Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 20th
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

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

 

Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.

 

Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?