A few weeks ago a friend extended an invite to a bunch of us for lunch at the recently opened Baner branch of the Maratha Samrat. I had read about the cuisine, and the dishes, served at this restaurant and was very eager to try it. I happily trotted to the other side of town for lunch. #ToHaveGoodFoodWillHappilyTravel
As we entered the restaurant we were very graciously greeted by the owner, Sagar Vishwas Deshmukh. The restaurant serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian Maharashtrian cuisine. If you are vegetarian and are expecting to know about vegetarian food served at this restaurant, please don’t waste your time reading any further. I say this because we were a bunch of hard-core carnivores and eating vegetarian food would amount to sacrilege! (Evil grin!) No, no, I’m kiddin’, Read on!
For drinks most from our gang ordered the coconut-kokum based Sol Kadi while a few of us chose the simple Thums Up. I heard no complaints around the table about the Sol Kadi and, in fact, a few ordered a repeat which led me to believe it was a well flavoured drink.
For starters we ordered Kheema Papad, Surmai Rava Fry, Pomfret Tava Fry, Prawns Masala Fry and Kaala Chickn Sukka (Boneless).
This was the first time I had Kheema Papad. The morsels of delish, savory Kheema atop the crisp Papad were ever so yummy. I loved it! I’d order this one time and time again!
All the starters we ordered were absolutely delicious. I have a major weakness for crustaceans, though, which is why I feel this one dish deserves a special mention. The Prawn Masala Fry was perfect in every way. The one thing I always look out for when eating crustaceans is their freshness and texture. I could find absolutely no fault with it! It was just as I love it; spicy and cooked to that ‘spot on’ texture.
For our mains we ordered Kheema Prawns, Zanzanit Mutton, Chicken Maratha and Kaala Mutton. We also ordered Jowar Bhakris and Chapattis as accompaniments.
The Kheema Prawns was beyond superb! This was a new combination for me as I had never heard of the two being cooked together in a dish. I have to say the chef had managed to pair them really well.
A couple of us at that lunch table happened to be ‘spice crazy’ gals, that is precisely why we opted for the “hottest” dish from the menu. ‘Zanzanit’ in Marathi means ‘beyond spicy’, hence Zanzanit Mutton was a clear choice for us. It was extremely spicy but was cooked in a way wherein the spice (masala) did not overpower the deliciousness. My palate tingled with joy at the ‘searing chilli-hit’ but the others at the table broke into a sweat, felt fuddled with the fieriness and had smoke billowing out of their ears. (Very evil grin!) If you are fond of spicy food then this one is a must have!
The Kaala mutton was also a very well made dish. The only dish that failed to impress was the Chicken Maratha. The dish wasn’t as zesty as the rest and the gravy too did not make me go ‘ummm’. I have to say though, I have a sneaky feeling this dish fell short because we had had so many spicy dishes before we took a bite of the Chicken Maratha. The Bhakris and Chapattis were fresh and served steaming hot.
Our group ended the meal with Paan. I describe Paan as, ‘a bitter betel nut leaf with Supari, Gulkand and more (crazy) stuff within’. I abstained from it as chewing on a raw leaf does not figure on my list of ‘pleasurable things to chew on’. (Do not allow your imagination to go haywire – behave! :D )
I have two complaints with the management of Maratha Samrat. They only have a couple of soft drinks (along with Sol Kadi) on the menu. I do wish they would, at least, introduce the humble, yet refreshing, Fresh Lime Soda. Also, they do not have anything listed for dessert. No ice cream, no Mithai, no dessert of any kind! The food they serve is so darn good but for lack of dessert the meal feels incomplete, more so to people like me who refuse to munch on raw leaves (read:Paan).
The Tandoor section is functional at their Kothrud branch but not yet operational at their new Baner branch. I hope they start it soon because I for one cannot wait to revisit the restaurant again.
A big thank you to Sagar for having taken such excellent care of us and another very BIG thank you to my friend for the luncheon invite!
Address: MontVert Zenith Building, Veritas IT Park, Baner, Pune
Tel: 020 30189288
A few more photographs...