Monday, 21 December 2009

Marvellous Mooli's

Think of Indian cuisine and your mind doesn’t immediately leap to delicate bread making. If you think of baking at all then the familiar British high street fare of stodgy elephantine naan breads, oily poppadoms or chewy parathas may well be what springs up. These slander-worthy imitations of the delicious creations found on the subcontinent are as far away from the original as processed orange slices are from real cheese.

A visit last week to the newly opened Mooli’s in Soho brought to mind the pleasures that Indian bread in its true form can be. In a small, bright, premises at the north end of Frith Street two devout foodies presented me with perfectly baked, soft Indian flatbreads, known as rotis that taste just as they do in their homeland.

Freshly baked every day on a machine lovingly named Moolita, these rotis are the real thing: almost as thin as a French crepe the dough yields pleasingly as you bite into it, the perfect encasement for the delicacies within.

Behind the counter the concise menu is hung high, brightly listing the five types of Mooli available. Wanting to try everything our stomachs would allow we went for a feast of mini Moolis which arrived on vivid pink and green plastic trays, each with a corresponding chutney, made specifically to compliment its partner.

Asparagus and potato with tamarind chutney was demolished in seconds as we tried to guess the spices which had lent each mouthful such a moreish quality. Next a warm parcel of tangy tender chicken was brought to life by apple and mint, buzzing memorably on your taste buds. The paneer, while interesting to try, didn’t work as well, the mild flavour lost next to powerful tomato chutney and the texture and tepid temperature being slightly obscure for what is in essence cottage cheese.

The pork and beef were firmly back on track though; each mouthful of the soft meat gently releasing the punchy spices soaked up in the long cooking process which the owners are determined to maintain. Spicier than the first moolis we tried, the beef is cooled with raita and coconut while the pork is speckled with pretty pink pomegranate seeds.

As we got talking to Sam and Matthew, the entrepreneurs behind the restaurant, it became clear just how much attention to detail has been fostered onto this project. The two men have an infectious enthusiasm for their products with a story behind everything on the premises – whether it’s the ingredients sourced from far corners of India, recipes handed down from relations and perfected during hours of trial and error or the specialist equipment which has been hauled across the Atlantic.

Listening to them you quickly become caught up in what has been a labour of love to bring the flavours of Mumbai, Delhi or Kerala to our own pavements, for while at the high end of the London restaurant scene the likes of Benares and the Bombay Brasserie turn out world class cuisine, high street and fast food outlets rarely do justice to the Indian kitchen.

Mooli’s with their clean, fresh flavours and enthusiastic approach may well change this though. These parcels even win marks on the health front – there’s a complete absence of frying or oil, everything in the kitchen is baked (even the poppadoms) and nowhere will you find a cloying dollop of mayo.

Given the choice between an unfulfilling salad box and a marvellous Mooli, the decision is obvious. Mooli’s is a very welcome addition to the Soho lunch time scene as their already loyal customers will attest to – one in particular is so taken that he has promised to introduce a new customer every day.

Keep an eye on Twitter to hear about the challenges to win Mooli's for free.

50 Frith Street
London W1D 4SQ
020 7494 9075


  1. I went to Mooli's for the first time at the weekend but will definitely be back, it's really refreshing to have an alternative to the ubiquitous mayo covered sandwich, that tastes great!

  2. Went here the other day. Was really good and great customer service too...hard to find in Soho!