In an honest attempt to put Karnataka, Telagana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala on the same menu, Maayaa’s biggest flaw would probably be the fact that it does not quite manage to distinguish between each of the cuisines. The menu in itself is quite expansive, curated by Prakash Majhi, corporate executive chef - Maayaa, featuring nearly 60 dishes from across the five States.
However, over the past few years, regional cuisines have taken off to a great extent in India, and with hyperlocal being the flavour of the season, what Maayaa does not quite manage is to have a distinct identity. The food will definitely appeal to those who are new or visitors to Bengaluru, but to a local, it might come across as being too generic.
On the menu
The Attukal Soup, where lamb trotters simmered overnight and flavoured with Chettinad spices, could very well be the best thing I found on the menu. The salt is right, the flavour intact – delicate and balanced. Take your time with it, it’s not a soup you’ll want to gulp down in a hurry.
Maayaa loves its ghee roast and on this menu, you’ll find combinations that you may not have tried before. For instance, I could not quite come to terms with a mushroom or even a paneer ghee roast. Prawn, yes. Chicken, most certainly. Egg, maybe. But sear fish, paneer and mushroom, I am not sold. They all taste the same, and to a large extent look identical. If you must, try the chicken with neer dosa. The true fun in a ghee roast comes from the first hit of the aroma and then the delightful combination of roasted chillies and ghee, not to mention the garlic (some actually even don’t add ginger or garlic). It’s quite literally Kundapur town’s gift to India. At Maayaa, it’s not bad. It’s not top-notch but it’s edible.
What was quite good was the Kingfish Vepudu (you can also choose prawn or the pomfret), a coastal Andhra specialty. Marinated, semolina-coated and deep fried, it’s definitely something you’d want to try. The spices are measured right, cooked right and the fish is fried exactly right. In fact, one must hand it to the restaurant for their quality of meats and seafood. It’s fresh and they don’t over or under-cook anything. Try the appam and stew next. The Patchakari Stew may have been a bit too runny for me, but that didn’t stop me from finishing it. Something about appams, quite possibly.
There’s quite a bit of focus on Karnataka on the menu, such as the Karwar-style Crab Karavalli Curry. I must admit, I have not quite eaten this particular dish before but if you like your food spicy and love crabs, you’ll like this one. You can eat it with Kerala parotta or steamed rice; I’d go with the rice. While on rice, the mutton biryani here is something you might want to dig your fingers into. Their biryanis can’t be slotted under a particular region, the restaurant devised its own recipe and it does not quite disappoint. It’s rich, the rice is spiced but not overpowering, and the meat is tender. And if it gets too hot, there’s always raita to calm your nerves. The biryani comes with salan as well, and say what you will, it really does help.
The final touch
Laugh all you will but when’s the last time you savoured a good old school falooda? Had I not been overfed; I’d have left no evidence that there was falooda in my glass. Order it, relish it, it will make you smile. In all fairness, the dessert menu is short. There’s the Elaneer Payasam and the regular payasam and gulab jamun (but of course), and ice-cream and kulfi. So, there’s not a lot to choose. The Elaneer Payasam is decent but I’d still say get the falooda.
In a nutshell
What works for Maayaa is its location. Sitting inside the courtyard on the ground level of Prestige Trade Towers, it gets a lot of what we call the ‘office crowd’, and it’s a pretty restaurant. For its size, it can easily accommodate up to 40-odd people, so on a busy day, this place looks packed. I’d like to give the service staff extra credit here. Attentive and quick, they do a fine job shuffling between tables.
PS: Maayaa does not serve alcohol, but we can never refuse a lychee drink or a fresh lime soda, can we?
Maaya, Sublime Courtyard, Prestige Trade Towers, Race Course Road, Bengaluru; 12pm-11pm; INR 1,800 plus taxes (meal for two)