Not usually a big fan of Indian food. Yes, as a teenage beer engine I crashed into them after the pub for a quick rogan josh with my mates, but for a serious sit down meal Indian has never really been first choice, especially when dining with the flame. However, when faced with sorting a gastronomic excursion for long time drinking, grub loving, MUFC fan and recent sexagenarian a decent Indian was a natural choice.
As ever, when deciding where to go, twitter came to the rescue. Local food bloggers along with lauded tv chef Nigel Slater, have all posted glowing tributes to the work of Mughli, a restaurant of some thirty one years standing, situated in Manchester’s celebrated curry mile. Our heady gang warmed up with a few scoops in the city before the ten minute taxi trek to Rusholme, home to the source of our tea. For those who don’t know ‘the curry mile’ is a neon infested thoroughfare containing dozens of restaurants, bars and food emporiums, all specialising in various strands of Indian cuisine. When we arrived I was mesmerised, I was left drooling at some of the Indian grocery stores lining the streets! Four types of aubergine, greens I’ve never seen or heard of, and all this before we stumbled on the oasis that is Mughli.
Thankfully I had booked weeks ago using the very efficient online booking system. A texted reminder an hour before asking to confirm or decline seemed to me a great idea. As we entered we stumbled into another world. The place was rammed. The chatter and clatter of a full restaurant operating at full tilt and on the top of its game. It was a most welcome and heartening sight. The room is perfectly lit and appointed with contemporary, retro tables and chairs. Various elements of shrubbery divided the space at regular intervals.
A well trimmed youngster set us to our table guided by a high tech tablet! Within seconds our jolly and knowledgeable waiter Amjad was circling. He quickly pointed out his favourites from the font friendly, black and white menu and tipped us towards a few pints of the local brew. The brew he claimed, is constructed on the floor below by ‘elves’. We took this story as gospel and ordered up pronto.
As expected the starters rocked up first. The celebrant and I selected from the ‘charcoal pit’ section, whilst the third point of the crew opted from the ‘street food’ list. All three starters were a triumph. My fleet of tender, mildly spiced, medium cooked lamb chops had all drooling. The ‘tamarind masala fish’ (chunks of fresh haddock dusted in a spicy batter with lime) was a close second to the star of the starts the King Prawns. The size of a baby’s fist these had been flashed in the pit of charcoal before wafting through a mist of chillied spice. I managed to swap a whole chop for a mere morsel. It was worth it.
For mains I went for a Mughli speciality ‘Seafood and Fish Dhum Biryani’. This arrived in a good sized dish encased in a thin, battered crust. I broke through to reveal the intoxicating mix of basmati rice, pomegranate seeds and lightly spiced prawns, mussels and fish. It was a little dry at first but the neat little pans of biryani sauce and raita housed on a batten at the side soon sorted that.
The chums picked from the curry section. The choices included ‘arguably Birmingham’s finest export’ the Balti (their words not mine!), however a butter chicken and a fiery ‘chennai’ curry was picked along with rice, roti and a chilli paneer. It was all sublime and heartily confirmed by the slew of empty pots, pans and plates that were left strewn across the table.
All it needed to finish was a slug of traditional ‘ras malai’ and all would be well and the report could be ticked and signed off with a jaunty flourish, but lo, Amjad could not deliver. Despite his many offers of chocolate brownies! the ‘ras malai’ was no where to be seen. We japed for several minutes before the intrepid ‘Bradfordonian’ came up with three lollipops of Mango Kulfi, which to be fair really hit the spot. The Mughli team had pulled it out of the bag right at the death. A fine end to a smashing feed.
All I can say is that this has definitely rekindled my desire for Indian food. It was a revelation and met all expectations. For three of us it came to just over £90, for me a bargain. The service, the staff, the food, the beer, the atmosphere was all top notch. Well done Mughli, we’ll be back.