On Tuesday evening, my family and I headed out to dinner at Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar which opened in February at The Hub in Milton Keynes. MK is starting to up its game a little bit – in comparison to Birmingham the independent restaurant game is not strong at all but over the past six months, there has been a few cropping up here and there. Maaya aim to create a fresh and modern taste of India, inspired from traditional family cooking and the flavours from the street bazaars of India. It’s one of the only Indian restaurants around that area of Milton Keynes at the moment, which might explain why it was incredibly busy there for a Tuesday night. After spending the past two and a half years living in the Balti capital, I was pretty eager to give Maaya a go.
To kick off the meal we ordered drinks and poppadoms. Mum ordered a Cobra Beer and I had a Raspberry Cooler Mocktail. These and the cocktails are on 2-4-1 most evenings so be sure to check those out. The mocktail was a smoothie of raspberry puree, fresh mint, lemon and lychee juice which was really fresh. We started with some Poppadoms served with a variety of pickles. These were quite steep at £1 per poppadom, but can you really have an Indian without poppadoms?
The menu itself is extensive: from simple sides and street snacks to a whole range of curries. We started off with one of the street snacks, the Delhi paapri chaat which was a cold dish with crispy delicate pieces of pastry topped with chickpeas and potatoes, accompanied by sweet yoghurt and tamarind. This was delicious and a great dish to share with the table. It had a lovely variety of textures and a real kick to it. We also tried the Chingri chaap, one of the appetizers that I was very excited about. However, it was a little disappointing and probably not worth the £7 price tag! There were only two breadcrumb coated prawns which were well cooked and the marinade of ginger, garlic and spices worked beautifully but it was just over too quickly. It would have been nice to have a few more, especially as it barely made a dent in my appetite.
I was so happy to see Thalis on the menu (which we experienced at Raja Monkey in Brum). Thalis are a complete meal and a great way to experience a traditional way of eating Indian, so I decided to give the South Indian Special Thali a go. This came with several smaller dishes to make up the meal: Lamb chettinad, garlic chilli chicken, sambhar, lemon rice, butter naan, raitha salad. The lamb chettinad was incredibly hot, (perhaps I was being optimistic with my spice tolerance!) as was the garlic chilli chicken, but that was a gentler heat that didn’t catch the back of your throat. Both meats were tender and moist. The sambhar was like a sweet, nutty sauce with vegetables which was really delicious. The lemon rice was soft and sharp, complimenting the curries, though I’m not sure I’d go for it again as a matter of preference. Although I really enjoyed my Thali, I think I’m more of a one curry gal – I was a little overwhelmed by everything as the dish was quite big but Thalis are a great way to go if you’re undecided on what to eat.
My Mum went for a Dum Biryani which is a pretty groovy dish! It is a chicken or lamb biryani (rice and meat) sealed with a pastry lid. It is then served with masala raita or curry sauce. There was a little mess up with this order as the waiter didn’t ask Mum what sauce she wanted with it, so she was given masala raita which she doesn’t like. They did rectify it but it did take a while to arrive. That aside, she enjoyed the dish and it’s mix of textures. It is necessary to have the curry sauce as the rice can be quite dry on its own.
Just when we thought we didn’t have any room, we ordered some desserts to share. We wanted to try one of the authentic Indian desserts but the waiter advised it would take too long which was quite disappointing. (By this point it was getting quite late!) So we decided on the Fresh Mango Brule which made up for our previous disappointment! The top was crispy with caramelised sugar and the brule itself was incredibly smooth. At the bottom where several chunks of mango which gave it a fruity twist. We also opted for the Trio of Sorbets which was a fairly generous portion of a scoop of raspberry, lemon and mango-passion fruit sorbet. If you’ve had a spicy curry, then I’d advise a sorbet to finish to cleanse the palette, these went down such a treat! Both desserts were beautifully presented.
Service is very important to me when I go out to dinner and can impact if I would go again and unfortunately, the service at Maaya wasn’t great. We were left waiting a long time on arrival for the menus to come over and to even order drinks which left us feeling a bit frustrated. The food also took quite a while to arrive and we didn’t actually eat our mains until about 8:30pm when we had sat down just before 7pm. They were very busy, so some waiting time was understandable but they definitely didn’t have enough waiters on to serve the food, take orders and even the to take the dirty plates away.
The food at Maaya was lovely with the mains and desserts being great value for money. Some of the starters were a bit expensive for what they were but usually when I go out for a curry, I tend to skip the starter and have poppadoms or naan. The real let down was the service, but the food definitely wouldn’t stop me from going there again.
If you’re on the hunt for a good Indian in Central Milton Keynes, Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar is certainly a good place to start. I’d advise booking as it seems to get very busy, even on week nights. If you’re looking for a quieter meal, their lunch menu also looks fab and the restaurant is less likely to be full.
For booking information and menus: www.maayamiltonkeynes.com
Have you tried Maaya Indian Bar and Kitchen?
* Myself and Mum’s three course meal was complimentary for review purposes. This doesn’t affect my opinions or love of Indian food!