This little gem, tucked away in Fountain Squar, off main road in Rondebosch, is bit of an oasis for anyone looking for a wide selection of authentic Indian vegetarian and vegan food. The first thing you’ll notice, and perhaps be confused by, is the endless list of options on the mains menu. Whilst the appetizers menu is limited to chilli bites, spring rolls, and samosas, (you must try the spinach and paneer flavor) the curry menu offers over 30 options ranging from vegetarian chicken, to soya mince through to legume-based options. And that’s not including another separate section on the menu for wraps, and another for bunny chows, and another for biryanis. I find having so many options on a menu quite confusing, not to mention anxiety inducing. However, considering the rarity of strictly veg joints in Cape Town, it’s nice to know that if I wanted to, I could order a different veg meal every evening for a well over a month. With most of the curries costing R55, and even less for the bunny chows and the wraps, it’s undeniably excellent value for money. We went with the vegetable chicken curry and the chickpea and butternut curry. Fake meats are always a bit of an oddity, you want them to taste like meat, and yet you know that they can’t possibly get the taste perfectly. This was without a doubt the closest any has come to tasting like chicken. It looks like chicken, and it has a similar texture, and with the added spices, it just tastes like a really good chicken curry. As a disclaimer I should mention that I am not a vegetarian, although I have dabbled in long periods of vegetarian eating. But the best part about Maharaj’s curries is that we never felt like we were missing out on the meat element of the dish, even with the very tasty chickpea and butternut curry.
Maharaj is a non-alcoholic establishment, so unfortunately no wine menu or craft beers to wash down their deliciously spicy curries. However, the Mango Lassi and their Banana Mint and Honey drink make for a great stand in for their rather lackluster dessert selection of vegan muffins, eggless brownie, and vermicelli.
It’s informal yet friendly. You place an order at the counter, and a few minutes later someone brings food to your table, and it works perfectly efficiently for the kind of establishment.
With counter service, an uninspiring location with a view of a parking garage, no liquor license, and only five pretty basic tables, it’s not about to become your favourite hangout spot. Sit down and eat if you must, but I’d recommend you just order take away, to be enjoyed at home, or any other cosier setting.
If you’re on the lookout for spices, condiments, or meat substitutes, there’s a wide range to take home with you.
From her homely kitchen, chef-patron Theresa Peters creates healthy plant-based cuisine suitable for vegans, with no dairy (coconut cream instead), no gelatine and no ghee. Her fragrant fare is layered with spice and delicate flavour. She uses textured soya to create her signature vegetarian ‘chicken’ or ‘prawn’ curry, paneer and korma, showcasing the humble chickpea, pea and lentil. All dishes are available with biryani, rice and rotis, with raita and dhal on the side.
Try a sweet Bombay crush with rose syrup.
It might take hours to cook the curry but they’re quick to dish it.
A contemporary café space and popular student hang-out for good-value vegetarian fare.
Try a selection of some of the best homemade samoosas in town. (GH, October 2012)
For years now I have been popping into Maharaja's for our fortnightly if not weekly weekend curry of choice. The vegetable korma at Maharaja's has to date been unchallenged by far more classy expensive Indian restaurants. I don't know what's in that korma that makes it so delicious and tasty. I'm a creature of habit so go back for the same thing. I'm yet to be found bored with the choice. The service is excellent, always with a smile.