Popular Ipswich Indian restaurant launches vegan menu
PUBLISHED: 09:22 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 31 July 2019
Our reviewer tried out a selection of the dishes from the extensive new range at The Maharani on Norwich Road
Award-winning Indian restaurant The Maharani has long been a firm favourite among local foodies, winning countless loyal customers over the years with its authentic, boldly-flavoured dishes. So, when I heard that this popular curry house had launched a new vegan menu - and better yet, that I'd been invited down to give it a try - I had high hopes indeed.
I made my way down to The Maharani on a Sunday evening, accompanied by my mum, who was ready to give a meat-eater's perspective on the vegan plates.
Restaurant owner Manik Miah gave us a warm greeting, showed us to our table beside the window and proudly presented us with the new, 100% vegan menu. Each dish is brand new and has been specially crafted by the restaurant's chefs, Manik explained as we perused the plant-based offerings. The first thing that struck me as I cast an eye down the menu was just how extensive it was. With 15 main dishes and a wide array of starters and sides, this was a welcome change from many vegan menus I've seen in the past which have consisted of a paltry two or three choices.
After a little guidance from Manik, we put our order in, and tucked into some poppadoms and chutneys as we waited for our first course to arrive. I was polishing off the last shard of my poppadom when the starters appeared at our table - we'd gone for some garlic mushrooms, along with a bengum pakora and a saag and onion pakora each. The pakoras came on the same plate, but took very different forms. The saag and onion pakora was flat, crispy and dark from frying, while the begum pakora was a lighter, fluffier sphere, which almost had the appearance of a dumpling. Filled with aubergine, the bengum pakora made for a wonderfully light starter, perfect for those wanting to save some room for the main event. The saag and onion pakora, meanwhile, was deliciously crunchy and bursting with flavour, with spinach running throughout. The garlic mushrooms were also very tasty, with a nice sprinkling of coriander over the top.
Now, onto the mains. To give us a chance to try a variety of dishes from the menu, Manik told us that the kitchen would prepare some 'sample size' plates - letting us sample seven main dishes in total. As they made their way over to our table, we were amazed by just how generous these sample sizes were. We had quite the feast on our hands.
First up was the hariali, which consisted of potatoes, spinach, sweetcorn and a variety of other vegetables, all topped with fresh mint and coriander leaves. Just lovely. Next, we turned our attention to the vegetable handi korai, which came served in its own little pot. Lifting the lid, we discovered a wonderfully aromatic dish or potatoes and mixed vegetables, which certainly had a bit of a kick to it. I then made my way over to the sizzling tandoori mixed grill. Steaming away on top of a hot plate were chargrilled peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, each of which had a delightfully deep, smoky flavour to them.
The aloo and gobi dansak was also calling my name, and proved to be one of my favourite dishes of the night. The rich, nicely spiced sauce that coated the potatoes paired especially well with the coconut rice what we had ordered as a side dish, and it's a combination that I would definitely order again. In an audacious move, I had also ordered a sample serving of the vegetable chilli masala, which, as the very name would suggest, was the hottest dish of the night. If you like a hot curry, this one could be for you, but it was just a little too fiery for me. After downing a glass of iced water, I was ready to continue, and decided to tackle the shobzi fusion. This was a much milder dish, consisting of a tasty mixed vegetable medley, and would suit anyone who struggles with spice. As for the final dish in our tasting platter, the tandoor brinjal, this aubergine-based dish also proved a hit with both of us, full of flavour and just the right amount of spice.
After such a decadent dinner, we hadn't even considered ordering anything sweet, but when Manik approached our table with the dessert menu, we were quickly persuaded to indulge in another course. My mum went for the pistachio kulfi, and for the sake of variety, I opted for the mint surprise. Maybe not the most exciting dessert I'll ever eat, but it was cooling and refreshing, and a perfectly pleasant way to end the meal.
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The Maharani has an extensive wine list, along with a selection of Indian lagers, spirits and liqueurs.
Friendly and welcoming - we were made to feel right at home as soon as we arrived and were well looked after throughout our meal.
Parking and location
You can find The Maharani at 46 Norwich Road in Ipswich. There is a large car park behind the restaurant, accessible from South Street.
Starters on the vegan menu range from £2.75 to £3.95, and mains range from £7.95 to £8.95.
Our three favourite dishes of the night were the saag and onion pakora, the hariali and the vegetable handi korai. We were also impressed by the lemon and coconut rice that we ordered as side dishes, which make a nice alternative to the standard pilau.