When J. is in town, there are two things he always reminds me of regarding food: he wants Indian food and he wants to try Nogales Hot Dogs from the cart at 20th Street and Indian School Road. As much as I like Indian food, I always have to be in a mood for it, but J. has informed me that Indian food is his favorite cuisine. This leads to some compromises, and I think J. was thrilled that I finally said I had a craving for some samosas and mango chutney.
After doing some research, I found a place in Glendale that seemed to fit the bill for our meal. So, J. and I headed over to Maharaja Palace and looked forward to a flavorful meal. Pulling into the strip mall parking lot, we noticed that a large chunk of it was under construction and the security lights were disconnected. All we had to light our way was the moon and the faint glow from the signs along the top of the strip mall. We parked and entered Maharaja to discover a quite large restaurant with a full bar and a long buffet steam table in the back.
We were immediately seated at a table and given menus. I noticed how quiet the vibe was at the restaurant, even with other patrons and Indian music wafting from the speakers. A reserved woman offered to get us our drinks and we each ordered a Diet Coke ($1.99 each). She left and we reviewed the menu which was quite substantial in choices. We were debating getting a family-style meal as we each wanted to try various dishes, but ended up settling with the individual dinners. We each chose the Non-Vegetarian Indian Dinner ($19.99) which featured five items and a dessert choice. Since we were quite hungry, we also selected the Sampler Plate ($7.99) as an appetizer. For good measure, we also ordered a side of Garlic Naan ($2.99).
When our server returned with our drinks, we placed our order and she gave us a faint smile and retreated to the kitchen. Moments later, a member of the staff brought a basket of pampadums to our table along with three dipping sauces including mango chutney. The typical cilantro and mint dip was present, but so was a sort of Indian salsa that was rich in flavor and included a nice bit of heat. I was thrilled with the mango chutney and it was perfect for countering the heat of the bread and the salsa.
About 10 minutes passed and our Appetizer Sampler arrived. The oval plate was filled with such treats as lamb sausage, pakoras, pieces of Chicken Tikka and a huge samosa that was filled with seasoned lentils. A side of tamarind dipping sauce accompanied the dish. I thought the sausage was decent, but could have used a bit more seasoning. The pakoras were excellent with a crunchy batter coating and lots of fresh vegetables inside. The stand out was the Chicken Tikka pieces with a wonderful smoky taste and a tiny bit of sweetness from the marinade. We also liked the flavor of the lentil samosa although I wish the temperature of the samosa had been much hotter. It was slightly warm which I felt gave it a somewhat greasy texture.
While we waited for our entrees, one of the staff was kind enough to bring over a carafe of Diet Coke which was greatly appreciated. In my book, everyone is a winner with this practice as we get plenty of beverages and the staff doesnâ€™t have to make as many trips.
When our Non-Vegetarian Indian Dinners were brought out, I had some regrets that we had splurged on the appetizers. The amount of food on the plate was enormous and certainly would satiate J. and me. I immediately liked the set up of the plate. The large metal plate held cups containing our various tidbits with the Tandoori Chicken lying quietly amongst the cups. Along with our meal, we were served a hefty portion of Garlic Naan. J. and I meticulously began our assault on our meals.
Grabbing a piece of the naan, we first tried the vindaloo with its kick of heat and plentiful chunks of lamb. It was wonderfully spicy and the meat was very tender. Next was the lentil stew that was robust and flavorful. I liked the fact that the lentils had a bit of body to them and were not cooked down to a mush. The Chicken Tikka Masala was quite good with its buttery sauce and strong tomato flavor. The Basmati Rice was an excellent accompaniment and the two large pieces of Tandoori Chicken were delicious. All of this was rounded out by a serving of Raita, the yogurt-based condiment mixed with mint and coriander. Everything was very good to excellent on the plate and we were very pleased with our choice of the platter.
The Garlic Naan itself was spot on. The bread was slightly doughy, crispy, charred in spots and loaded with garlic and lots of flavor. We were big fans of the bread and could have had another serving.
At the end of our meal, we were pretty much stuffed and then realized we still had dessert to encounter. Our server asked us our choices and I selected the Gulab Jamun while J. had the Kheer. They were brought to our table in minutes.
My Gulab Jamun was the traditional small spheres of dough and cheese in a honey sauce. The serving size was perfect and I loved the taste of the tender bites. The sauce was not overly heavy. My only preference would have been that the dessert was warmed. Now, this isnâ€™t a big deal because it is personal preference and the heating or chilling of Gulab seems to be a great debate, but I tend to lean toward a warmer version. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed them.
J.â€™s Kheer was a the standard preparation of rice pudding with hints of cardamom and a few slivered almonds sprinkled in for texture. I liked the thin rendition of the pudding and J. said it was a perfect way to end a heavy meal.
We requested our bill and the total was $57.44 which included tax. Service was polite and friendly and won points with us for the carafe of sodas. Also the friendliness of the owner who checked on us during our meal and thanked us for our patronage when we left made an impression.
After muddling back to the car in the dark parking lot, J. and I were happy with our trek from Arcadia to Maharaja Palace in Glendale. Other than a few personal preferences in the meal such as the temperature of the samosa and my dessert, we both felt our trip was successful and we would return again.
On the way home, we passed by the Nogales Hot Dog cart and J. made it a point to say that the next time he was in the Valley, we would be going there.
5775 West Bell Road
Glendale, AZ 85308
Hours: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Sunday through Saturday; 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Sunday through Saturday.
Notes: Behind Tokyo Lobby. Plenty of Parking. Lunch buffet available.
Alcohol: Full Bar.