Arguably one of the best and oldest Indian restaurants in Sydney, Maya da Dhaba is a favourite among locals and tourists alike, bringing people of all backgrounds together with delicious food.
Restaurants such as Maya da Dhaba help create a home away from home for members of the Indian diaspora, and digital remittance service WorldRemit is also working to service the same community to ensure they can stay connected to loved ones abroad.
Owner Mr Ajay Raj first arrived in Australia from New Delhi in 1992, and although his brother was already living in Sydney, the move was far from easy.
“I had never been to Australia before coming to study, and when I first arrived, I just wanted to go back to India,” he said.
“But, once you are used to the quality of life here, you can’t go back.”
Despite making an effort to visit India once every two or three years, Mr Raj maintains an important connection with family and friends in between those trips.
“I send money because it’s important to help people. I help my family and it’s worth it, and they are obviously very thankful for that,” Mr Raj said.
“We do donate to some charities as well, but we mainly help people we know.”
According to the 2016 national census, there were over 700,000 people of Indian ancestry living across Australia. Of this, there are over 238,000 based in New South Wales alone, an approximate 41% increase since the 2011 census.
As a result of this growth, there has also been a rise in money remittances from the global community, and according to the world bank, around US$69 billion was sent to India last year.
With same day transfers to all bank accounts in India, WorldRemit helps the diaspora feel closer to loved ones by providing a low-cost, secure and hassle-free alternative to traditional money transfer services.
Since buying Maya da Dhaba in 2003 to venture out of IT, Mr Raj has been treating his visitors to authentic North Indian dishes, bringing a taste of home to the busy culinary precinct on Crown St, Surry Hills.
“Indian food is very delicious to eat because it’s spicy, it’s rich and has medicinal value,” Mr Raj explained.
“Maya da Dhaba was first opened in December 1999, and to be able to stay open for this long, you need to be doing something right, so we’ve done well for 20 years to maintain that.”
Many of his staff left behind some of their closest in moving to Australia, and Event Manager Minuti said Mr Raj ensures his staff always feel part of a family, particularly during special occasions such as birthdays or Diwali.
“A lot of my family is back in India, and I phone them often and I try go back twice a year, which is so important because I don’t want to forget them, and I don’t want them to forget me,” she said.
“Ajay, especially, takes a lot of initiative in buying cake, drinks and food, and we cook ourselves and we always try to do something different for everyone.”
Following restaurant renovations last year, Maya da Dhaba also updated their menu, keeping famed dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala or the Goan Fish Curry, while adding popular street food options such as Papdi Chaat.
“We really sell high quality, delicious and sumptuous food, and that’s the reason people love our restaurant,” Minuti said.
With another restaurant in Fiji and a function centre in Dural, Mr Raj and Maya da Dhaba will continue to bring people together with unforgettable Indian flavours. Check out the Maya da Dhaba website HERE and follow their Facebook page HERE for more information.
Address: 431 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills 2010
Phone: 02 8299 3785
To bring you even closer to your family and friends living in the India, send money home with WorldRemit. Click the banner below to check out the rates: