It was time to get CCU’s bhangra on again as she channelled her inner Indian and decided to swivel her hips into another restaurant where the smell of curry, paneer and fresh mango lassi permeated the air.
Grabbing the bottom of her sari, she sashayed in, followed by her equally dressed up, jewelled up family and like royalty, they seated themselves to be transported back to Old India…
Do you remember I went to another Indian restaurant and reviewed it? Castle Taj? Well, that was good. Now, in comparison to the review I am about to show you today, it seems to-tahl-ly average. Legit. And I suppose this is to be expected when Haveli has the reputation for having the best chaat in Sydney. But more on that later
You walk into Maharaja’s Haveli and BAM, I don’t know if you subconsciously fell into the DeLorean or into the Doctor’s Tardis but you feel an instantaneous connection with old India. I wish I could have taken photos to show you but there are models everywhere, of beautiful old fashioned weaving, rickshaws and scenes from the time of kings, when India was at its peak!
The restaurant is actually divided into three parts.
- The café-style low-key area. There is no fine-dining jazz, it is simple chairs and tables, with a menu above the counter and a huge display of Indian sweets.
- The fine dining room. Adorned by photos of old Indian kings, colours, old-style seating, regal portraits and wonderful artefacts from the old world such as pottery and serving dishes. If you want to dress fancy, I recommend you sit here
- The vegetarian ‘real experience’. Now I did not know about this but according to granddaddy, there is a section in which you sit down, cross legged (bet you have not done that in a while) and are served in the traditional style of eating on a banana leaf – fun right?
We chose the fine-dining room, and were quite impressed. Water was on the table right on arrival, which was good start. But then disappointingly, our table of 6 got only 3 menus, which we found to be a little inconvenient.
Then arrived the customary pappadums, thin, a little extra oily but deliciously crunchy complimentary snacks to ‘wet the appetite’. They came with a light, refreshing mint chutney. While I am not a huge fan of these crisps, I did enjoy Haveli’s basket
Entrée time! I am sure you are used to this by now but my family LOVES entrée. And we have good appetites. Put two and two together and you get a lot of entrees than usual. But when you see the photos, you will totally understand why
First up, was the Chilli Paneer – Cubes of homemade cottage cheese in a delicious chilli mix (Indian Style Chinese) ($15.90). If I may quote my brother, it was ‘Exquisite’. No other word for it. The paneer was soft and tender, the vegetables were far from dry and the dish was dripping with flavour. Win
Now, I mentioned above that Haveli is reputed for its chaat. Chaat Paapri. Now, there is no description, nor a price I can give you for this delectable entrée. So I will have to go out on limb. Basically, this dish consists of fried savoury doughy biscuits which are topped with homemade yoghurt, sweet Indian sauce, coriander chutney and spices. Throughout the biscuits, there is a scattering of boiled chickpeas and potato lumps, the entire dish being topped with shredded cabbage and more spice.
Love it? Yes. Would eat it forever? Yes.
Now we come to a little favourite of mine. Onion Bhaji – Onion rings dipped in a spicy chickpea batter and deep fried (2 pieces = $7.90). This dish is full of flavour. There was an explosion of flavour without the explosion of oil in your mouth, which is actually quite rare in Indian cooking!
Now, our family, as you can probably tell, is a little paneer obsessed. Homemade Indian cheese is never to be missed with us ;). Therefore, we ordered another paneer dish, the Paneer Tikka Khandari – Chunks of cottage cheese, capsicum, onions, marinated in yoghurt, herbs and spices & cooked in tandoor ($15.90). It was smoking hot and had a smoky flavour, which really heightened the flavours already infused in it. Oh, and the slight steaming when lemon was drizzled over it… oh yeah…
And look at how soft the paneer is!
You think we have finished our entrees? Hahahahahahahaha no.
My brother and daddy eat meat. Therefore, I have quite a treat for you meat lovers. Because my brother and daddy admitted that they have not had better Indian meat anywhere else. Ever. Oh snap! If that is not praise, I do not know what is!
Chicken. Chicken, chicken, chicken. Nawabi Murg Tikka – Boneless tender chicken marinated in tikka sauce overnight and cooked in a tandoor ($15.90). I am sorry, but truly, the description should be indicative of how delicious this must have tasted.
And how could they possibly not get the lamb? Succulent, fleshy, tender lamb? Lahori Barah Champ – Aromatic and succulent lamb cutlets with freshly ground spices and char-grilled to perfection ($17.90). My dad is not a huge fan of Indian lamb usually, but he could not stop eating it. I think that says enough for the quality of the meat!
Before I move onto mains, it is essential I mention the drinks, bien sur! The Mango Lassi ($5.50), a drink made from alphonso mango with yoghurt, was not heavy at all, rather sweet, heady and delicious! And with a cute design too!
