There was once an Indian restaurant in Jln. Danau Poso called Maharani. It has since moved around the corner to Jln. Cemara, and been renamed as Little India. Before it had not been very busy, but now it is busy every night. No wonder, the food is great and the prices are very reasonable.
It is a simple restaurant, just an eating house, white and clean with staff eager to please. Indian appetizers are dangerous. It is very easy to order too many of them, as they all taste so good. At Little India, apart from the Samosas which are sold per each [and a free plate often arrives un-ordered] all the entrée plates are large serves. If you are ordering a number of different ones then they are large enough to share between 3-4 people, so you can select a variety of tastes.
The Samosas are not of the crunchy Indian pastry type but the shell is still thin and crisp, inside stacked full of chunks of potatoes, peas and things all mixed in a curry sauce. Dribble the accompanying mint and coriander dip on top and savour the taste of India. As well as the Vegetarian version, which I prefer, there are also Chicken and Mutton Samosas.
Onion Bhaji is clusters of onion rings dipped in a wild red curry paste [violent in colour but mild in taste] and deep fried till very crisp. The Chicken Pakora gets a similar treatment using small strips and pieces of boneless chicken flesh. Tandoori Chicken Wings are the chicken drumlets sold all over Bali as wings, the wing bone wrapped in foil for easy eating and a cluster of tender meat that has been through the marinating and tandoor oven process. Perfect!
The Khatirolls are magnificient. A long way from the street stalls of Kolkata where they originated as a Mughlai specialty. Your choice of shredded mutton, chicken or just vegetables rolled in a soft paratha, wrapped in tin foil then baked, which makes them almost steamed. Enough to share but you will want it all for yourself.
Indian Martabak is very different from the Indonesian and Thai dishes of the same name. Indians pour a thin coating of a liquid roti mix on to a hot plate, kneading it with a spatula whilst adding the filling and rolling into an oblong shape. At Little India they can be stuffed with mutton, chicken or just shredded vegetables. They even do an egg version. So good!
Before ordering mains in an Indian restaurant of this quality take some time to select your accompanying breads and rice. A full range of Naans are available; with flavours of butter, cheese, garlic and onion or in more exotic form stuffed with minced lamb, nuts, etc. Rice can be equally confusing. A simple Pulao [infused with a saffron scent] is normally sufficient or in the Kashmir version with nuts and dried fruits added if you wish. An actual rice meal is the Biryani when combined with vegetables, meat or prawns.
Main selection is also a problem at Little India, there are more than 50, and all are interesting!
Chicken is done in the Tandoor in many different ways. All are marinated in yoghurt and spices before being baked in the tandoor. The ever popular Tikka Masala is hard to go past. Murk Tikka uses boneless chunks of chicken and Murk Tikka Haryali is the same but with mint. The Malai Tikka has crushed cashew nuts added to the mix. Akbari Kebab uses a chicken breast stuffed with spicy minced lamb. Tandoori Prawns are of the large variety marinated in a garlic, ginger and yoghurt mix before being grilled in the tandoor. Chicken Shaslik introduces an Arab element, skewered chunks of meat alternate with slices of onion, capsicum and tomato.
A Mixed Grill combines Chicken,.Mutton and Fish Tikkas with a Kebab all on one plate.
Most of the wet curries can be had in the same style with mutton or chicken and sometimes fish or prawns as well. The Mutton Shahi Korma turned our table into smiles all-round. Being mutton the meat had an intense flavour, being cooked long and slow it was also so tender that it could be separated with a fork. Simmered in a mild creamy sauce with ground cashew nuts and finely chopped boiled egg it was one of those dishes that you just wanted to keep on eating!
The Keema Mattar uses minced meat whilst the Pasanda is with onion, tomato and chilli then topped with cheese. The Zalfraize is another that is simmered long and slow with onions, capsicums, tomato and another different batch of spices. Then there is that wonderful creation from Portuguese Goa, the Vindaloo. Renowned for being fiery hot, in fact it is more of an intensely rich curry like no other, combining so many different spices, rather than being necessarily that hot. Again your choice of chicken or mutton [no beef here as Little India is strict Indian hindu].
Dalcha is chunks of meat in a sauce from mashed lentils. Pure Dhals can be Makhni [black] or Tadka [yellow]. As always with Indian cuisines the variety and taste amongst the vegetarian options is outstanding. Malai Kofta is croquettes of minced vegetables and cottage cheese, Dum Aloo Kasmiri is simmered baby potatoes, tomato, dried fruits and onion in yogurt. Aloo Mattar combines chunks of potato with green peas.
Great flavours, the spices not overdone but full of so much flavour! The prices are fairly amazing with the average main at only $4, which almost makes it Indian prices as well! Come once and you will come again!