The other day I had ordered thali at an Indian restaurant in East Perth – it was quite good, but I remembered some I had before at Maya Masala in Northbridge so, Lady FWO in tow, I headed into town to reacquaint myself.
The restaurant is a largish area, well fitted out, with comfortable seats and tables, as well as quite a lot of booth style seating, and it was into one of the booths we went. We had a look through the menu for appearances sake but my mind was set on a thali – the Indian meal made up of a selection of dishes – usually served up in individual steel bowls on a larger steel plate. Maya Masala offers three types – vegetarian, non- vegetarian and seafood – we chose the latter two.
But briefly on the menu – it is as is often the case in Indian spots a large, expansive list with a range of seafood, meat, dhal and vegetable dishes, along with breads, rice dishes, sides, and desserts. There is certainly a good choice of sound, well known Indian recipes – vindaloo, jalfrezi, madras, rojan josh and the like.
The drinks list is reasonably small, but includes some nice wines and beers; we plumped for a bottle of Victory Point rosé, which proved to be a very good choice. It is blushing pink with lifted strawberry aromas, with a hint of pomegranate on the nose. This Margaret River produced wine has lovely creamy berry notes on the palate, good acid, and finishes dry – a great accompaniment to spicy food.
We started with a bowl of pappadums and a desi salad while we waited for our thali.
The pappadums were well cooked, crisp and crunchy, and came with a tangy mint dipping sauce. The salad was simply red onion sliced finely, topped with sliced green chilli, a squeeze of lemon juice and some spice sprinkled over. Not everyone’s cup of tea – but as an onion and chilli lover, I thought it fine – fresh, mildly spicy and a good little starter for me.
The thali were made up of a mound of steamed rice, roti, pappadum, dhal, chick pea curry, yoghurt and a sweetened rice pudding. The seafood also had a bowl of Goan fish curry and one of prawn jalfrezi, while the non-veg came with the addition of butter chicken and lamb rojan josh.
The dhal was very mild, but well cooked, the lentils nicely mushy but still retaining some shape; rice grains were separate and not all gluggy as can sometimes be the case; the roti had some nice charring and was soft and doughy, good for mopping up the sauces, while the yoghurt provided a little relief from the spiciness of the curries.
The chick pea curry was nutty with a good chilli zing.
Butter chicken was juicy and tender, the mild spices well integrated and the accompanying sauce creamy and tangy. The chicken fell apart on the fork; it was a good, well constructed dish.
Goan fish curry was beautifully flavoured – the fish was firm, but moist and tender, the sauce full of the aromas and taste of coconut, tamarind, chilli, cumin, coriander and tomato. The roti came in handy to mop up the moreish sauce.
Rojan josh was, as it should be, highly aromatic – cloves, bay, cardamom and cinnamon notes evident – the meat was well cooked, meltingly soft and a good example of the style.
The final curry, of prawns, showcased the skill of the kitchen – crunchy, firm, sweet prawn flesh, in a tangy tomato based sauce, with a lovely blend of spices.
I have a weakness for Indian rice puddings so I was happy to eat my way through this delightful dish – sweet, creamy, with cardamom flavours throughout it; a very good way to end our meal.
So my recollections of thali from days gone by at Maya Masala were confirmed – they do turn out a superior version and at the prices charged represent pretty good value. Maya Masala has been around a while – starting out in different premises – but they have produced, to my mind at least, consistent, sound, reliable Indian food – nothing out of the ordinary, but any lover of Indian food should not be disappointed by a visit.