[Rusholme, Manchester] Mughli
It’s not often that we come and eat on the “Curry Mile” these days. When every neighbourhood has its bog standard “any protein with any sauce” curry house, there’s no point in driving for more of exactly the same. But, we usually enjoy the trip when we do. We like the experience – the brashness, the bright lights – and, yes, we quite like Blackpool as well. And, when we do make the trip these days, we always comment about how the area is changing. Every new opening seems to be a Middle Eastern restaurant or shisha cafe – it won’t be long before we’ll be calling it the “Kebab Kilometre” and the Curry Mile will fade into history.
Like everyone else, we have our own favourite places to eat on Wilmslow Road and rarely look at the others. So, it was with some surprise that I spotted Mughli being mentioned on a local blog. And it mentioned that the menu was now “different”. Well, so it is. There’s no “chicken tikka rogan josh”, or any of the other things that a restaurant might want to put with its bog standard sauce mix. Instead, a proper menu of individual dishes.
They claim the starters are based on Lahori street food and that many of the mains are food from truckers caffs or railway dining cars. Now, whether these dishes are “authentic” or “traditional”, I neither know nor care. I do care if they taste good – and they do. Really good.
Half a dozen crisp puri came stuffed with chickpea and potato with a drizzle of yoghurt and a sprinkle of chopped red onion and pomegranate seeds. That was followed with a vegetable biryani. A well made biryani that had a hum of spice but was soft and mild on the palate. It was attractively served with the cooking dish sealed with bread and steamed. Alongside, a small bowl of poky vegetable sauce and another of raita.
The other starter was chicken pataka, claimed to be sold trackside at Lahore railway station. Small chunks of chicken covered in spicy breadcrumbs in a sort of Punjab meets Kentucky sort of way. There was a little minty sweetish sauce for dipping. The railway theme continued into the main course with a dish called, simply, “railway curry”, replicating a dish alleged to have been served in railways dining cars and station buffets in the times of the Raj. It was an absolute belter of a dish. Long cooked lamb, a goodly amount of thick and slightly sweet sauce perked up with tamarind and chilli. And there was good tandoori roti to go with it.
This was pretty much faultless food, served by efficient staff and, at that sort of price level (under forty quid including drinks), you really don’t tick those boxes that often.
Nice. Traditionally, railway stations in India/South Asia sub-continent are veritable oases for good snacks and finger foods - Mumbai's magnificent Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) is the location of some of the best "vada pao" stalls in the city. Many Indian train passengers oftentimes buy food from these food stalls to bring on-board for their long rail journeys.
I'd not come across chicken Pataka before though - probably a British-Indian thing?