Thursday, September 17, 2009

original maurya palace - edmonton, ab

Original Maurya Palace Restaurant
Home of East Indian Buffets & Curries
9266 34th Ave

Ah the classic standby. My Indian home away from home! Pulling up tonight and realizing there was new signage above the door had me worried. When did this happen? Was it sold? Would it still be the same?

I've been going to Maurya Palace for years. I don't remember my first visit exactly, but I know it was with my brother. While he filled up on vegetarian delights, I succumbed to my flourishing desire for Indian cuisine on goat curry and naan. This relationship, with both the cuisine and Maruya Palace, matured quickly. Now-a-days I enjoy cooking Indian cuisine and discovering the wide offerings from North, South, East and West.

After stepping in, I quickly realized the interior reminded me of Origin India on Whyte. What used to be your basic, nonchalant, mom n' pop Indian restaurant had transformed. The walls now a rich deep red, are occupied by pseudo luxurious booths. While shiny half-globed serving vessels now covered the food instead of generic hotel pans. Big changes I must say.

After deciding on a a pot of green tea, it was time to walk the buffet. A la carte is nice, but like Chinese, I find Indian buffets, especially during solo/small group dinning, your best option. After visiting quite a few Indian buffets, I feel Maurya offers bang for the buck. Two basic areas, a small cold station is wrapped by a u-shaped hot selection. The cold area included 8 or so options, from corn to potato, and chick peas to broccili. You also find the various chutneys and raita located here.

The hot selection starts with rice (saffron or basmati) and is followed (this is by memory) by turnips, kidney beans, chickpeas, small potato like meatballs??, tandoori chicken, chili chicken, curry goat, butter chicken, naan and a paneer (cheese) dish. Hopefully I didn't forget more than one or two items. There is also a dessert section where you find the delicious sugar gulab jamun, a white cold version of gulab?? a custard, pistachio rice pudding, jello and fresh fruit.

I sampled a little it of everything over a few plates. The standouts for me; goat curry, turnips, and cold corn salad. The biggest disappointment came with the kidney beans. Having never witnessed these on the buffet here, I found them totally blah. Of course you can't go wrong with butter chicken, but as I search for more intensity with flavours and spices I find butter chicken melting into the generic category. Maybe, I'm jaded, but I think butter chicken in general has become a watered down version of what it used to be. I finished the evening sipping my green tea, while sampling the dessert offerings.

The buffet was good. Warm, filling, and friendly. At 15 dollars a head the price has jumped over the years, but then again, renovations don't come cheap these days. I started to wonder if part of the change was due to the increasing competition near by, or by the success of it's classier younger sibling, Origin India. The experience felt a little like coming home after having a TV show redecorate your house. At first it feels so strange, but soon those familiar smells wafting from the buffet bring you back. Still number one for me in Millwoods.


H.Peter said...

Indian cuisine. Even more varied than chinese. I have yet to tackle it at home. Not sure if I ever will, or just stick to the safety of those grand buffets.

Dave said...

It's just not the same without those awesome Duran Duran plates they used to have.

Chris said...

I agree H.Peter. A fair amount to tackle, the ingredients alone can be daunting. Then you have the 35 steps to follow..

Dave. I couldn't believe how much changed. The walls are one thing, but the plates and silverware..full Maurya makeover.

Sarah said...

Chris & Peter - a good friend of mine and I decided to tackle Indian for a dinner party, in Athabasca, AB! A town of 2,000 people and only 2 grocery stores to choose from. I've found it isn't difficult to locate all the ingredients (and there are many of them used in Indian cuisine) in our beautiful city. Start small! Samosas are easy, and a lot of fun (and I'm sure you could do a GF version) - and Chris, you could spice up your OWN butter chicken as much as your little heart desires. Give it a whirl!

Jane said...

Looks like a great buffet... If you're looking for something other than a generic butter chicken, I recommend Rasoi on 50th. It's definitely a step up from your average watered down versions. I find it incredibly well seasoned and the layers of flavor make it a stand out. Just don't make the same mistake as I did and ask for the "hot" version, unless you like it super-spicy (I couldn't even eat more than a bite of it!).

otoro said...

Agreed, also my favorite Indian in town. I'm impressed you managed to grab some pics - as it is SO dark in there. I was there recently post-reno - like the changes, but those new plates weigh a TON.

Chris said...

Thanks for the suggestion again Jane! I used to drive by Rasoi all the time (was an old coffee shop no?).

Haha, it was soooo dark in there otoro. I didn't have my mini tripod, but tried a few longer exposures with the elbow-tripod! And yes, those plates weigh a ton. I swear I couldn't feel the difference with food on or off.

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