Jinder Sekhorn – also known as Bobby – is an Indian chef well known for his successful Spice Hut restaurant at the Aliathon Holiday Village in Kato Paphos. And as the number of Indian restaurants in Paphos grows, he is behind one more: The Maharaja, hidden down a side road off Poseidonos Avenue, in a mostly residential (and somewhat shabby) side street in Kato Paphos. Something of a gamble, I hope it pays off because food at the Maharaja is superb.
Indian food might not be the first to spring to mind in the blistering summer heat, but once inside this air-conditioned, glass-fronted venue awash with tantalizing aromas wafting from the kitchen, my interest was piqued.
The waitress was all smiles as she brought over the extensive menus and a jolly welcome put our party of three at ease immediately. The colourful Indian inspired decoration adds to the ambience and the complementary poppadoms and chutneys are a lovely touch.
Bobby has learned much over the years, serving clients that have widely differing palates, from those who wish for hot and spicy offerings, others something milder, and those, like me, in the middle who still want a kick, but in a gentle and subtle form and will cater your dish to suit your taste.
His flavour profiles are layered and superior; lamb, chicken, prawn and vegetable dishes are properly seasoned, elevated and cooked to perfection; they really do melt in the mouth.
The Maharaja is a spacious venue with neat tables spaced generously apart. Indian style curtains hang at the large windows that overlook the street, while large Indian paintings soften the tables’ formal presentation.
We started with spiced yellow lentil soup, crisp samosas, king prawn puri and Punjabi fish, which is marinated and fried in gram flour batter. All were delicious
Served in traditional small metal bowls, the main courses are flavoursome and include chicken tikka masala, unsurprisingly a favourite with Maharaja customers – it’s tasty – while the tandoori dishes are a speciality.
My tandoori chicken arrives proudly paraded through the restaurant, set on a bed of sizzling onions creating a sensational fragrance that draws the attention of other diners. Cooked to perfection, it’s easily sliced and then savoured with relish. I also try the lamb rogan josh, which has a well rounded flavour and the pilau rice is light, fragrant and fluffy. The lamb the Buhna, I am told, is light and the vindaloo packs a well-balanced punch.
A selection of naan breads, plain, garlic and peshwari, are all superb.
Vegetarian options include Aloo Brinjal – aubergines and potatoes cooked in a special masala – and Bhindi Bhai, a ‘dry’ curry with okra, tomatoes and spices.
The wine list is adequate, and consists of a selection of reasonably priced local and imported wines. We order a bottle of a light, crisp Tsangarides, Xinisteri, a favourite of our trio for €16. For those that prefer an accompanying beer, local and imported Indian beer is also available. Or you could go for a fruit lassi – the mango one is sweet with a tart kick, delicious.
Service is charming, graceful and sensible and our wine were glasses filled at just the right time.
Bobby also creates superb range of Indian traditional sweets for weddings and celebrations and a small selection are available as desserts.
The carrot halva, my favourite, is rich and creamy and the gulab jamon – a classic Indian desert – and kulfi – a traditional Indian ice cream – are beautifully executed and enjoyable.
Maharaja is focused on Indian culinary tradition and while all the usual dishes are on the menu, they are far better than most I have tasted. Fresh, top quality ingredients and well executed harmonious flavours create a real experience of Indian food, not least because the owner/chef is passionate about what he does, and it shows on every plate.