syrup gave the dessert a terrific aroma.
This was one of the few times were we upset that the meal had ended. Manipuri certainly impressed with its to-die-for flavours, unique and quiet ambiance, crowd-pleasing dishes and excellent value for money. Considering we paid a total of 590LE for all of the above, not only is this one of the best Indian restaurants in Cairo, but it’s also one of the cheapest at a top hotel.