Looking for somewhere to eat on Sunday night, my Mother suggested we try Maharajah, the brand new Indian restaurant in Panmure which opened two weeks ago. We were pleasantly surprised by the interior as Panmure has amazing food but is not known for its amazing decor.
The inside was warm, low-lit and inviting and multicoloured saris hung immaculately and perfectly from around the central light fitting. It had a nice local neighbourhood feel to it, complete with faux flames and waiters dressed in full Indian garb!
But on to the food. We weren’t that hungry so we only ordered two entrees to share (just to try them out really). The Mixed Vegetable Pakoras ($5.90) were fantastic, light and super-tasty savoury vegetable and chickpea flour fritters. I have always been disappointed with pakoras in restaurants because they don’t taste like my Mum’s but these were pretty close, not like the little rock-hard frisbees I’ve tasted elsewhere. The Paneer Tikka ($9.90) was also great. The paneer (indian cheese) was made on site and had great texture – somewhere between tofu and haloumi and the Tikka spices – with a good dose of lemon – provided a tangy, spicy (but not hot) flavour.
We ordered four curries for mains. A Malai Kofta (12.90), a Prawn Tikka ($17.90), A Lamb Madras ($14.90) and the Suicide Curry ($20). Yes you heard right. My husband and father are always on the lookout for spicy food and couldn’t resist the idea of a curry with a warning (my Dad grew up in India – surely it couldn’t be spicier than he could take?) Turns out it could and he said it was the hottest thing he had ever tasted.
Unfortunately at that level of spice a lot of flavour is lost. They could taste it initially but after the spice kicked in it was hard to discern. My husband described it as ‘vision impairing’ and after he got the shakes, decided it was time to give up before it did him some serious bodily harm.
The others curries were divine. We had a dairy-free member amongst us and made the ridiculous request of something mild-flavoured with no cream or ghee (these things usually come hand in hand) With some clever alterations to their Lamb Madras we were presented with something which not only pleased the recipient but everyone else at the table.
All the gravies were thick, chunky and full of onion, garlic and spices. I know you would expect that from Indian food, but lots of restaurants take short cuts and the meat comes out overcooked and with too smooth sauces. This was real home cooked flavour.
Malai Kofta are little patties of lightly spiced paneer and potato cooked in a creamy sauce. It had a great, rich slightly almondy flavour and the mixture of firm cheese and potato gave the koftas a fabulous firm-but-not-rubbery texture. It was totally addictive.
The version we had of the Lamb Madras was wonderful with tender, tender lamb and a great thick tomatoey lightly-spiced gravy. The coconut cream was a great addition to make it tasty for the dairy-free diner who couldn’t eat terribly spicy food. The Prawn Tikka was outstanding with the yoghurt/lemon/spice base in a thick gravy with large pieces of capsicum and onion in it. It was perfectly spiced with enough of a kick to make it interesting but not so much as to make you feel uncomfortable.
All up a great experience and a restaurant that is going to do well I have no doubt. The service was friendly, helpful and informative and they were incredibly accommodating and warm. Only order the Suicide Curry if you are looking to find your spice tolerance ceiling. We’re pretty sure this will do it!