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  1. The dining room of Raja
    Photograph: Nikki To
  2. Crab at Raja
    Photograph: Nikki To
  3. The semi outside dining area at Raja
    Photograph: Nikki To

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

To experience the beauty of Indian cuisine is to witness a harmonious dance – and it's a dance that Raja has so gracefully mastered

The first time I travelled to India I ate palak paneer while drinking Kingfishers on Goa’s moon-shaped beaches, explored the pulsating, hazy streets of Kolkata, and drank sweet tea looking out over the snow-cloaked Himalayas in Darjeeling. I was captivated by the soul of this South Asian country, the depth of flavour in the food, the spices, and the heat. We find exactly this when we visit Raja, Potts Point’s new Indian restaurant by the team behind Ezra.

Raja’s dining room is so beautiful, it looks like it could have been plucked from the pages of Architectural Digest. NY-based designer Rosie Rainbow is behind the vibrant fit-out, which features a kaleidoscope of colours – think warm mustards, dusty pinks, royal blues and rich golds – as well as shapes and patterns.

Every room has its own vibe, from the all-pink Barbie-esque private dining room to the chic bar area complete with tiger chairs and lush palms. The main dining area is punctuated with vintage fringed lights and grand wooden archways. Though, it’s the alfresco space we’re drawn to most. With hanging ferns, cane chairs and ceiling fans that resemble tropical plants, it looks like an oasis in the city.

We begin with cocktails. A Jaipur Gin Fizz is fruit forward and a little tart thanks to rhubarb and lime, with a touch of sweetness and spice from pepperberry. The Cucumber Gimlet with dill and mint is chilled, refreshing, and gets us ready for the main act.

Owners Nick and Kirk Mathews-Bowden have brought in Ahana Dutt to lead the kitchen. Born and raised in Kolkata, Dutt has most recently – and impressively – been working at Lennox Hastie’s award-winning steakhouse, Firedoor.

A bowl of masala clams hit the table – the same ones eaten throughout Maharashtra and Goa. We pick them up using our hands, the shells holding the tender molluscs coated in sweet and nutty coconut, dried red chilli, aromatic coriander and black peppercorns. The sauce is luscious and textural, and we can picture ourselves with a bowl of these bad boys on the sand under a palm tree come summer.

Next we try vegetable croquettes made from beetroot, carrot and peanuts, which are eaten in Kolkata. Round and fried until crisp and dark bronze, the snack has an earthy flavour to it, though could do with a pinch of salt. It’s served with tangy and sweet pickled daikon, and a punchy mustard and desert lime kasundi, made from fermented mustard seeds. It’s interesting, though perhaps one swing too many for us.

Goat riblets are painted with a fire-engine red habanero sauce. We pick up the bone and take a bite. Expertly cooked, the fatty and juicy meat falls away easily, and the chilli stops us in our tracks. We add a squeeze of lime and pickled onions, and it's a hit. Watch out, pork.

We notice the plates in front of us – some blue with intricate designs and some the colour of chai – and our waiter tells us with a smile they are all hand-made in India. Nice. We’d love some for our home, please.

A bowl holding a generous serving of laal maas – a lamb curry originating from Rajasthan – is plated in front of us looking glorious, and we can smell the fragrant gravy from here. Cooked low and slow for five hours, the meat is tender; and the curry is layered, smokey, and spiced with cardamom, cumin and cloves. Fluffy, flawless rice helps mop up the sauce.

On the side, a creamy raita with cucumber, and a tangy sour mango and lime pickle – which tastes exactly like the ones we've had in Delhi – are the dream wing accompaniments. In fact, it’s so good we order another.

Charred sugarloaf cabbage comes with a soft dal spiked with sweet raisins and coriander layered in between its leaves. Served on a salty and creamy macadamia sauce, the cabbage is giving main character energy, and deservedly so.

We finish with some petit fours: a lime palette cleanser that tastes like an icy pole; a milk chocolate and strawberry gum bite; and a fennel seed and rose petal candy, that’s crunchy and fun.

With 28 states and currently the most people in the world, India is an incredibly diverse country – and so too is the cuisine. Though the regions share similarities – including a depth of flavour as deep as the Indian Ocean’s floor; and a perfect balance of salt, sour, sweet and spice. It’s food with guts and soul and heart. To experience the beauty of Indian cuisine is to witness a harmonious dance, and it's a dance we believe Raja has so gracefully mastered.


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Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


1 Kellett St
Potts Point
Opening hours:
Tue-Sun 5.30pm-late; Fri-Sun noon-3pm
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