Daddy stuck to his Lemon Lime Bitter ($4.50), a classic
Phew, finally, DINNER TIME ;)!!!!
Funnily enough, we are not really rice people, rather people in love with naan bread. Nothing beats delicious naan bread!
We get two types. First, the Garlic Naan –Plain flour bread spread with fresh garlic and cooked in tandoor ($3.50). As you can probably tell, they were nice and soft and flavoured beautifully!
We also got a basket of Plain Naan – Plain flour bread baked in tandoor and glazed with butter ($2.90) since, according to my brother, a classic is a classic!
As a refreshing accompaniment, I also ordered a Cucumber Raita – Grated cucumber with churned spice yoghurt ($4.90). It just provides that extra tangy kick with the heat of the curry! I was pleasantly surprised because it came as such a generous amount while usually, it is given in a relatively small bowl in other restaurants – no complaints here
Now, Curry #1: Multana Sabzi – Combination of mixed vegetables, spiced with fresh spinach in cashew nut based sauce ($17.90). Does that not sound utterly exotic? Yes? I agree, completely! It was an unusual flavour but quite tasty! I also loved the colour, that green is very attractive in food!
Curry #2: Kadahi Paneer (of course!) – Paneer pieces stir-fried with tomatoes, red chillies, onions, capsicum and home ground spices in a wok & cooked to perfection ($18.90) – Soft, tender paneer pieces in possibly the most delicious gravy I have ever had. Brilliant dish and one of my personal favourites
Curry #3: A staple dish for my brother and daddy, the Murg Makhni (Butter Chicken) – Tandoori chicken pieces cooked in a tomato puree and finished with butter and fresh cream ($22.90). Soft, tender and beautiful gravy, the smell made my mouth water!
Curry #4: Dhal Makhni Kandhari – Black pulses slow cooked overnight and finished with ghee and cream ($15.90) – This is a very creamy dish and one of the few dhals I could spoon. Legit.
Dinner, oh how fulfilling you were. So warming and curry-loving and delicious. But you were not the end of our culinary adventure.
You must know. Despite me telling you that my family is full of health-crazed, devoid of excess sweet consumption… um… abnormal people… sometimes (on a full moon), they gain the two stomachs that I carry on a daily basis
And sooo… we move on to…. Desserts!!!!!!
Meet Mr Falooda. Oh Sorry, Mr Kulfi Falooda. A pistachio and almond flavoured Indian ice cream dessert served with soft noodles with a dash of rose syrup and cream ($8.90). It is important, the distinction that this is Indian Ice Cream. It is made quite differently to normal ice cream. Frozen directly, no churning, it is a little icy when made at home. And the flavours. Oh the flavours. Yum…
The rose-flavoured infused noodles, god their flavours mingling with the ice cream is incredible. I don’t think I have ever tasted a better falooda anywhere else. And my dad. I think he legitimately wanted to adopt and nurture this falooda forever. It was definitely his baby
And, since this dinner was for my brother’s birthday back in March (yep, holding out on you haven’t I!), even he ate dessert. Dessert? More like a conglomeration of gorgeous sweets. My fit-like-hell, no sweets brother. He had Haveli’s Special Dessert – A combination of gulab jamun, kulfi and ice cream served with fresh cream and chocolate topping ($11.90). But he was not completely off his rocker, he declined the cream and chocolate topping, which was a smart move.
I mean, I am all for lotsa-sugar, but chocolate and gulab jamun? Whipped cream and kulfi? There are some combinations that any chocolate lover could not stomach. My brother, he devoured this. The gulab jamun was warm and soft,the kulfi and vanilla ice cream was drizzling all around. Heaven to touch up any meal!
The elders of my family finished off the meal with some paan, an Indian stimulating preparation of tobacco and areca nut, wrapped in betel leaf. Here, it came in a small bowl with a spoon, not traditionally. Can you believe I used to eat this? Give me liquorice any day but it is quite a strong part of Indian foodie culture
- Very fast service but honestly, the waiter was giving a ‘hurry eat and get going’ vibe, similar to Red Spoon Thai actually…
- Nice solid gap between entrée and dinner, usually misjudged by many restaurants, of around 20 minutes
- Brought new napkins and cutlery between courses – a small but significant aspect of good dining!
- One thing was that the café and formal dining room had different menus – the chaat was actually not on the menu in the formal room, yet when asked for, was available – everything should be available everywhere – it is less confusing and makes for more business therefore is a win-win situation
- Unlike Taj, the leftovers came packed, thankfully
- A Personal Request: In an Indian restaurant with mainly Indian families, DO NOT play cricket matches… otherwise no one talks to each other… take it from experience
Booking: Usually not necessary
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Address & Contact Details:
14 Douglas Road
Number: 9626 1913