Upscale Indian in an Unlikely Spot: A Look at Harvard Square’s Maharaja

Boston has plenty of excellent Indian street food served in casual spots; elegant Indian restaurants, sadly, are another story. We don’t have a Boston version of Washington’s Rasika or New York’s Tamarind. Perhaps the closest we come is Harvard Square’s new(ish) Maharaja, improbably perched on the second floor of the nondescript Galeria mini-mall on JFK Street, peering squarely into Wagamama below. This is the site of the old Bombay Club, which closed in 2009, and the space has been entirely transformed: Owner Sajal Latka, originally from Punjab, spent thousands festooning the enormous dining room with furniture imported from his homeland: ornate, high-backed chairs; statues; lush burgundy carpeting. We were curious to try the food, which for the most part lives up to the opulent surroundings (and, hovering at about $16 for an entree, the prices aren’t bad, either). On a cool Friday evening, the dining room was about half-full; crowds might be more inclined to venture upstairs now that the restaurant has its liquor license. Order a tamarind margarita — our favorite drink of the night. But first, have a look at our slideshow, ahead.

Owner Sajal Latka, who grew up in Delhi, imported his furniture, rugs, and these ornate plates after an inspirational months-long trip to Rajasthan in western India.
Tamarind, mint, tomato, onion, and chiles (we liked the tamarind chutney best).
Fluffy, not chewy, and freckled with flecks of garlic.
Spicy potato patties cooled with yogurt and tamarind chutney, topped off with plenty of chickpeas and served in a cavernous silver platter. This house appetizer could have been a meal.
Also known as goat curry. This bone-in goat was incredibly tender, not stringy as goat can sometimes be (Latka uses a small farm in southern New Hampshire for his goat dishes). The curry was a bit oily, but Latka says that’s because he goes easy on the cream so often used in more Americanized versions of the dish.
Another house specialty: Spice-rubbed lamb cooked in a tandor and topped with onions, lemon, and bell peppers.
Lentils! A moment for the lentils: These were the best lentils we’ve had in a long, long time. Creamy, smooth, with a twitch of heat. They came alongside our lamb chops, but we’d order ‘em on their own, too.
Upscale Indian in an Unlikely Spot: A Look at Harvard Square’s Maharaja