For a delicious new Indian cuisine option, head to Begum in New Maadi. The restaurant, opened by the owners of Nawab in Zamalek, is sparsely decorated and oddly laid out but the food, in its reasonably sized portions, is both flavorful and diverse. Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s reflective doors, which make it difficult to tell whether Begum is open.
Dinner began with the slightly spicy chicken lentil muligatwany soup (LE24). The lentils were blended to a smooth consistency with generous portions of chicken — a perfect cold weather starter. Begum’s vegetable samosas (two for LE12) were very large and packed with veggies. A serving of poppadom (LE10) comes with delicious mint- and tomato-based dips.
The sailing was not quite as smooth when it came to the main course. The butter chicken masala (LE42) was a little strong on the tomato and not enough on the butter. The sauce was also a bit spicy, unusual for this dish, which is typically reserved for those who cannot stomach the heat of Indian spices. Another standard that missed the mark was the dahl makhani (LE32), which had a slightly grainy consistency for a lentil dish that is supposed to be rich and buttery.
The palak paneer (LE32) was average and its thick spinach sauce did not stand out as a specialty of the restaurant.
But not all the main dishes were a disappointment; Begum’s bhuna gosht (LE65), a rich lamb dish with brown sauce and the mild chicken shahi korma (LE43) with cashews and yoghurt were table favorites. The shahi korma sauce practically got licked off the plate. Almost all the main dishes (except the dahl) are full of the delicious but heavily clarified butter, ghee, that is a staple of indian cuisine.
The naan (LE9) is fluffy, fresh and delicious — one bread per order means you’ll definitely need more than one.
In general, Begum’s food is better than its ambiance. Unfortunately, the bathroom was on the dirty side and a few things got forgotten from the order. But the food compensates for what the place lacks in atmosphere, though you may also want to think about ordering delivery.
Begum; Address: 34 Road 276, New Maadi; Tel: 010-1310-0185, 010-0001-6706; Hours: 12 pm –11 pm