Mahesh's Kitchen in Sugar Land is a prime example of why eating Indian food isn't just a job requirement, but something I enjoy doing as well.
At Mahesh’s, flavors mesh and weave in fragrant collisions of spicy, bitter and sweet. I was nearly overwhelmed by the intensity and variety of the vegetarian and meat and seafood dishes alike.
The appetizers I tried were all across the spectrum, from the sweet and mild — the Avocado Bhel, a rice-based snack with tamarind and pomegranate ($12) to the hotter Pani Puri ($13) with green peas, potato, mint, and a sweet and spicy chutney.
Two other standouts were the Bhindi Kurkuri ($13) with a vibrant mango powder, fresh okra, onion and tomato making for an interesting spin on a Southern fare with Indian flair.
The Chinese Noodle Chat ($12) is difficult to eat solo and thus is best shared with a companion or a group, as the crunchy texture of the fried noodles can be messy and is a rather large portion.
A rack of lamb ($15) is served with spicy hummus and asparagus, and is served in small enough pieces that you can almost eat the delectable meat entirely by hand.
The Murgh Makhani, or butter chicken with fresh tomato, free range chicken, butter, garam masala and cashew nuts ($20) was good, but certainly overshadowed in my view by much more interesting selections from the vegetarian menu.
Along those lines, the Pomfret ($17), a bone-in freshwater fish, is expertly-seasoned with garam masala, ginger chili, and a hot “gunpowder” masala spice blend and then fried for a fall-off-the-bone feel.
Catching a second wind after a heavy dinner, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the Mo’dak ($10) a traditional dumpling made with jaggery, an unrefined cane sugar, fresh coconut and rice flour.
Co-owner Shubhangi Musale told me it is one of the favorite dishes of Lord Ganesha and is served during the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and offered during prayers. It is customary to serve Mo’dak with ghee, or clarified butter, which added warmth and depth to the coconut within the dumpling.
Gulab Jamun ($10) is a popular donut-hole shaped pastry that is similar to fried dough, though it is made with semolina flour and hollow, making it the perfect topper if you’re looking for a sweet, light and airy dessert to wrap up your meal.
Address: 16019 City Walk, Sugar Land
Dining Options: Dine-in, takeout, delivery
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Entree prices: $10-$26
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Pani Puri
Star of the show: Mo’dak
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars