Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Feb 13th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Making of Maharaja

diningNew Indian dining portal shows promise | By Josie Cowden

India is a fascinating country. It’s an overload of sights, sounds and smells that pervade the senses. I am very glad I experienced it, and that includes the pleasure of eating incredible dishes packed with exotic spices of all kinds. In England, where I grew up, Indian food is now so popular that chicken tikka masala has taken over from roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as the Brits’ most favorite dish.

I was happy to see a new Indian restaurant called Maharaja had opened its doors on Dec. 4 last year, taking the place of another rather tired and worn Indian restaurant called Royal Taj that existed in the same spot for years.

A total revamp of the interior by the new owner Kemal Mann was just what was needed, and the restaurant is now much more appealing with fresh coats of paint and some interesting décor. Hindu gods look over us as we dine, including Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity—both material and spiritual. The restroom has been redone, too, and is now sparkling clean. A little table next to the sink on which to put one’s purse is a needed addition, though.

My husband, who loves Indian food—we always eat copious amounts of it when we’re in England—was my dining companion at Maharaja, and both of us were excited about trying the food. Choosing to sit in a comfortable booth, I noted that the seating/table-height ratio was spot on.

Wine and beer selections are not printed on the menu, but our server reeled off choices and we selected two different Indian beers ($4 each). Our appetizers of two tasty Vegetable Samosas ($3.95) arrived and some unexciting Onion Kulcha (naan bread) for $2.95, but we had almost finished them before we reminded our server about the beer. Apologizing, he came back with one large bottle to share and said he would charge us for one small beer. Customer satisfaction is important, and this little problem was handled well.

My entrée of Chicken Tikka Masala—Tandoori chicken breast cooked in a mildly spiced sauce ($11.95)—was good. Tender pieces of chicken had absorbed the flavor of the sauce, and, served over basmati rice, is a filling dish. My husband ordered Rogan Josh, a classic lamb curry blend of tomatoes and spices – and one of his favorites. This staple of Kashmiri cuisine was tasty with its blend of spices—cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon —but we both thought it a tad salty. I’m sure that the chef, Bhajan Singh, is still working out the kinks.

Rice is extra ($2.95) and one portion might not be quite enough for two. We had some from our second portion to add to our leftover entrees to enjoy the next day. An afterthought sticker on the menu says “add dinner for $3.95 includes naan, rice, salad and raita” which is a much better deal than buying all these separately.

Good news for vegetarians and vegans is that a number of dishes are offered, and, from their menu descriptions, all sound delicious.

Tandoori specials offer lamb, chicken and prawn, and under seafood entrees, all five dishes on the menu contain prawns. Beef is not offered at all, of course, the cow being a sacred being in Indian culture.

From the four dessert choices, I enjoyed Kheer ($3.50), a creamy sort of rice pudding flavored with cardamom and saffron. Although it said “garnished with pistachios” on the menu, after prodding around, I could find only almonds.

Indian food is often toned down for the Western palate, and I think that Maharaja could boost up the flavor quotient and heat content a bit, or at least provide menu options with varying degrees of spiciness, but it is early days. Right now, it’s good to have a new Indian restaurant to welcome us.


Maharaja, 270 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-2666. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster