Friday, 10 August 2012

Restaurant review: Maharaja Liverpool

I started this blog with the intention to share my love of food, cooking, eating and visiting local restaurants but until now I have not written a restaurant review. The demands of a small baby has meant less time for eating out and more time to spend on my own recipes, although I have visited far too many coffee and cake shops since being on maternity leave. I have not been a total restaurant recluse, the odd babysitter now and again plus some great family friendly restaurants in Liverpool have provided me a fix of good food without the washing up. One place I have visited a few times recently is Maharaja; a Keralan restaurant on London Road, which is definitely one of the best Indian restaurants I have visited in England. I absolutely adore Indian food, it has always been the top of my list and I am always in search of more authentic recipes and restaurants. I have visited various regions of India, including southern India and can definitely say that the curry houses that we have over here rarely hit the spot when it comes to authenticity. That is not to say that I have not found good Indian restaurants in England ; UNI, Sultan's palace and Mayur ( the quail massala there is great) are all worth a visit if you are in Liverpool. After hearing good words, Maharaja had been on my ' to go ' list for a while but was one of those I did not get around to until a few months ago and now I kick myself for leaving it so long.

My recent visit was for a family meal, with nine of us tucking into a mini feast. My mum was a little hesitant about going as she is not that adventurous and was worried about the food being too hot but that is the thing about good Indian food; it is all about spices and flavours not how much heat you can take before breaking out into a sweat. The obligatory popadams were ordered, which arrived with a large selection of dips including a punchy lime pickle. The menu is quite big but not too overwhelming, with a good selection of vegetarian and fish dishes as well as meat dishes, including beef which is popular in the south of India. For starters, the Kerala Bonda was the dish of the choice for a few of us; lightly spiced potato balls fried in chickpea flour that were not too heavy and left plenty of room for mains. The others ordered chicken butter fry and chicken puffs for starters, both of which were good although the puff was a little dry. For our main meals, me and my husband shared the lamb mappas; a  richly spiced curry with ginger, chilli and garlic, and  the masala dosa which we had on our first visit and was so delicious that we hard to order again. It is very hard to get a ' proper' dosa in Liverpool, in fact Maharaja is the only place which I have found them to be like the ones you get in India. You can also enjoy traditional ' Idli ' , that can also be hard to find. The dosa, a (very) large folded pancake,  comes filled with spiced potatoes and comes with a bowl of dhal and coconut chutney on the side; to be eaten with the hand. As with all of the meals we had ( highlights included the chicken Olatha and lamb chops)  the dosa is probably a bit too much for one person if you are ordering starters, rice and bread, so I would recommend sharing a few dishes if you are in a large group and sharing the rice and breads if in a couple. 

I never have a pudding in Indian restaurants, partly as they are usually just bought in frozen desserts but mostly as I am always too full after my main meal. Maharaja do have two or three homemade desserts on the menu, as well as the ice creams, but we all enjoyed are food so much we couldn't fit anymore in. The crockery and tableware is not fancy here and it could do with a lick of paint but what is most important is the high quality food, great service and excellent value for money; two courses plus paratha, rice and drinks came to around £20 each, which is a bargain these days. If you have not tried Maharaja and want to eat traditional Indian food then give them a visit, it is not often I struggle to find flaws in restaurants but this one really does tick all my boxes.

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