LondOntheInside went along to try out Indian institute Moti Mahal. The restaurant which opened in 2005 has a great reputation in India where it has served hunger mouths for 40 years. Unlike other Indian restaurants it doesn’t westernise the recipes, the food it serves in London is the same as in India.
We visited early on a Thursday evening and the restaurant was fairly quiet. However by 7pm it was full, regardless of the snow outside. The menu features recipes from villages along the Grand Trunk Road – a 2500km, 16th-century artery of power connecting Kolkata with Varanasi, Delhi and Amritsar before curling north into Pakistan.
We went for the Bharwan Mircha, grilled jumbo peppers stuffed with seasonal vegetables and served with two chutneys and Paturee, pan fried crab cakes with tiger prawns wrapped in a banana leaf. Whilst we waited a chopping board of salad arrived with knifes and a peeler. Oh s**t, we thought, we’re going to have to get to work preparing salads in return for our food. But it turns out this is how they serve salad in India. It means people get to spend more time with their families. So we got to work on our salad of two tomatoes, a red onion, radishes, cucumber, lettuce leaves and mixed spices. We enjoyed this way of eating salad and will be serving it at our dinner parties in the future.
The crab cakes arrived first, spicy, juicy, and wrapped in a banana leaf which meant you couldn’t tell they had been fried. Three in total and each one contain a fair amount of tiger prawns, no skimping here! The stuffed peppers were another tasty dish, fresh and flavored to perfection. For mains we opted FOR the Jhing, grilled butter flied jumbo prawns with mustard and lemon, the Rogani macchi, monkfish simmered in tamarind, ripe tomato and ginger sauce served with Pulao rice, Tokri and black bean lentils.
The prawns arrived first still on the BBQ, they were huge! A5 size, so big we had to ask where they’d got them from (Thailand in case you’re wondering). The monkfish was next up, a good amount of juicy fish served in a sauce which had layers of flavours. The Tokri, three tandori baked breads were freshly made and served straight from the oven. The onion bread was our favourite. In fact we didn’t have one grubble about any of the food. It was all fresh, non greasy, and seasoned and spiced with care.
We did want to try an Indian desert but we were too stuffed so finished off with one of the Chai teas instead. Would we go back? Well we certainly would, especially if someone else was paying. Moti Mahal isn’t cheap but it is worth it. Our meal with a decent bottle of wine would have been about £130. Not bad considering, a great place to take a date if you’re trying to impress or for a special celebration.
Moti Mahal, 45 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B