Ten Years of Food from the Grand Trunk Road at Moti Mahal:
Originally founded in Delhi in 1959, Moti Mahal made it over to London just ten years ago. At the time, London was on the cusp of becoming the thriving restaurant centre that it is today. And, Moti Mahal helped to spearhead good quality, authentic Indian cooking that remained true to its regional origins. The Moti Mahal way was to focus on the cuisine of the Grand Trunk Road and they’ve never gone off track. A ten year anniversary is a great excuse to celebrate. Moti Mahal intend doing so all year, starting this month with an exhibition of Indian art from Stellar Foundation; one work by MF Husain, one by Paresh Maity and one by Jayasri Burman. To complement the exhibition, guest chef Irfan Khan created a tribute menu for M F Husain, which I sadly missed by a couple of days. But, throughout the year, there will be more special events and guest chefs so, for anyone interested in Indian Cuisine, it’s well worth checking the website.
Since we’d managed to miss Irfan Khan, we decided that trying the tasting menu would be a good way to experience the best of Moti Mahal.
After a watermelon palate cleanser, as we were trying both the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian tasting menus we were treated to a selection of four starters. I have a sneaking suspicion that both of us would have liked two of the Sagar Rattan, a beautifully cooked scallop with a tamarind dressing served on a spoon of crushed lime and cumin peas. It was, however, tender enough to easily be cut in half…
This, together with the Dahl ki Tikki from the vegetarian tasting menu were my favourite starters.
Our starters and next course were paired with a glass of Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial champagne, always a good way to start a meal.
From the grill we were offered a succulent lamb chop, with caraway seeds and chilli and a tandoori chicken supreme marinated with mint and basil.
Each carefully spiced and beautifully moist, I’d be happy to order more from the grill when I return to Moti Mahal. It’s easy for meat to dry out on the grill, particularly leaner cuts of chicken, but here everything was beautifully tender.
The vegetarian options were a malai saunfia paneer (tandoor glazed home made fennel paneer), crumbly and aromatic and tandoori khumb – oyster and chitake mushrooms with a coating of mint, basil, cheese and pepper.
It’s obvious that vegetarians do not suffer!
All of this was washed down with Cantina Tramin Pino Bianco, a light, apply white wine from the German/Italian borders.
We were treated to some ‘off menu’ specials with the final curries, in the form of a portion of butter chicken and some dhal makhani. It was really just a little more food than we needed but, since Moti Mahal is credited with bringing butter chicken to the UK it had to be done.
Alongside that, a delicious piquant Chemaan Chettinard – stir fried prawn with curry leaf, coconut and madras chilli.
And, for the vegetarian option an unusual but very successful dish of Gucchi Qorma (morels in a pumpkin curry).
These curries were served with a with a Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon, Tandem Ars Nova 2007, which was delicious and robust enough to support the rich sauces.
A welcome break was provided through a cup of chai with a selection of spices
Then a selection of Kulfi lollipops
And a delicious dish of mango served with cardamom rice pudding and mango compote.
At which point we were both ready to stagger home.
The Moti Mahal tasting menu is £65 per person or £50 per person for the vegetarian option. Matching wines add a further £28 to the price.
And the calendar for the ten year anniversary celebrations isn’t finalised yet, but will include a series of events including the following.
August – Gin pairings
September– Fratelli Indian Wines pairings
October– Sake matchings
November – Shahi Diwali 10th Celebration
December– Charity donation event and Champagne Celebrations
45 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5AA
020 7240 9329