Raj: High-End Indian Cuisine in Heliopolis
Inside Fairmont Heliopolis
6PM - midnight (Closed on Tuesdays) -
Heliopolis isn’t short on international
cuisine options, but a quality Indian restaurant has eluded the area up until
now. Newly opened Indian restaurant Raj
sits in the lobby of the Fairmont Towers, in the company of other esteemed
dining venues such as Leonardo, Lan Tania, Aqua e Luce and Fuze Bar among others. Seating is divided into a small indoor and a raised terrace
area and outside seating in the lobby itself among the jungle of plants.
Small complimentary glasses of mango lassi
were sent to our table almost immediately, and were quickly followed by a
serving of papadums and three dips including a particularly good mango chutney. The lassi was a little flat in taste, but the yogurt and mango mixture
makes for a good pallet cleanser between courses. The papadums were a little
off base too. They were much more brittle than they should be, and lacked the
subtle flavour that comes with good seasoning.
We were hankering for something a little
weightier to start our meal with, and so we went for the samsosas (60LE). The
potato-stuffed pastry was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but
desperately lacked seasoning of its own, on account of the tamarind sauce that
comes with it. The sauce was far too sweet for this reviewer’s liking, and we
instead used the mango chutney to good effect. We noticed that there wasn’t one
drip of oil, and so we suspect that they were baked rather than deep-fried.
Moving swiftly onto the main course, we
tried the laal maas (125LE) and the chicken tikka masala (110LE). Popular in
the Rajasthan area of India, Raj serves laal maas as a lamb curry. The cubes of
lamb were incredibly tender and full of taste, although the same can’t be said
for the sauce accompanying it. The combination of dry chillies, turmeric,
garlic and coriander culminated in nothing more than a dull spiciness.
The chicken tikka masala is a staple dish
of Indian cuisine, and so we expected big things. We weren’t disappointed. The
chunks of chicken were generous and cooked perfectly, while the tikka sauce
itself was rich and thick. The flavours of the tomato, coriander and coconut
cream jumped out at every mouthful, and we continued to stab at it with some
garlic naan bread (20LE) long after the chicken was finished. We were relieved that we had ordered the naan
bread, because the bowl of rice that we received to share was paltry and didn’t
last for long.
There are four desserts to choose from, and
we went for the mango shrikhand (45LE). The dessert is made of strained yoghurt
mixed with mango pulp. The result is a pudding that is both thick and smooth,
but also light and fresh. The only downer was the hard pomegranate seeds
sprinkled across the dessert. They were hard, and at times crunchy, and they
ruined the texture of the shrikhand.
It’s hard to be critical of the food at
Raj, because overall it was prepared brilliantly, and the central ingredients
of all the dishes were highly-flavoured. We appreciate the etiquette of modest
portions, but for a food that so many love to overindulge in, we wanted more.
Especially for the prices we paid.