Dining with an Indian Queen

Friday, 26 October 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 43 By  Miss Terry Diner

“Dining with an Indian Queen” might be stretching it a little, but after a couple of hours in the Royal Cliff’s Maharani restaurant, billed as the Queen of Indian flavors, I too felt like royalty with the décor, service and spices.

It had been three years since I had dined with the “Queen”, but I was very pleased to see the Indian atmosphere has continued.  The alcoves with crenated arches are just reminiscent of the Indian continent, and the service girls in the Indian-styled outfits all help to set the scene.  We were also fortunate to meet the head chef of the Indian kitchen Hasan Rij Giri, who is assisted by Pratap Singh.  Hasan is very proud of his kitchen and assured me that yes, he had a tandoori oven (and I am particularly fond of garlic naan, best made in the tandoor).

“Dining with an Indian Queen” might be stretching it a little, but after a couple of hours in the Royal Cliff’s Maharani restaurant, billed as the Queen of Indian flavors, I too felt like royalty with the décor, service and spices. It had been three years since I had dined with the “Queen”, but I was very pleased to see the Indian atmosphere has continued.  The alcoves with crenated arches are just reminiscent of the Indian continent, and the service girls in the Indian-styled outfits all help to set the scene.  We were also fortunate to meet the head chef of the Indian kitchen Hasan Rij Giri, who is assisted by Pratap Singh.  Hasan is very proud of his kitchen and assured me that yes, he had a tandoori oven (and I am particularly fond of garlic naan, best made in the tandoor). The Dining Out team in this instance was swelled to four with the additions being the new GM of the Royal Cliff Christoph Voegeli and the senior F&B director of the hotel complex, Max Josef Huber (himself previously being a chef) in addition to Madame, this time of Indian heritage.  With that group we had everything covered, as I will admit I am not particularly knowledgeable on Indian cuisine. Christoph chose the first wine, being one from the area of Germany where he grew up.  This was a Dr. Burklin-Wolf reisling, sweet enough to handle the curries that Indian food can provide.  Having a look at the wine list myself, an addition has been small maps of the regions where the grapes were grown.  A nice touch.  The wine list is also very detailed and caters for all palates and pockets.  Even the house wine, which comes from the well known Australian Penfolds vineyard, is only B. 1,250.  Very pleasant and eminently quaffable.  We managed a bottle of the Penfolds after the German reisling. We settled on eight dishes between the four of us, after discussion with chef Hasan.  These were the Prawn Till Tikka, a Paneer Tikka Akbari, a Goan Fish Curry, a Lamb Bhuna Gosht, Garlic Naan, vegetable Jel Ferzi, a Daal Tarka and Basmati rice.  A good wide spread, with none being over-the-top curry-wise. I must comment first on the Basmati rice.  The lightest, fluffiest rice that has been my pleasure to eat.  Do order it with your curries. My garlic naan arrived, not overly oily or tough, but again an excellent dish from the Maharani’s Indian kitchen. The first course we had was the Prawn Till Tikka.  These were plump prawns encrusted with sesame seeds, and were absolutely mouthwateringly delightful.  Another dish that was not at all spicy, but was certainly “more-ish”. The Paneer Tikka Akbari was another dish that received the plaudits of our Indian member of the Dining Out team.  The cheese dices had good consistency and this dish was an example of being marinated in Mughal Akbari mixture and then cooked in the tandoor. Next up Chef Hasan provided us with a Goan fish curry.  This is almost a Goan staple with the fish cooked in ginger paste, fresh coconut, coriander, cumin, turmeric and red and green chillies.  Spicy but not over the top, and certainly very flavorsome. The Lamb Bhuna Gosht was another curry prepared with a delicate touch.  This is a style of Northern Indian cooking where the sauce is reduced to a point where it is really thick and clings to the meat.  Superb! Like most Royal Cliff outlets, the Maharani does come across as something special.  It is a restaurant to which you take special people for special occasions, and still be very pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the restaurant actually is.  Once again, the Maharani restaurant shows that it is a cut above the Birmingham Balti’s and should not be spoken about in the same sentence.  We had a very enjoyable evening and we can recommend the Maharani without question. Maharani Restaurant, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pratamnak Road, South Pattaya, telephone 038 250 421.  Closed Mondays.  Hours 11 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. for breakfast/lunch and then 6 p.m. though to last orders 10.30 p.m. for dinner.  Secure parking within the Royal Cliff Beach Resort grounds.

The Dining Out team in this instance was swelled to four with the additions being the new GM of the Royal Cliff Christoph Voegeli and the senior F&B director of the hotel complex, Max Josef Huber (himself previously being a chef) in addition to Madame, this time of Indian heritage.  With that group we had everything covered, as I will admit I am not particularly knowledgeable on Indian cuisine.

Christoph chose the first wine, being one from the area of Germany where he grew up.  This was a Dr. Burklin-Wolf reisling, sweet enough to handle the curries that Indian food can provide.  Having a look at the wine list myself, an addition has been small maps of the regions where the grapes were grown.  A nice touch.  The wine list is also very detailed and caters for all palates and pockets.  Even the house wine, which comes from the well known Australian Penfolds vineyard, is only B. 1,250.  Very pleasant and eminently quaffable.  We managed a bottle of the Penfolds after the German reisling.

We settled on eight dishes between the four of us, after discussion with chef Hasan.  These were the Prawn Till Tikka, a Paneer Tikka Akbari, a Goan Fish Curry, a Lamb Bhuna Gosht, Garlic Naan, vegetable Jel Ferzi, a Daal Tarka and Basmati rice.  A good wide spread, with none being over-the-top curry-wise.

I must comment first on the Basmati rice.  The lightest, fluffiest rice that has been my pleasure to eat.  Do order it with your curries.

My garlic naan arrived, not overly oily or tough, but again an excellent dish from the Maharani’s Indian kitchen.

The first course we had was the Prawn Till Tikka.  These were plump prawns encrusted with sesame seeds, and were absolutely mouthwateringly delightful.  Another dish that was not at all spicy, but was certainly “more-ish”.

The Paneer Tikka Akbari was another dish that received the plaudits of our Indian member of the Dining Out team.  The cheese dices had good consistency and this dish was an example of being marinated in Mughal Akbari mixture and then cooked in the tandoor.

Next up Chef Hasan provided us with a Goan fish curry.  This is almost a Goan staple with the fish cooked in ginger paste, fresh coconut, coriander, cumin, turmeric and red and green chillies.  Spicy but not over the top, and certainly very flavorsome.

The Lamb Bhuna Gosht was another curry prepared with a delicate touch.  This is a style of Northern Indian cooking where the sauce is reduced to a point where it is really thick and clings to the meat.  Superb!

Like most Royal Cliff outlets, the Maharani does come across as something special.  It is a restaurant to which you take special people for special occasions, and still be very pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive the restaurant actually is.  Once again, the Maharani restaurant shows that it is a cut above the Birmingham Balti’s and should not be spoken about in the same sentence.

We had a very enjoyable evening and we can recommend the Maharani without question.

Maharani Restaurant, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pratamnak Road, South Pattaya, telephone 038 250 421.  Closed Mondays.  Hours 11 a.m. until 2.30 p.m. for breakfast/lunch and then 6 p.m. though to last orders 10.30 p.m. for dinner.  Secure parking within the Royal Cliff Beach Resort grounds.

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