Those who love Indian food, love it with a passion, even if they only know the internationally recognised favourites like biryani and tikka.
Those who don’t are always put off by the assumed overdose of spices and excessive mix of sauces that they associate with Indian cuisine.
Raoucha & Kandahar, located in Mohandiseen, offers a solution: it allows diners to choose from both Indian and, in Egypt at least, the more-popular Lebanese cuisine, at the same table.
There is perhaps a bit of a bias towards Indian food evident on the menu, but that may be because the diversity of Indian food is so wide, and much greater than all the food of the wider Levant (Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) put together.
And the fact of the matter is that Raoucha & Kandaharis good with dishes from both cuisines – if one goes by the standards of the restaurants of international hotel chains, not necessarily by the quality of restaurants that make a specialty of either cuisine.
Another good thing about the Raoucha & Kandahar dining experience is the fact that, typically of Indian and Lebanese tables, the restaurant does offer wide choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Of course, that is as expected, given that Indian food is well-known for its use of rice, lentils and vegetables, and Lebanese food likewise for its use of fresh vegetables, fruit and olive oil.
A selection of mixed starters for a meal for five included naan, the traditional Indian flatbread bread, with and without garlic; paratha, another flatbread which was served with mint; aloo jeera, which is basically boiled potatoes and a little cumin; and kanahari daal, the traditional Indian black lentil simmered with tomatoes and cream.
The Lebanese table was represented by spinach fatayer and fried stuffed kebbah.
The dose of garlic and spices in the starters seemed to have been carefully calibrated to avoid shocking the Egyptian taste, which might not immediately digest the normal level of spices in Indian dishes.
The plan naan and the parantha found their way onto the plates of two diners who were experiencing their first adventure with Indian food, and were judged to be successful.
The main course was essentially all about chicken – a popular element of both Indian and Lebanese cuisines.
Shish tawook, of course, was ordered, and from India, murgh tikka, or boneless cubes of chicken marinated with spices; tandoori murgh, or spring chicken marinated with spices and cooked in the tandoor oven, at least according to the original recipe; and murgh malai makhni, boneless chicken cooked in tomato and a creamy butter sauce.
Along with these came chawal, plain basmati rice, and kashmiri pulao, fluffy fried saffron rice with dried fruits and nuts.
The rices and the murgh malai makhni left a positive impression on those who had no previous experience with Indian food, with one noting: “So they do have some items that are similar to our Egyptian food.”
The general remark however was that the chicken was in almost all cases tender enough, apart from the shish tawook, which was a bit too dry.
The meal concluded with tea and no dessert. Who could have managed Umm Ali or crème caramel after this feast? Nobody.
Raoucha & Kandahar, located on Gameat El-Dowal El-Arabiya Street, is known for its inexpensive prices, as well as for its funny red-carpet entrance on the pavement, which leads to an elevator to take guests up to the restaurant.
The service is pleasant and the waiters are happy to be consulted at leisure.
A dinner for two will set you back anywhere from LE500 to double or triple the amount, depending on your palate.