Soho Lunch Sessions #1: Mooli, 50 Frith Street

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A couple of Fridays ago, I was invited to visit Mooli on Frith Street - the perfect excuse to start my new series of posts about lunching in Soho - the Soho Lunch Sessions.

Mooli, which celebrated its second birthday this month, sells Indian street food-inspired roti wraps, bags of poppadoms with spiced chutneys, daal and the unusual aloo papdi chaat - a pot of chickpeas, potato, tamarind, spices, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, served cold.

I have to say, I was invited by the manager to visit the restaurant in my lunch break and was expecting to try a roti or two... SIX rotis, a pot of aloo papdi chaat, a pack of poppadoms and a strawberry and chilli lassi later and I waddled back to the office to attempt to work for the rest of the afternoon.

Mooli is not where I would immediately think of when - on the rare occasion I can take a full lunch break - I am looking for somewhere to spend that precious hour. I normally gravitate to LJ coffee house, Fox and Ginger or the like (i.e. somewhere that has sofas for me to sprawl on). However, Moolis is the perfect place to meet someone for a quick, informal lunch or dinner - they also have a licenced bar offering mojitos, Indian beers and tequila. The restaurant has the feel of a chain but surprisingly this is is the only one (so far... they are looking for premises at the moment for Moolis #2). It's light, bright and airy and not what you would expect from an Indian eatery.

I was introduced to the Mooli menu by Gabriele, the manager, who brought me some poppadoms with four different chutneys to try including raita, tomato chutney and a tamarind sauce, plus a pot of aloo papdi chaat. The poppadoms were a revelation. I'm used to the standard white, round ones from my local takeaway. These ones were flavoursome, fatter and crunchier than your average poppadom... and imported from India.

Poppadoms served with spiced chutneys
The aloo papdi chaat was a bit of a strange concoction. Sweet tamarind with cool yogurt, spiced chick peas and potato served with pomegranate seeds and a crunchy topping of fried puri (deep fried strips of dough).  It was a bit of a taste explosion and I'm not sure how I felt about it. I think the fact that it was served cold when I had anticipated something hot flipped my mind a little.

Aloo papdi chaat
Onto the rotis... I was advised to try them in order of spiciness, eating the mildest one first. So that would be the paneer - not something I'd normally choose on a menu but deliciously spiced and jam packed with flavour.

Paneer roti with tomato chutney and carrot

The chicken and beef were next - on the same level of spice as the paneer... enough to feel the heat but not to burn your mouth off. Then the chickpea - surprisingly this was my favourite... in this fiery little number the chickpeas still maintain their bite with a sauce of tangy tamarind and spring onion salsa.

North Indian-inspired Chana Masala Chickpea roti

Chicken roti with pickled turnip, raita and fenugreek
 The highly anticipated pork and goat were the last rotis to test. The pork because it has pomegranate seeds in and I am obsessed with these little jewels; and goat because, well, it's goat and how often can you order a goat wrap for your lunch in Soho? They both lived up to expectations. The goat, not too tough or dry, and suculent pork were both pretty spicy but not too hot to handle. The minted lime water really helped with the mouth burn.

Goan pork roti with pomegranate salsa
 I took some pretty rubbish pictures of a strawberry and chilli lassi that I won't bother to inflict on you but I can honestly say my lassi passion has been reignited. Lassis are traditionally supposed to cool you down - the yoghurt tempering the heat of the spices. Moolis turn this on its head with their chilli variety and it really works. Think of it as a grown up milkshake, with added bite. I don't think this is on their menu yet but it definitely should be...please!

I left Moolis a good few pounds heavier but without that dreaded heavy feeling you often get after eating at Indian restaurants - it actually felt pretty healthy. I'm also planning my return visit for tomorrow lunchtime for a goat wrap. My wallet won't be much lighter either as the mini Moolis start at a bargainous £3 and the larger ones at £5.

Moolis, 50 Frith Street, Soho
* Thanks to Gabriele at Moolis for hosting me, roti photo credits to Moolis

Market trading, restaurant reviews, London supper clubs... and losing my foodie mojo

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

These last two weeks have been frantic. I've done an afternoon tea-themed market stall at South Lambeth Market, am in planning mode for the Christmas market, have been 'training' as a market stall holder (this sadly does not involve how to shout 'buy my pies' in my best East-end accent, but is more about the ins and outs of book keeping and the legal requirements), did my first restaurant review, and started visiting some London supper clubs (more on the last two to follow). Combining this with my full-time day job has not been easy, hence my blog-neglect over the past few weeks.

These past few weeks I have felt a little like a naughty school girl who hasn't done her homework and have been putting off writing up my posts for some unknown reason (most probably lack of time). Today is the day I am BACK ON IT.

Firstly, my last market stall was a success. I made far more than last month so it meant I didn't run dry at 3pm. On top of the usual scotch eggs, lamb tarts, goats cheese tarts and tomato tarte tatins, I made fig and Gorgonzola tartlets with crushed hazelnuts, apple and ginger scotch eggs, cheesy hedgehogs, pesto and Parmesan pin wheels, feta and sun dried tomato scones and olive and Parmesan savoury cakes. The abundance of food also meant that we had plenty of scotch eggs for packed lunch the following week - always a bonus!

Cheesy hedgehog bread rolls - so cute
It was truly a marathon baking session - up at 7.30am on Friday morning to make pastry and not finishing until my cheesy hedgehogs came out of the oven at 10.30pm. South Lambeth Market doesn't start until 10am on Saturday (thank god) so I didn't have to be up at the crack of dawn but still.... I commend all market traders who do this as a real job (and not just as a ridiculous hobby). My whole body was aching after two days standing up - I must be really unfit.

I have to say a special thank you to my parents-in-law who came down from oop North for the weekend to be my pot-wash and sous chef. I'm not sure they realised what they were letting themselves in for...

Displaying my wares...

Moroccan lamb, feta and pomegranate tarts, served with minted yoghurt

feta, olive and sun dried tomato scones & pesto and Parmesan pinwheels

Come and visit my stall at the next market - on the 10th December, I'll be doing stocking fillers, edible Christmas delights and delicious treats, perfect for festive dinner or drinks parties  (I don't even mind if you claim you made them yourself!)

Email me for preorders, special requests or canape creations.

Leiths week 6 - pistachio crusted rack of lamb, boulangere potatoes & a chocolate fondant

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

This week was my last week at Leiths cookery school (sob) and most probably the most challenging week of the whole course. We were presented with a rack of lamb, complete with chine bone and shown how to remove the fat, the rubbery piece of tendon called the paddywack (no joke, this is actually what it's called - amazing) and how to scrape the bones clean. A pretty gruesome job... but it was Halloween so it seemed apt.

Once clean, naked and beautiful, the lamb was coated with a crust of ground pistachios, butter and thyme (very liberal amounts of butter were used in my case) and left to set in the fridge. In the meantime we made boulangere potatoes - thinly sliced potato and onion, layered covered in white stock (made from chicken and veal bones) and yet more butter and cooked for 2 hours. The recipe (in the Leiths Bible) stated to cook the lamb for half an hour... this seemed excessive so mine was cooked for 15 minutes and was still very pink inside (I do like it practically bleating...)

The final dessert of my Leiths adventure was a classic chocolate fondant. Really simple to make, these little chocolate pots of amazingness cannot fail to impress. Sadly I got melted chocolate (and butter) all over my recipe in the class and hoped it would be in my Leiths technique bible at home so I could share it with you... sadly it's not - I will try to be less messy in future...

The melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondants were served, warm from the oven, with a raspberry coulis (with added zing from the zest and juice of a lime) and obligatory cream

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...