Musings on Food
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
One of the characteristics of a Foodie is an insatiable curiosity linked to a palate that constantly craves new tastes, new excitement in culinary adventures and new eating places to explore. I am unabashedly a Foodie and nothing gives me more pleasure than to discover a new restaurant serving variations on a culinary theme. The Mahraj’s Kitchen is one of these.
Opened only five months ago, this restaurant located in Old Town in the midst of ‘Little India’ is already garnering a fan base with its quite unusual (in the sense of different from the usual run-of-the-mill) offerings based on royal south Indian cuisine.
Proprietor Sinu, an affable young man who has left his profession in graphic design to set up the restaurant, was on hand to recommend his specialties of the house when Sara Tiagi invited me and a group of friends there recently.
Using only a photocopied menu which he says is still being printed, he proceeded to recommend dishes to us. As it was, the moment we walked in, we spied a lawyer friend of ours who immediately said, “You must try the Chicken 65”. Curiosity is my second nature so I immediately ordered that and listened to the rest of the recommendations that Sinu was making.
And did we order up a storm. The Chicken 65 arrived, small nuggets of boneless chicken marinated in their special blend of herbs and spices, dipped in batter and deep fried, then once again sautéed and coated in a robust, thick sauce with a hint of sugar. Absolutely delectable and not a dish to stop at the first bite. In fact the dish disappeared so fast that we ordered a second helping – RM6.90.
The second dish was the Fried Pepper Mutton, boneless pieces marinated and coated with a very generous helping of black pepper which lent its pepperiness to the bite sized pieces. A bit on the salty side but appealed to my very salty palate – RM8.90. This was followed by a host of dishes in quick succession.
The Kerala Tullagadda certainly seduced my taste buds, never having eaten this anywhere else before. A vegetarian dish, it consisted of potatoes topped with a mix of dessicated coconut with herbs and crispy crunch provided by fried lentils. A fresh clean taste enhanced by the subtle spicing and crunch. This was simply irresistible and despite being a low carb eater and generally avoiding potatoes, I almost ate the whole portion myself – RM6.90.
The Gongura Chicken, chicken pieces cooked in a green sauce made with sorrel leaves was tangy and had some fire to it, the sorrel lending a slight tartness to the sauce without the fruitiness of our local tamarind – RM5.80 small; RM8.90 large. Also Gongura Mutton RM7.90 small; RM10.90 large.
Mahraj Kitchen has an interesting choice of flavoured rice some of which I have never tasted before. We ordered one each of the Jeera (cumin seeds) and Lemon rice as well as the more traditional chicken and mutton Briyani. The Jeera rice was redolent with the aroma of cumin seeds RM2.90 and the Lemon rice was tinged with the fragrance of lemon RM2.90. The chicken and mutton Briyani were very generous portions of robustly flavoured basmati rice, with ample helpings of chicken and mutton hiding in its depths. On another occasion I also had the 65 Briyani which had the aforementioned 65 Chicken flavouring the rice. The Briyani prices range from RM5.90 for vegetarian (excellent) to RM11.90 for a large mutton portion. Small portions are also available.
Signature dishes here include a whole range of Bajji’s (or dumplings) from green chillies (Mirchi Bajji) to Punugullo with coconut, and a whole host of Pakodas made from chickpea flour.
An unusual feature here is their all day breakfast dishes where Thosai, Idly, Pooris and Uttappam are available throughout the day.
On a subsequent visit, Sinu informed me that they had finally received their Tandoori oven and naturally I had to sample their tandoori dishes. Their Tandoori Chicken was flavourful and served with a mint chutney – RM7.90 for a whole leg. The interesting Hearily Kebab which was chicken pieces smothered in mint, coriander and green chillies was tangy and had bite to it – RM8.90. As the tandoor was brand new, Sinu promised new dishes would be appearing on the menu soon. I shall look forward to returning to sample some more of these unusual Hyderabad/Andhra dishes.Mahraj’s Kitchen (Halal)14 Jalan Sultan Yussuf (Little India)Tel: 05 242 6973;Sinu: 016 287 9492; Premila: 016 427 6973Business Hours: 8.30am-10pm – 7 days a week.