Raja (Indian) – Cambridge
Situated in the heart of Cambridge not too far from the city’s prestigious university, Raja appears, from the outside at least, to be your typical Indian curry house.
And while the venue has a homely feel to it, this 40-cover eatery enticed us into visiting thanks to the clever use of stock images across its social media account.
While there’s a number of awards from a few years back proudly framed and displayed, which includes the English Curry Awards 2014’s best takeaway, the most intriguing feature is the history of the restaurant’s founder, Aminur “Raja” Rahman.
The mango lassis were awesome, being thick and luscious, with the natural sweetness of the mangos themselves standing these in good stead.
This is the first time we’d tried these fruity flavoured soft drinks by Fentimans; and we were left pleasantly surprised.
Our favourite had to have been the Sparkling Raspberry, with its unmistakable berry flavour. As for the lemonade, then this was intensely sour resulting in a difference of opinion, with one Lion unable to bear it. Thankfully, the Gently Sparkling Elderflower was indeed less fizzy and mercifully mild in comparison to its citrusy counterpart.
In this case, it was a masala-infused spinach filling, and plenty of that too, that served as a substitute to the traditional egg.
What made this a tasty little starter, and thus a great start to the review, was its golden breadcrumb exterior.
Not only was it crispy-cum-crunchy, but contained a mildly spicy mixture, which went really well with the accompanying sweet mint sauce.
Wrapped in a soft and crumbly pancake were beautifully cooked prawns enveloped in plenty of spicy sauce that packed quite some heat.
Thankfully, we had the aforementioned mint chutney as a sufficient counter.
A pretty good wrap considering, though one which would have been even better had the puree been slightly crispier.
Yup; those quintessential marinated pieces of tandoor chicken leg quarters, bright as red, and presented, quite uniquely it has to be said, on a wooden board.
However, these were overcharred somewhat, greasy and oily, with not much meat to speak of by way of taste. And at £4.90, with some salad and a dip, most definitely over priced!
The lamb curry was overcooked and overpowering, thanks to the harsh spicy masala, which effectively needed the rice and the sweet mint sauce to help temper things.
The base had a tomato-like taste to it, making this quite unmemorable.
While it could have been thicker to help coat and perhaps mask the oiliness of the onion bhaji, the sweet mint sauce was pretty good, considering the circumstances.
Although the aubergine pakora was certainly better then its bhaji counterpart, only by a tad mind you, it was again oily in texture.
How do papadums come out with burnt edges, was the conundrum that faced us when coming face to face with this solitary excuse for textural contrast.
Perfectly cooked rice; fluffy and straight-grained. Sadly, the most well executed part of this Raja Dinner!
While this could have been slightly thicker in consistency, what we enjoyed about this was the sweet edge this lime chutney had.
Not only was the masala base almost wet in consistency, perhaps owing to the vegetables used therein, but intensely strong too.
In fact, the spices were so powerful that one Lion simply couldn’t take it after a couple of spoonfuls.
The other Lion only managed this with the entire contents of the yoghurt raita this came with.
Had this been done better, then we might have appreciated the unique combination of the mushrooms, beans and aubergines.
With a mildly spicy base, the overcooked salmon in this Mum’s Fish Curry was entirely lost in translation.
And the addition of spinich with salmon is another combination that will probably end up dividing the crowd.
The keema-based Raja naan wasn’t very well executed, with the mince meat filling spread across sparingly, the edges of the naan thick, and the entire thing not being very crispy at all.
The peshwari naan, on the other hand, was okay, although we’ve had better. What this needed was more of the coconut. And similar to the above, the perimeter was thick and almost dough-like in texture, making it inedible, with the rest being almost entirely non-crispy.
Despite the taste of this pistachio Kulfi being decent enough, with the scattered almonds giving some texture, the kulfi itself was evidently straight out the freezer before being plonked on a plate.
Nevertheless, the intriguing thing with Raja’s version was that these were stuffed with a pistachio.
And though said stuffing didn’t really add much, given its overall sweetness, these balls had good flavour to them, with the pistachio coming through nicely.
In addition, they were properly saturated and floating in that familiar sweet syrup we all enjoy.
- YES/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- CHILD SEATING
- FREE WI-FI
And while a number of the dishes could have been better executed, there were a few here that had been tweaked enough to be described as modern Indian, such as the Raja Pakora, which was their take on the classic Scotch egg, or the King Prawn Puree.
With a traditional homely feel to the place, we'd recommend opting for mains other than the ones we had.
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60 King St, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB1 1LN.
T: +44 (0)1223 301501 | W: rajarestaurant.com
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 17:00-23:00