"A culinary journey along the Grand Trunk Road"
Moti Mahal can be found just off Drury Lane in Covent Garden. The small frontage might lead you to expect a cramped interior, but in fact the tables are large and well spaced and the seating very comfortable. There is a large well-stocked bar and a variety of cocktails are available- but we resisted as it was lunchtime. The kitchen is separated from the upstairs dining area by a glass screen, so you have the drama of watching the chefs at work but not the noise and smells.
The menu is extensive and is based on the food of Northern India, following a trail from Peshawar in the North-West to Calcutta in the East. Our waiter was happy to explain the ethos of the restaurant and discuss the menu with us.
We decided to share our starters and chose soft shell crab with spicy prawn chutney and a vegetarian dish sprinkled with pomegranate seeds - typical street food with the Moti Mahal twist. To accompany this, we ordered the Season Spacial of Vintage cheddar and cumin naan baked in the tandoor with white ‘Alba’ truffles. The delicate flavour of the truffle was followed by the punchy, rich flavour of the cheddar cheese - great for sharing as it is very rich.
Before our starters were served we had an amuse bouche of parsnip and lentil soup, with a warming chilli kick.
For main, we ordered Murgi Nazakat Chicken, a Punjabi trio of chicken dish, each piece of chicken a different vibrant colour, flavoured with mint and basil, poppyseed and kashmiri chillis and cracked pepper and coriander root - genuinely the most succulent chicken I have ever tried (I will be ordering this again). We also tried the pheasant stir fry - a dish with a very strong earthy flavour which was nice in this cold weather, dhal which tasted almost meaty it was so creamy and delicious, an aubergine dish, game naan and steamed rice - wow we ordered a lot!!
To finish, rather than a dessert, we decided on having an Indian Masala Chai, sweetened with whole spices including green and black cardamom, black pepper, ginger and clove and served in a traditional terracotta pot.
Fantastic service, indulgent food, stellar location.