Address: Pokrovka ul., 2/1, entrance from Staroposadsky per.
Tel: +7 495 621-9844 / 7758
Open from 12:30 until 23:00.
All major credit cards are accepted.
Spice Girl - Alice Experiments with Indian
By Alice Babington Hill
Maharaja was faced with a challenge: to impress two busy girls-about-town who weren't in the mood for a curry, both attempting that Lent Thing, that Weight Thing and that Wild Friday Night in Moscow Thing.
Once at our table, Natasha and I welcomed a few minutes to take stock of our surroundings. The atmosphere was civilised, friendly and surprisingly calm. With the exception of the unattractive (yet unobtrusive) chairs, the decor was unremarkable at first. After closer inspection however, I noticed some truly beautiful Indian items of furniture: chests, screens, pictures and frames, all intricately decorated. Maharaja has the potential to be truly classy. Admittedly it is still ever so slightly reminiscent of a local curry house, but such quirkiness is endearing, and it clearly doesn't deter the new-Russian clientele who were evidently enjoying the place; despite the fact that the restaurant was full; I could only spot one Indian patron.
Feeling so comfortable in our surroundings, we both immediately forgot about the Lent Thing and ordered an Indian Kingfisher Beer (125 rbl) and spent some time studying the extensive menu. (There were no less than 18 items listed under the "Vegetarian" heading, for example). Following a slight personal exposure to proper Indian cuisine, I was determined not to be satisfied with korma and a naan. So with the assistance of Rawat, the ever present and ever helpful manager, we were able to choose a varied selection of generally mouth-watering dishes.
I must say, there are few moments during the Moscow winter when, if you shut your eyes, you can imagine yourself wearing a bikini lying under a palm tree. Surprisingly, sipping the soft orange House Mango Shake (160 rbl) was one of them. A very good start. We then tried the tandoori prawns (660 rbl) and the machli tikka (450 rbl) which is a fish tandoor so tender you can slice your knife through it, no problem. The flavours were fresh and enticing yet the taste wasn't imposing. We also tried the samosa pirozhki (60 rbl) which were ever so slightly dry and floury.
For our main course, we opted for a base of plain pilau rice and peshwari naan, and accompanied these with three dishes. Palan paneer (320 rbl) which can best be described as lumps of white cheese in spinach (sounds revolting but I promise is addictive) and mung palan (450 rbl) which is chicken in the same spinach based sauce. We also sampled Baigan Bharsa (320 rbl), a weighty charcoal roasted aubergine dish which had a surprising amount of kick to it.
We had both asked for our food to be "a bit fiery but not too much". This request had clearly been taken on board because I didn't at any point feel challenged by the spiciness of the food, merely by the quantity (conveniently forgetting about the Weight Thing). Suffice to say we left happily stuffed and therefore incapable of furthering any plans to go dancing, thus Maharaja also succeeded in destroying our Wild Friday Night Thing.
Not that we were disappointed at all, on the contrary, Maharaja was a pleasant surprise. Any visit with a willingness to experiment against ordering the norm should ensure not only an education of the taste buds but also a change in curry house habits. Maharaja rose to the challenge admirably.