60 King Street, Cambridge, CB1 1LN
Sai Rahman is on a culinary mission; to recreate the tantalising flavours of his father’s childhood in Bangladesh in every perfectly spiced bite he serves. Think aromatic Goan fish curries, melt-in-the-mouth Afghani lamb, or succulent seabass in a buttery beanseed sauce. Indian street food is reimagined in morish snacks such as Masala Fries, tossed in turmeric and cumin; Purple Cauliflower Pakora; and the Pao Bun, Sai’s quirky take on a chip butty – a potato scallop, drizzled in turmeric and mint chutney, in a brioche-style bun.
The final destination on this sublime journey along the spice trail is Raja Restaurant on King Street, which reopened in August with a Bombay café feel following a revamp by Cambridge interior design specialists Loci.
Sai and father Aminur ‘Raja’ Rahman launched Raja in 2012, and within two years won Best Overall UK Takeaway at the English Curry Awards. Given the family’s proud history of serving outstanding Indian cuisine it is hardly surprising. Sai’s grandad came to England as a rice merchant, later moving to Scotland, where he opened his first restaurant Ali’s in 1979. By 2000, with Aminur by his side, he owned 20 restaurants throughout Scotland, up to the Isle of Skye.
Though Sai grew up in Inverness (moving to Cambridge in his teens), he learnt all about the tasty regional dishes of his dad’s Bangladeshi homeland, so was keen to emulate them at Raja. Among these are scrumptious fish curries and Black Dahl, a richer, earthier version of the traditional red lentil favourite. There are also hearty Indian breakfast options, freshly baked breads, including gluten-free, and authentic Chai tea, served in traditional clay cups.
Having taken the reins at Raja following his father’s retirement, Sai looks set to build on his family’s success and create a real buzz around East Indian cuisine!