London - Great Indian supper at Moti Mahal, Covent Garden
Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearl) is a true Indian dining institution. I'd just been to the original outlet in New Delhi's Daryaganj district (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893124), started by the founder, Kundan Lal Gujral, back in 1947 after coming to Delhi as a refugee from Peshawar during the Great Partition of India and Pakistan. Decided to seek out its London outpost at the West End, just to see what it's like.
Must admit that the London branch was more more swish than the wonky, old original in Delhi. Crisp, starched table-cloths, a well-stocked bar, modern interior decor - very nice.
- Bhalla Papdi Chaat - crispy fried pastry, lentil dumplings, yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney. This was the best chaat dish I'd ever tasted in London! Deliciously sweet, sour and salty all at the same time. I liked the contrast between the crisp pastry and the soft, moist grainy lentil dumplings. Powdered mango added a dull, "meaty" accent to the dish.
- Kumro Phool Bhaja - crisp-fried courgette flower stuffed with spiced whiting, curry leaf and smoked onion seeds: slightly greasy, but the delicate crusty exterior shatters at the slightest cut, revealing moist, beautifully-spiced minced whiting inside. I truly enjoyed this dish.
- Murgh Makhani - chicken tikka smothered in creamy tomato sauce. The version here tasted very different from the Delhi version - the two dishes even *looked* different. But I think both the original Delhi version and the London version were as good as the other. The chicken in the Delhi one has a smokier, tandoor-baked scent, and the gravy was oilier and waaaay spicier than the British version - which tasted of canned tomato and evaporated milk. Tastewise, I'd rate both as equals.
- Paneer Akhrot ka Qorma - panner cheese and walnuts in a peppery-tomato sauce. Paneer is one of my fave food items in the whole wide world, so no complaints here. The crunch from the walnuts was very welcome, and contrasted beautifully with the soft paneer.
- Steamed basmati rice - loose-grained as it should be. This place simply can do no wrong!
Great food, lovely ambience, incredibly wonderful service - love this restaurant - the first Indian restaurant in London which I'd gladly return to again.
45 Great Queen St
London WC2B 5AA
Tel: +44 20 7240 9329
We've had some varying views on Moti Mahal, so I welcome your take on the meal. I'll go for the paneer itself. We love paneer so much that we make our own. :-)I urge others to do the same and never buy the junk sold in supermarkets.. what a difference and the homemade is very simple to do.
You don't really want things to remain constant, June. If you did, you'd only eat at Pizza Express, etc. Differing experiences are what makes it fun to talk about a place.
The bhaja dish sounds a stunner, klyeoh. So unusual to see whiting used in any sort of dish, even though it's plentiful in our waters.