Dearborn’s only Indian restaurant fills untapped niche

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In a city where the food offerings could fill an atlas as well as a restaurant guide, there was one thing missing among the Middle Eastern, Asian, European and American restaurants.

Tariq Tahir knew it. That’s why earlier this year he opened Maharaja Cuisine of India, the city’s only Indian restaurant on Michigan Avenue. The restaurant offers an array of traditional Indian cuisine in a couple of different settings to appeal to different customer bases throughout the day.

“Things have been very good,” Tahir said. “The people who have come in say they are very happy to see us here. They are used to having to drive a long way to get good Indian food.”

The restaurant isn’t Tahir’s first foray into the familiar fare. He and family members used to own an Indian restaurant at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. When that restaurant closed, he and other family members decided to open in a new location, and the spot in west Dearborn was it.

“We wanted to give the area some more diversity,” Tahir said.

In essence, the restaurant is open twice each day. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, Maharaja caters to an often-busy lunch crowd by offering a variety of items in a buffet style. The buffet includes a number of items, salad and dessert.

The restaurant then closes for two hours while the staff gears up for dinner, which is provided with full wait service off the menu. That menu, Tahir said, includes a number of very traditional appetizers, soups, seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetarian dishes.

The menu includes one of the most well-known dishes, mulligatawny soup, a lentil and chicken soup with Indian spices and herbs.

Two of the most popular dishes, according to Tahir, are butter chicken and lamb saag. Butter chicken includes chicken cooked in a tandoor, a round clay bowl used in traditional cooking, while lamb saag is made with spinach, spices and fragrant herbs.

Of the vegetarian dishes, Tahir said the most popular is navrattan korma, a mixed-vegetable dish with sauce. Continued…

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Traditional desserts include semolina pudding, which is saffron flavored, while the most popular beverage includes a mango lassi, a sweet drink made with milk and mango pulp.

Tahir said the bulk of his customers have had Indian food before and have sought out the restaurant, but some have never tried the cuisine before. Those customers often ask for recommendations, and Tahir said he’s happy to explain the restaurant and offer suggestions based on what people like.

One of those more experienced fans of Indian food dining at the restaurant Wednesday afternoon was Harry Lalusis, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident and pilot for Delta Airlines who was on a layover and found the restaurant by doing a Google search to fulfill a craving he had for Indian food.

“I got a car from the airport and came over,” Lalusis said. “It’s very good.”

And, if there’s one misconception about Indian food, it’s that it’s all very spicy. While some dishes can be on the tangy side, every item on the menu can be ordered mild, medium or hot.

Maharaja Cuisine of India is at 22443 Michigan Ave., just east of Military. Buffet hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Full-service hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 1-313-769-5902.

  • 1
  • 2
  • See Full Story

In a city where the food offerings could fill an atlas as well as a restaurant guide, there was one thing missing among the Middle Eastern, Asian, European and American restaurants.

Tariq Tahir knew it. That’s why earlier this year he opened Maharaja Cuisine of India, the city’s only Indian restaurant on Michigan Avenue. The restaurant offers an array of traditional Indian cuisine in a couple of different settings to appeal to different customer bases throughout the day.

“Things have been very good,” Tahir said. “The people who have come in say they are very happy to see us here. They are used to having to drive a long way to get good Indian food.”

The restaurant isn’t Tahir’s first foray into the familiar fare. He and family members used to own an Indian restaurant at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. When that restaurant closed, he and other family members decided to open in a new location, and the spot in west Dearborn was it.

“We wanted to give the area some more diversity,” Tahir said.

In essence, the restaurant is open twice each day. From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, Maharaja caters to an often-busy lunch crowd by offering a variety of items in a buffet style. The buffet includes a number of items, salad and dessert.

The restaurant then closes for two hours while the staff gears up for dinner, which is provided with full wait service off the menu. That menu, Tahir said, includes a number of very traditional appetizers, soups, seafood, chicken, lamb and vegetarian dishes.

The menu includes one of the most well-known dishes, mulligatawny soup, a lentil and chicken soup with Indian spices and herbs.

Two of the most popular dishes, according to Tahir, are butter chicken and lamb saag. Butter chicken includes chicken cooked in a tandoor, a round clay bowl used in traditional cooking, while lamb saag is made with spinach, spices and fragrant herbs.

Of the vegetarian dishes, Tahir said the most popular is navrattan korma, a mixed-vegetable dish with sauce.

Traditional desserts include semolina pudding, which is saffron flavored, while the most popular beverage includes a mango lassi, a sweet drink made with milk and mango pulp.

Tahir said the bulk of his customers have had Indian food before and have sought out the restaurant, but some have never tried the cuisine before. Those customers often ask for recommendations, and Tahir said he’s happy to explain the restaurant and offer suggestions based on what people like.

One of those more experienced fans of Indian food dining at the restaurant Wednesday afternoon was Harry Lalusis, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident and pilot for Delta Airlines who was on a layover and found the restaurant by doing a Google search to fulfill a craving he had for Indian food.

“I got a car from the airport and came over,” Lalusis said. “It’s very good.”

And, if there’s one misconception about Indian food, it’s that it’s all very spicy. While some dishes can be on the tangy side, every item on the menu can be ordered mild, medium or hot.

Maharaja Cuisine of India is at 22443 Michigan Ave., just east of Military. Buffet hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Full-service hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 1-313-769-5902.

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