Thursday, December 8, 2011

Maharaja: Feasting Like Royalty

We were the guests of Sajal Latka, co-owner of Maharaja, recently for a luncheon feast of Indian cuisine. The setting is an elegant room floating above Harvard Square with all of the amenities of a perfect dining experience. We tasted some tried-and-true Indian classics and some inventive new dishes and captured these gorgeous food pics.

The long tables so beautifully set really does remind one of what royal feasts must have been like.

We were given the perfect window seat, overlooking Winthrop Park on a crystal clear day.

We arrived early. The lunch buffet was set out and most of the diners were there to take advantage of it.

Although the buffet looked very inviting we would be ordering from the main menu.

We immediately ordered a fruity, fresh, cold and colorful mocktail.

Americans are so used to the bread and butter. These colorful crisps with chutneys and sauces were a refreshing welcome.

The unexpected Amuse Bouche, a creamy soup featuring mustard seed was sweet with just a hint of mustard.

We started with a Samosa of potatoes and green peas with Chicken Pakora.

Scallops are unheard of in India so this dish was a complete surprise and an inventive new take you won't find in other Indian restaurants. The Jeera Scallops feature cumin seed and a creamy saffron sauce.

Meanwhile, below us a group gathers to take the "Hahvahd" tour.

Without asking, a taste is brought out to cleanse the palate between courses. Quality is always in the small details, not what you ask for but what you don't have to ask for.

The Garlic Naan, when perfectly thrown in the tandoori. The mild garlic taste sets the Maharaja apart from others. Too much garlic and it's ruined but not here.

A bowl of rice is not a bowl of rice when it is served like this.

Saag Paneer is always my litmus test for classic Indian cuisine. Look at those perfectly cubed chunks of cheese. I could seriously become a vegetarian. Very nicely done.

Khatta Dhvandar Gosht. Lamb cubes and ground lamb with pomegranate seed in a piquant sauce. Our amazing taste of the day.

What food writers leave in their wake. I should note that the service at Maharaja was impeccable.

Kulfi Faluda. Have you had a dessert this colorful recently? Despite the brilliant orange color these ice cream chunks are actually pistachio flavored and served over a nest of fruit gelee. Light, not too sweet and satisfying. This was the perfect end to a masterful meal.

57 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

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