An Ode to Prawn Puri
The Maharani in Soho, London, Slickens Up
You live there and I live here
Come to me, Prawn Puri, my dear,
I miss your texture, yearn for your taste,
Please come to America, quick! Posthaste.
I have written about my relationship with Soho Indian restaurant, the Maharani, before. But on my latest visit to London I was surprised to find they'd had a face lift. Everything is sleeker without being achingly overdesigned. There are nice wooden floors and plain walls with tasteful pictures. The tables are still all squooshed together and it has lost none of its atmosphere.
My heart almost skipped a beat when I first walked in. What had they done with the kitchy, animated waterfall picture? The Maharani just wouldn't be the same without it. Phew, it's still there, at the very back, overlooking the bar.
I can't eat a British curry, without nibbling on a few papadams first. Most restaurants serve plain papadams, which I prefer. In the US, spiced papadams which are more the norm, just don't seem to have the same light, puffy texture as these do. At the Maharani you get a generous serving of condiments to garnish your papadams. Diced onion and tomato with cucumber and a few coriander[cilantro] leaves, lime pickle (hot!), cooling yoghurt and mint and mango chutney.
The Motor Paneer, a perennial favourite from my days as a vegetarian was already gone by the time this picture was snapped. In addition to smartening their surrounds, the Maharani have spruced up their menu too. Clear layout, large format, simple but smart design and colour keys denoting whether a curry is mild, medium or hot make the choices more clearly defined. The Maharani has always had room for some South Indian favourites like aloo chat on their menu and now I am noticing some slightly eclectic, more original items too. I couldn't resist trying, for example, the Baghare Baignan dish of baby aubergines cooked in tamarind and thick peanut gravy. It was not what I would call a light dish, but once in a while I am happy to indulge in such rich treats. The boys, kevin and Fred, both of them predictable to a tee, settled for the Chicken Tikka Masala. This was the most tomato-ey version I have ever encountered. Very mild, and really quite like the tomato soup from which this dish was reputedly invented. Not my thing - but they both seemed happy.
Thank you for being there for us, every time we need to stop by.
Sending love over to you from San Francisco. Please send some Prawn Puris in return.
PS Thanks to my oldest London friends, Sally and Kevin for coming out for curry with myself and Fred. Thanks also to everyone else we met for a drink earlier, especially to Richard who snuck us into Double Negative for a beer.
The Maharani | 77 Berwick Street | London W1F 8TH | 0207 437 8568
This was also an entry for Dine & Dish # 5 : Asian Persuasion
|Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 we dropped into Bobby Flay's for dinner.|
Food | Indian | Curry | London | Soho | Review | Dine & Dish | Tried & Tested An Ode to Prawn Puri