Indian cuisine dates back over 5,000 years. Each region has its own traditions, religions, and culture that influence its food. However, the common thread that connects the differing cultures remains the same: the aromatic mix of spices that has awed the culinary world for centuries. Maharaja is a concept that was introduced back in 2000 in Damascus, Syria. The North Indian franchise made its way to Egypt a few years ago with great success, boasting more than fifteen restaurants across Cairo and other governorates.
The Maharaja chain of restaurants used to have a specific number assigned for each branch, but now the name is just “Maharaja”. For example, the one in Sheikh Zayed used to be Maharaja 7; however, as we visited the Americana Plaza venue, the staff told us about the name change.
We got a colourful booth beside the window in the impressively spacious location and began browsing their extensive menu. We started our meal with two starters to share: Tandoori Alo (75 LE) – One whole potato scooped and stuffed with cottage cheese, dried fruit, and spices cooked in clay oven, and Chicken Dips (35 LE) – four pieces of chicken wings sautéed with Indian masala sauce. Both dishes were deliciously flavourful; the Tandoori Alo had a crunchy sesame crust that complimented the creaminess of the potatoes and cheese, and the chicken wings, even though relatively tiny, had great flavour from the sauce.
Who would go for Indian and not order Biryani? Hence, we opted for one Lamb Biryani (92 LE) – Spiced lamb with steamed basmati rice sprinkled with saffron and spices. This dish was pure perfection; the rice was brilliantly spiced, and the lamb was melt in your mouth tender – simply flawless. Another unique Indian speciality is paneer: a traditional Indian soft cheese that is non-aged and non-melting, made by curdling milk. That said, we decided to order one Paneer Nawabi (70 LE) – Cheese cooked in butter and creamy tomato sauce. Along with this, we got a serving of Garlic Nan (26 LE) as a side dish to mop up all the delectable, rich sauce. The paneer dish was everything you’d expect: it was creamy, tasty, and unarguably delicious.
Lastly, we wanted to end our meal on a sweet note, so we got the Kajarka Halwa (35 LE) to share – Indian style carrot pudding with nuts. Unfortunately, this dessert wasn’t as successful as the rest of the meal; it was more of a shredded carrot dish than a pudding. The plate needed more creamy goodness and flavour for sure, but a complementary coconut ice cream was also offered to us, so we were not complaining. The ice cream was spot on; it was the perfect balance of sweetness to richness. All in all, we were happy; Maharaja is an excellent value for money restaurant on all levels, from the cleanliness and food quality to the friendly staff and casual ambience.