Indian street food restaurant Mughli is one of the curry mile’s most highly-regarded restaurants – and for good reason. Alongside the tried and tested classics, you’ll find a menu offering all manner of dishes from the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
The small plates section throws up the more interesting options, including the excellent General Tso’s cauliflower. As the name implies, this is Mughli’s nod to Indo-Chinese cuisine, featuring thick segments of lightly battered cauliflower, coated in a deep fiery chilli and tomato sauce, scattered with sesame seeds. It’s a wonderful dish, much lighter than the chicken-based equivalent found in Chinese restaurants, with no let-up on the bright, punchy flavours.
The Hakka chilli paneer is another fine choice, with small cubes of gently fried cheese smothered in soft saucy peppers and crispy onions. The only drawback is the inclusion of baby sweetcorn (the devil’s own vegetable), which adds an unwanted earthiness to the plate.
Seafood-lovers should go for the masala fish: gorgeous white hunks of fish, coated in a crispy, spicy batter, although the accompanying tamarind sauce doesn’t add much. The dhabba keema is the best of the small plates, largely thanks to the accompanying buttery flatbread. The keema is tasty enough on its own, sprinkled through with bright pink pickled onion slices, but becomes a whole new world of flavour and texture when scooped up with this delicious flaky bread.
The lamb nihari is a disappointment. Despite being billed as a slow-cooked lamb shank, the meat is tough, chewy and welded fast to the bone, proving difficult to carve into without sloshing the watery sauce everywhere. This gristly serving doesn’t compare to the nihari on offer at places like East Z East and Zouk, which use a richer, thicker sauce, into which the braised meat tumbles apart beautifully.
Far better is the kulchi, a bowl of Lahori minced lamb, bolstered with chunks of chicken tikka. Minced lamb can be uninspiring in the wrong hands, but Mughli gets the level of spice just right, not to mention adding a creaminess that complements but doesn’t dominate. It’s a standout dish.
As you’d expect with a menu so large, Mughli has some hits and misses. And while the slow-cooked lamb is a missed opportunity, the other items on the menu are up there with the best the city’s Indian restaurants have to offer.
Think about a drink to accompany the great British curry and the mind instantly wanders to those staple ‘Indian’ lagers Kingfisher and Cobra, and whilst there is a place for those two macro beers, to quote Tony Wilson, “This is Manchester, we do things differently here”.
And that is exactly what Mughli have done by becoming part of the ever-expanding craft beer scene in Manchester. Proprietors Haz and Saz Arshad have teamed up with local brewers First Chop Brewing Arm to create a beer to complement their tasty, spicy food.
The beer has a refreshing citrus, almost sweet taste
The result is Horn OK Please, a light ale. The name is a subtle nod to the authenticity of Mughli’s food, a phrase commonly seen on the rear of vehicles all over India, alerting other drivers that they can use their horn. The Stanley Chow designed label shows a cow, sacred in India, and ubiquitous on the roads.
The beer itself is pale straw-like in colour with a slight haze, this isn’t a heavily hopped beer but it doesn’t need to be. The beer has a refreshing citrus, almost sweet taste, which goes extremely well with the food as it complements the spices well. In summary, excellently crafted beer for excellently crafted food.
Drinks review by Stephen Wilson