Is the Renowned Indian Street Food restaurant really worth the hype?

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In 2014, Founder Nisha Katona, flipped her whole life around from working as a Barrister, to becoming a ‘curry evangelist’, dedicating her life to teaching people the authenticity of the perfect curry. She wanted to bring the celebration of culture and food, providing the nation with an experience of Indian food that was more than your average Indian takeaways (no shade on my Indian takeaways). So, I thought I would push my boat out and visit Mowgli for the very first time. Here are my thoughts. 

Based in Hockley, you can spot the restaurant from a mile away, with its fairy lights brightening up the streets. From the outside, onlookers admiringly peer in on the dazzling establishment, enticing you inside. When inside, you are instantly transported to a romantic environment. With swings instead of chairs, you really feel the thoughtful interior bringing elements of fun to your dining experience. However, I’m sad to say that the service did not match the same energy. I was expecting our waiters to be bubbly and excited, especially since I mentioned I was a first timer. Instead, I was walked through the generic recommendations of 2-3 dishes per person and then left to our own means to navigate the menu. Possibly advice on personal favourites or even customer favourites? I wish the service took the opportunity to carry through the wonders of this beautiful establishment, because for me, the experience provided can make or break a place. I would have preferred for them to share the same passions that the founder Nisha has expressed in so many of her interviews.  

But onto the main event- the food! The beauty of street food is the numerous small dishes that offer diversity in taste and textures. We opted for the Goan fish curry and the Mother Butter Chicken. When having the chicken, it was so tender that I had mistaken it to be the fish dish, I could not get over how the meat literally melted away in my mouth. However, I found that the dishes were both quite sweet. Granted as I ate more, more flavours and complexities followed. But I would have preferred more depth and explosion of flavours within my first mouthful to entice me further, rather than being overpowered with sweetness. The lovely idea with the curries is their ‘Curry Companions’ where you can choose from a selection of greens, slaw, puri, roti breads, or basmati rice to compliment your curries (but this is at an extra added price). One thing I do want to RAVE about is their Treacle Tamarind Fries. Sweet? Yes, but the experience that these little Tato-tots provided made me keep going for shovels more throughout the meal. Covered in this divine tamarind sticky sauce, red onions, and chopped fresh chillies, they had the right amount of bite and kick to compliment this dish beautifully. We also opted for the Monkey Wrap, an open roti wrap, with succulent, charred tandoori chicken, jewels of pomegranate, spinach, mint & that crazy rainbow of homespun Mowgli chutneys. I honestly loved everything about this dish. Those chunks of pomegranate sprinkled on top provided pure moments of joy. And food should always spark joy! 

Many thanks Mowgli. I’ll be sure to look at Nisha’s cookbooks to try and recreate these my own dishes of passionate Indian street food. 

Located: 1 Stoney Street, Hockley. 

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