The Maharaj : Where Spices Flow Freely
It has been a really long spell since I last wrote a review for Everyday Food I Love, and for good reason. Work and pandemic aside, I finally managed to secure the time, freedom and a good frame of mind to continue pursing the life worthy of a Bon Viveur. Today, I would like to share with you my first experience visiting the Maharaj, a very well-known Indian restaurant to the residents of Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya.
This place is not unknown to us at Everyday Food I Love. Angeline first came to this place back in November 2011. At the time, the restaurant was already in operation for 3 years at the same place they are at today in Jalan Gasing. They have been operating for much longer than that though, which means they have nearly two decades worth of experience in Indian Cuisine. That is impressive. Much more so when you consider how many F&B outlets who have since closed down because of the pandemic. But with things slowly clearing up, people are now cautiously but surely taking the opportunity to leave the confines of home and venture out for some good eating.
Now I say good eating, because that is what you are going to find here. The food served here is of the flavourful and tasty variety, the kind that makes you clamour for more, and perhaps later fall into a comfortable food coma for the rest of the day. I was amazed by the amount of things you could order here, not many places can beat them in terms of variety. And with the addition of Indian Cuisine unique to South Africa, it becomes even more wondrous to the palate. Later in this write-up I will explain why. On a side note, readers familiar to my rating system will know that a "thumbs-up" indicates my personal recommendation that the food is of the "must-try" variety.
59, Jalan Gasing,
46000 Petaling Jaya
The restaurant is a converted single-storey house with a spacious interior. The clean, well-polished and strong sturdy wooden furniture are evenly-spaced in order to observe good social distancing between diners. Beautiful murals adorn the walls but it wasn't lavish or pretentious. In contrast to the hot and humid conditions outside, the ambience inside the restaurant is cool and comfortable. The staff on the other hand are attentive and respectful to both your persons and the need to observe current SOPs in place for eateries.
The owner and managing director of the Maharaj is still the self-same Mr. Ilan Govan who first welcomed Angeline to the establishment many years ago. Joining him is Mr. Mervin Moodley, formerly from South Africa who has since fallen in love with Malaysia, and is now the in-house culinary expert on Indian cooking from the African continent.
|From R-L: Mr. Ilan Govan and Mr. Mervin Moodley.|
The dynamic duo hosted us to a generous Luncheon on a humid Sunday afternoon. You could judge quickly how generous it was based on whether or not I had to climb a chair, just to be able to get a decent photo of a top down view of the foods served (I did in fact, had to excuse myself to get on a sturdy chair to get that photo). They both spoke warmly of their experiences with regards to the foods that were served. Indeed, one could tell how much they loved the food and what they were doing by their genuine enthusiasm as they related their unique experiences sharing food with other people. I listened and took mental notes as I ate in reflection, savouring each morsel whilst at the same time making a comparison of textures and how the flavour of the spices blended with the carbs and ingredients.
|I learned one important fact worth remembering when planning your visit to this establishment. They do not serve Pork or Beef.|
Indian Cuisine is a very difficult and diverse thing to define. The subcontinent itself is so large, that food differs widely from region to region. When you couple this with the various preparation techniques and ingredients unique to reach region, as well as taking into account the diversity of people and religions influencing each dish, the gastronomy of it all is tantalisingly rich. It is literally the stuff of epicurean dreams. But when taken as a whole however, there are some generalisations one could make. One is the liberal spicing of dishes and the second, the choice of carbs that are supposed to accompany each dish. Invariably, this would mean either bread or a rice-based dish is needed to complement the meal. And because of their strong religious beliefs, a good deal of Indian cuisine is vegetarian. A common practise is to go completely vegetarian at least once a week or for certain periods of the year for religious observances.
Well, what can I say? You are what you eat. After grabbing a seat and snapping pictures, we started our culinary adventure.
|Mutton Samosa, South African style 👍|
I was thoroughly delighted with this entrée. The texture of the crispy skin contrasted well with the spiced minced-mutton and onion filling inside. Words alone cannot express how well-received this samosa was. I resorted to doing a cut-up and close-up just to illustrate my view.
This vegetarian fritter is sliced Okra @ Ladies' Fingers dipped in a light batter, and then deep fried. The concept of the dish is simple, and yet the flavour is nothing short of addictive. I note that the people gathered at the table had no trouble at all eating up this finger food, down to the last crumb. The normally soft and mushy okra was a delight to chew on with the crunchy batter.
