The summer holidays lets me take a break from the day job and spend a bit of time with the family, try some food and write the odd piece. This was the case this week when Red (the wife), Fidget (the eldest) and I popped into Liverpool to do some shopping, followed by the promise of lunch. So after several hours of that bloke thing of standing awkwardly in clothing aisles, trying to not look at the ladies unmentionable sections, wondering why there are no seats anywhere, I even had a look at some clothes, only to wonder why everything is slim fit? I, like many, fit into the ‘well built’ category and, as the country goes through an obesity epidemic, who exactly buys the skinny fit clothes? Where is chunky monkey fit? Dough Boy fit? Rather than the honed ripples of a muscular cheese grater, I end up looking like a piping bag that has been over-squeezed!
Anyway, as if to re-inforce my inability to fit into ‘slim fit’, we headed early lunchtime to Bold Street and Mowgli Street Food. For those who haven’t been before, this is the restaurant of author, restaurateur and TV presenter, Nisha Katona, who gave up her legal career in 2014 to open Mowgli in Bold Street, followed by similar restaurants in Manchester and another in Liverpool. Her mission is to bring authentic Indian street food to the masses. In Mowgli, this is exactly what she has done, creating an exciting and vibrant venue to share her love of Indian street food.
So upon our arrival, we were quickly seated (please note bookings are not usually taken at the Bold Street venue) at a benched table. After a short wait and perusal of the menu , drinks and food ordered. We decided to share all: yoghurt chat bombs, treacle tamarind fries, Mowgli sticky wings, the office worker’s tiffin and some puri.
I have had the joy of visiting Mowgli before and had told Fidget about the wonders of the yoghurt chat bombs. and that crucial advice – eat them whole, don’t try to take a bite or else you will be wearing them and yoghurt leaves a very unseemly stain! These really are the bomb – a taste explosion in your mouth that conjures up a wild variety of authentic Indian flavours which my limited vocabulary cannot begin to describe – you need to try them. Fidget was a bit reluctant as he said he doesn’t like yoghurt but, after I pointed out they were not a bloody Mueller Corner, he detonated one, and didn’t regret it. So nice we actually ordered another set.
Next to arrive (and the food does come as and when it is ready) was the Mowgli sticky wings. Again these are a delicious and sumptuously sweet set of wings in a chickpea batter with a rich molasses sauce. Fidget polished most of these off, but I was able to purloin a couple which were excellent, my only criticism was that we were only given 2 wipes for our hands and there were 3 of us – and as Oscar Wilde once wrote: nobody wants to be seconds on a hand wipe.
Next was the treacle tamarind fries. Now we all need to stop and take a moment here. In my many years of trying various restaurants and foods, there are very few things that are exceptional or stand out, but the sauce these fries are in, is one of those experiences. There are times in our lives when we witness something that is so momentous that we remember where we were: JFK’s assassination (well actually I wasn’t born then), Lady Di’s Paris accident (immortalised in song by David Brent) – on a stag do in Blackpool, when Take That split up – on holiday with Red and so on. Well trying these for the first time is one of those moments, though I realise my analogy doesn’t really work as your location will obviously be Mowgli, but I am sure you get my point.
The spiced treacle tamarind sauce is a hedonistic, sybaritic, cloyingly indulgent and moreishly addictive delight that I would happily drink for eternity. It is the heroin of sauce – one taste and you will be lost forever! The fries are good and provide a decent vehicle to consume the sauce with but I would eat anything that was covered in this sauce, and I mean anything. Have I been clear here, that I like it?
Finally, came the Office Worker’s Tiffin. This is described on the menu as “4 tiers of meat, veg & carb jeopardy chosen by chef as it is in India.” In other words the chef picks 3 dishes and a rice for you, and it is a surprise. Now we are the sort of family that like to take risks: sneaking our own sweets into the Odeon, taking tags off clothes before trying them on and even passing on a ‘non-transferrable’ ticket for parking to others. So for us this was great. Upon arrival we had: Mowgli house keema, green ginger and rhubarb dahl and the mother butter chicken.
The keema was spicy but not too hot, with succulent ground keema lamb slow cooked and steeped in cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg flavours. As an avid carnivore, the green ginger and rhubarb dahl I gave less attention to but was still a deliciously sweet and tangy lentil dish which balanced well against the other dishes. Finally the mother butter chicken is as near as you will get to the anglicised tikka masala but an another level: tandoori chicken simmered in a rich, sweet and spiced tomato and yoghurt sauce. Individually they were very good dishes but together provided a perfect combination to give the diner a variety and breadth of genuine Indian cuisine, that you might not otherwise be brave enough to try.
So overall, a wonderful experience from the very talented and fabulous Nisha Katona, with some serious highlights and the best sauce I have ever tried anywhere. Ever. Though after all that very sweet sauce, getting into my skinny jeans will be a real trial!
Type: High end restaurant
- Service: 9/10 very good throughout – maybe 1 hand wipe per person!
- Atmosphere: 9/10 despite being at early lunch there was a good buzz of foodies tucking in.
- Food: 10/10 Is this over the top? Not at all – excellent.
- Value for money: 8.5/10 at £50 for the 3 of us, not the cheapest lunch but you get what you pay for and I did get extra yoghurt bombs.
- Overall: 9.5 A must for anyone who loves Indian food, or simply well cooked and carefully balanced flavours.
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: Mowgli Street Food