Review: Moti Mahal, Covent Garden
Style points: 4/5
I love nothing better than a good high-end Indian restaurant, which meant I was very excited about visiting Moti Mahal, a restaurant which has been top of my list for a while!
The original Moti Mahal was founded in Delhi more than four decades ago in 1959. With Delhi-born Anirudh Arora at the helm since the start, Moti Mahal focuses on the cuisine inspired by the cities on the Grand Trunk Road in India. This means the cuisine is not limited to one region in India, instead it celebrates dishes enjoyed by Emperors and Royalty, as well as recipes that have live as well as recipes that have lived in family kitchens for generations.
The restaurant has a beautifully crisp modern and stylish dining room featuring an exhibition tandoor kitchen which provides guests with an insight into the kitchen and especially the watch fascinating street-style tandoori chefs at work. Downstairs there is a semi-private dining room including a second bar.
Tandoor in the kitchen
Would I Want Seconds?
My meal at Moti Mahal was even more delicious and decadent than I could have imagined. There were many dishes on the menu that I knew I’d love and couldn’t wait to try. The restaurant manager Antonio Betzu also kindly and expertly recommending a couple of divine dishes to add to our order to make our meal into a decadent feast.
To start with I ordered my favourite dish which is chaat. I tried the bhalla papdi chaat which were delicious crisp fried pastry and lentil dumplings with creamy yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney, deriving from Old Delhi on the Grand Trunk Road. Our second starter was kararra kekda, crisp fried soft shell crab flavoured with curry leaf and smoked onion seeds, spicy prawn pickle. This was luscious dish which we devoured almost instantly!
For our main courses we tried a few different dishes and choose with knowledge guidance for the staff. We started with murghi nazakat from the Punjab which was a trio of chicken tikka, prepared with mint and basil, poppy seed and kashmiri chillies, cracked pepper and coriander root and served to us traditionally straight from a tandoor. The method with which the chicken was cooked meant that it was moist and seeped in flavour. This was the most succulent and tender chicken I’ve had in a long time! We also tried the barra peshwari from Peshawar, composed of lamb chops with caraway seed and kashmiri chillies, mooli raita and avocado chutney.
Soft shell crab
Trio of chicken tikka
From the curries section we had murgh makhani from Delhi, which was butter chicken tikka simmered in a creamy tomato sauce and dahiwala dhaniya gosht from Jaipur which was lamb curry cooked with yoghurt and coriander. Both dishes were delicious and beautifully made and presented and held delicate glimpses of the spices which were used in their creation.
To go with our rice we ordered the infamous dal makhani, black lentils slow cooked overnight on charcoal. These lentils have been described by many on social media as the best daal in London, and I couldn’t wait to try it! The hype was absolutely justified as the daal had a deep creamy flavour which I have never tasted in similar dishes before.
After much discussion with the staff about which desserts to go for we tried the kulfi falooda, lavender maple kulfi, indian with falooda noodles, as well as chocolate strawberry ganache, dark chocolate walnut cake, strawberry ganache, clotted cream ice-cream, pistachio crisp.
Both desserts were divine without being overly-sweet, but our favourite dessert had to be the aam ka meetha, fresh indian mango with cardamom rice pudding, mango compote. The alphanso mangos we the best part of all the dessert as they were perfectly ripe with the ideal level of sweetness to them, this was balanced well with the rice pudding to create a beautiful dessert to end the meal!
Lamb curry and rice
Infamous daal makhani
Could I Afford Seconds?
At Moti Mahal is it definitely worth ordering seconds, as every dish we tried tasted great and it was obvious that effort was put into its creation. This may put you slightly out of pocket, as Moti Mahal is a high end restaurant, but the food served is top quality and worth the price.
Our starters cost an average of £9 each and the dishes were a good portion size. Our main courses varied from £18 to £23 for the heavier meat dishes. Again the dishes arrived in large portioned and were designed to be shared with the table. Dessert was between £6 - £8 and were also easy to share.
Fresh Indian mango
Chocolate strawberry ganache
I had an amazing time during my meal at Moti Mahal and this was due to a variety of reasons. The staff were genuinely friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about each of the dishes and they offered their helpful recommendations whenever we asked. This was lovely to experience as it legitimately felt like the staff enjoyed their jobs and wanted the guests to have a good experience. The restaurant also have a relaxed by luxurious feel to it, making it an ideal destination for a nice meal without having to feel stifled by the surroundings.
For these reasons I would recommend Moti Mahal to all those wanting to try authentic and delicious Indian cuisines from a variety of regions in India.
Address: 45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, UK
Closest Tube Station: Covent Garden