A great Indian takeaway is one you’ll use for the rest of your, or its, life, and finding one can be tricky.

Carlisle doesn’t have as many to choose from compared to other cities, but there is at least one which satisfies – The Maharaj.

Located on Botchergate, past Cumbria House, The Maharaj is from the outside a seemingly unassuming little takeaway that you could easily miss walking by, particularly when its near other takeaways with flashier, more extravagant exteriors - it doesn't look like, from the outside, somewhere that will provide a top-tier Indian meal.

But as they’re located outside of the busier part of the street and likely rely on deliveries more than walk-ins, it can’t seem to matter, and customers will judge them where it matters – the food.

Indian food can be the most expensive option for takeaway, so a decent set meal option is crucial.

The Maharaj has a lucrative set meal for one, which gets you a papadam with dips, a starter, a curry main, pilau rice, and plain naan, with options to pay extra for upgrades in the rice and bread, or to lamb tikka.

It will easily feed two people or one person over two days.

Their tandoori options are standard, with shashlik options, and come with salad and plain naan, and costs £2 extra for a portion of any sauce.

The order:

·       Set meal for one (one papadam with dips; chicken pakora; lamb tikka korma; pilau rice; plain naan) - £16.95

·       Tandoori chicken main (with pathia sauce) - £11.95

·       Just Eat ‘service charge’ - £0.50

o   Total: £28.90

The korma was found to be flavoursome – sweet, creamy, full of coconut and mild spices (not spicy in the slightest)

Kormas can be hit or miss depending on where you go, it’s also a misunderstood dish – it’s not bland, or it’s not meant to be, it’s a mild dish that should be as vibrant as the most fiery phall or zingy madras.

News and Star: Lamb tikka korma, with pilau rice and chicken pakoras. There were more chicken pakoras, rice, and curry received than are in this photo, this is the meal as dished up.Lamb tikka korma, with pilau rice and chicken pakoras. There were more chicken pakoras, rice, and curry received than are in this photo, this is the meal as dished up. (Image: Ollie Rawlinson)

The lamb tikka was a luxury upgrade but well worth it, and was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Something we often look for in lamb tikka is firmness but moistness rather than typical English roast lamb which is, in my opinion, either slimy or dry – at both times unappetising.

This lamb tikka was ideally prepared and delicately spiced, so it gets full marks for the whole thing.

Chicken pakoras were nice and spicy, sometimes they’re not but be aware that these ones do have a noticeable kick, but which can be subdued by the supplied mint yoghurt.

The tandoori chicken came as large legs, generously seasoned, and cooked well in the titular oven.

News and Star: Tandoori chicken main, on salad, with plain naanTandoori chicken main, on salad, with plain naan (Image: Ollie Rawlinson)

The salad was simplistic to a fault, though, simply shredded lettuce and two circles of cucumber, with two lemon wedges which I squeezed over the chicken, but no one really goes to an Indian takeaway for the salad so don’t read too much into that.

It did come with a naan though which supplied the carbs.

Nanns had that perfect slight char and served as stupendous scoopers of sauce.

In my experience, Indian takeaways have always been the most volatile in quality, business to business.

Where it can take a large effort to make a Chinese takeaway make bad food, and even bigger for a kebab house, it doesn’t take much for an Indian takeaway to fall afoul, or rather it could be said that a lot more hard work goes into making everything as high quality as possible, likely because most food in these establishments is almost always cooked fresh and from scratch.

All things considered, there was absolutely nothing wrong with The Maharaj, it was one of the first satisfying Indian meals I’ve had in a while since moving up here away from the industrial northwest bubble which has many more places to pick from.

It's a good reminder that looks can be deceiving, never to judge a book by its cover, as while it appeared unexciting from the outside, the food was very high quality.

I can safely say that this place got everything right, for me at least, and will firmly become my go-to option for Indian food.