The aroma of deliciousness hit me as soon as I entered the restaurant. I quickly sat down before a shiny thali (with vatis arranged in a perfect semi circle) in anticipation of the delicious food I was about to to be served. Maharaja Bhog, a famous Mumbai thali eatery recently opened it's doors to Punekars. Having heard superb reviews about the place, in spite of it being a vegetarian restaurant, I happily trotted off for lunch with one of my dearest friends (Priyadarshini/Priyus to me).
They brought out a brass basin and water kettle to wash hands at the begining of the meal. They then brought out another tray with a cow shaped money bank, a handful of coins and some tulsi leaves. They requested me to put a coin from the tray into the cow money box (Gau daan) and eat a tulsi leaf. I respectfully picked a coin and put it into the money box. As for the tulsi leaf, I did not eat the whole leaf; I tore a bit of the leaf and swallowed it with water. I did not see any reason to be disrespectful of the tradition they so kindly chose share with us.
This unlimited thali began with papads, gujjias, white dhokla, dal pakwan, three types of chutneys, puris and phulkas. For the mains we were 3 served sabzis (vegetables) dudhi, batata and bhindi. All three were absolutely yum! A paneer gravy (fab) and muthiya preparation were also a part of the thali. I loved the sweet Gujarati dal and kadi. Instead of rice, I opted for the ghee drizzled khichdi (an atma trupt sigh!)
Each and every thing served was superb. The Gulab Kheer was also delish but the best part about this meal was the unlimited Aam Ras. Please don't ask me how many vatis i polished off. 🙊🙈 I'm not telling. Once the servers realize what dish you like best they keep coming back to serve you and they serve you generously and with so much heart.
After this meal I was to return home, pick mum up and head out to finish a load of pending chores. Wanna guess what I did after the meal? I called mum and requested her to switch on the air conditioner. I dragged (I was so stuffed that in no universe would I call it walking) my feet home, changed into comfy PJs and crashed for four straight hours. Do not ever plan anything after you visit Maharaja Bhog because the only thing you'll wanna do after this meal is peacefully doze off for hours. Don't say I didn't warn you. 😉😁
The only let down of the luncheon experience was, they bring the same basin and water kettle to wash hands after the meal but... sans soap or lime (a la finger bowl). After having had ghee laden phulkas and puris, leaving the restaurant with semi- greasy hands was a big turn off. Except for this boo-boo, they've got everything (food & service) set up perfectly! I cannot wait to go back.... before the mango season ends. 😉 That Aam ras beckons.
A definite 5 on 5 on all counts (except for the after meal hand wash issue).
Cost of thali on weekdays, inclusive of GST taxes: INR 499.
Cost of thali on public holidays/weekends, inclusive of GST taxes: INR 525.
Address: Level 2, Pavillion Mall, Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
Tel: 020 66421185 / 020 66421186