Some Like It Hot

Maharaja curries a taste for the spices of India

Legumes can also be ground into flour to make unique unleavened breads. When you arrive at Maharaja, your server will bring you a basket of papads, paper-thin, nutty-tasting wafers usually made with lentil and wheat flour. A chatty American teenager who was bussing tables, having misunderstood the word or perhaps just anglicizing it for our convenience, assured us that the tortillalike disks are called "poppers." The restaurant serves them with mint chutney (the English spelling of the Indian word chatni, a tangy relish or sauce that accompanies foods with neutral flavor) and tamarind chutney, a puckery-sweet, chestnut-colored sauce made from the dried pulp of pods from the exotic tamarind tree, sometimes called the Indian date.

Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.
Jennifer Silverberg
Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.
Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.
Jennifer Silverberg
Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.
Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.
Jennifer Silverberg
Maharaja's lack of a distinctive décor matters little when the kitchen turns out food so intriguing.

Details

Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m. daily.
Call 636-386-4634.

Selected menu items:
Naan $1.25
Vegetable samosas $2.50
Nargese aloo $7.95
Mutter paneer $8.95
Dal makhani $7.95
Chicken curry $8.95
Hariali tikka $9.95
Tandoori prawns $13.95

14424 Manchester Rd. (West County)

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Maharaja's space is an incongruous backdrop for such vibrant food. The building's façade looks as though it might house a quilt shop or a bed-and-breakfast. The serviceable dining room, with its forest-green carpet and fruit-bowl-patterned wallpaper border, could have been lifted out of a suburban split-level. The lack of a distinctive décor matters little, though, when the kitchen turns out food this intriguing, the spices so fragrant you can catch a whiff of them from two stoplights away -- after all, you can't say that about fish and chips.

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