It is nearly impossible to sit down to a meal in Asia and not have carbs, which means your food must come with either bread or rice! Each has it's own recommended food pairing based on the main dish you plan to get, and it would be hard to choose without the guidance of the serving staff. I had the luxury of having both flavoured Basmathi rice and Naan bread. What this means for you however, is perhaps it would be a good idea to dine here as a group rather than as an individual so that you may have more choices of main dishes in a shared meal.
|Prawn Tawa 👍|
You should be familiar with the concept of Tandoori Chicken yes? Well, meet the prawn version! I literally picked my portion of prawn apart, the exterior was crusted with spices and dry, but the flesh of the prawn inside and the head was sweet and juicy. I'm impressed enough to give it a thumbs up, if you have a limited budget and little time, this dish must be on your to-eat list. Eat to Live or Live to Eat?
|Bunny Chow 👍👍|
This was the highlight of the afternoon, a Bunny Chow. The vernacular itself is peculiar to South Africa. I have seen many imitations of this dish before here in Kuala Lumpur, but the many iterations that I have tried pale in comparison to this pièce de résistance. It is magnificent and a complete meal by itself. The Mutton Potato Curry is superb, and the bread inside thoroughly soaked in gravy that it would be a pity to not eat it up. For good measure, I also sucked out the bone marrow which is very obvious in the picture (I did say that this place is for good eating). At the time of this writing, I have plans to return to the Maharaj, and will ask for the bread and Mutton Potato Curry to be served separately, just so I can enjoy watching the bread being fused with the curry. I just have to resist shouting "MAHARAJ ME" as the gravy is being poured into the bread.
I am not really a big fan of crab, because of the amount of shelling that needs to be done. But as I ate my portion of Crab Rasam served in a bowl, I could not help but enjoy the flavour. The combination of the tangy rasam and the sweet crab flesh is something new to me, I quite liked it and proceeded to shell the rest of the crabs with much vigour. I have the feeling that this dish is best enjoyed slowly as a family however, and Mr. Govan did say that the majority of his Chinese patrons enjoyed this dish tremendously.
By now, I assume everyone reading this would have, at some point in their lives, eaten Tandoori Chicken. It is a common dish, widely available and popularly eaten with Naan Bread. The experience here is pretty much standard to wherever you can find this dish. To be fair, if I had eaten this dish by itself I would have liked it better, but I would choose the Prawn Tawa over this anyday, as that dish left a stronger impression on my palate by comparison.
The Cauliflower is well-seasoned and cooked, and of course, completely vegetarian. Patrons seeking vegetarian food will be pleased to eat this with the Cumin Basmathi Rice.
|Fish Curry (Red Snapper)|
I liked the Fish Curry, the thick gravy was well-balanced and fragrant. For me, the curry was not too oily, it was not salty and it was not spicy! The fish itself was fresh, the flesh was firm and did not disintegrate into pieces. I preferred this dish paired with the Garlic Basmathi Rice, as the Cumin Basmathi Rice overpowered the flavour of the curry.
|Lamb Tikka Masala|
This creamy Lamb Tikka Masala had a slight earthy taste, and definitely made to pair with Naan Bread. The delicious mutton was tender, and the buttery-smooth thick gravy well-balanced in terms of flavour and viscosity.
This dish is a bit oily and salty when compared to the other dishes, and therefore meant to be paired with plain tasting items like rice or bread. It had a strong flavour of spices, the mutton did not have a strong taste and was a little dry as befits meats done the dry curry way.
This fun vegetarian dish is potato based. Potatoes are first par-boiled, mashed and then rolled with spices to give it that distinctive shape and colour. It is then cooked and served with a thick Goan curry. I found it pairs well with either Garlic or Cumin Basmathi Rice, it is merely a matter of personal preference when it comes to flavour.
These are pieces of tender chicken, lightly seasoned and topped with cheddar cheese. These are best eaten as a side dish or as an appetiser.
Foods from The Maharaj is also available via Food Panda and Grab Food. But the menu online does not include the new items from South Africa. If you would like to make plans to dine-in this restaurant, be sure to give them a call first at 03-79685515 or drop them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've come to the end of this write-up, be sure to stay tuned as we work on bringing you more news on the ever developing F&B scene in the new normal. Thank you for reading! Fin. ~ Marv
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