28 October 2009

Mooli's stories

We all have one, at least. With the opening date nearing we are all even thinking about it right now or relaying it to friends over dinner or coffee somewhere in NYC, India, Switzerland, Sweden, Paris, Germany or another time-zone. It is your own mooli story: the time you were there when the apple was added, the decision on postcards made, the name change, the near-investment, the near-partnership, perhaps even the envy, and what it has stirred in you whether short term (what you will cook that day) or more long term (for your own future).

When two people decide to take a step aside from the usual path and realise their dream on the scale that they are about to (this is not an opening in Redbridge, but Soho), it is difficult not to be touched and, as I said, stirred. The objective achievement can be celebrated later, let us now focus on our very own mooli story.

For me there are many to choose from, but perhaps the few that stick in the mind (for now at least) is the the day it became clear that Sam was ready to channel his energy and drive into realising his dream of opening the kind of indian on-the-go concept he had been dreaming about. My realisation came when I visited him at his Baker street flat. There, with the lovely Fran, Sam unveiled his initial vision, Tikkas. The name may have been ditched but the discussions that day made it clear that he was abolsutely determined to do this.

Another story arises from the initial design meetings, where we discussed the identity of mooli's. I remember quite well that I opted for a design which was wild to say the least and totally out of keeping with what now seems right. It was more skateboard shop than old delhi meets tokyo. I must thank Sam's cousin for pointing this our forcefully and reminding me that I would have caused the death of mooli's before it even began.

The next story is really of Mathew's introduction. Until that point the menu had been focused on tikkas and the more conventional fare, which would have been great, but in retrospect it did not quite reflect the originality and freshness of what Sam wanted to bring in his initial vision. Neither did it reflect Mathew's vision, and with his involvement the menu took a different direction, one which we will soon be enjoying and which truly reflects the ideal of both men. It just seems so right that we can safely forget the tikkas etc of before. It also reflects the great partnership they both have.

Both of them have co-authored the story in a way which makes it compelling and bloody tasty. Roll on 9 November 2009.

26 October 2009

if you believe, they put a man on the moon

another bread post and this one is a really happy one.

on her debut, on a late Sunday evening amidst lots of sawdust, Moolita (with some help from Raju) made the best rotis ever. Raju made around 30 dough balls (each weighing exactly 70 grams - the dough ball machine which looks like an over-sized R2D2 will be tested from Tuesday) and Moolita just churned 30 10" thin rotis out... perfectly. it was incredible really. Mathew took lots of pictures (i was careful not to sniff the bread this time) and videos. Christian from Hummus Bros stopped by.

i cycled home around 9.30pm (via Waterloo Bridge), cooked some saag paneer and ate that with Moolita rotis which Raju had so kindly packed for us. and wow. it was SO yummy. best decision we ever made... to be unreasonable. No E22, E*^^, just fresh homemade rotis.

24 October 2009


20 October 2009

Mooli's: Good for lunch

and also good for tea, drinks and dinner.

18 October 2009

A Sandy Epistle

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Dear Diary

I have been a bad correspondent, I know. The burden of expressing my thoughts has weighed on me heavily. I shall now download freely, as there are a few things to convey.

Dubai continues to intrigue me. Today I chanced upon a restaurant that serves japanese and italian food. There were so many things to celebrate about it. The phillipino chefs may have been playing the role of authentic Japanese chefs, but in terms of their creativity they were anything but copycats. They along with the rather charming waitress spent some time talking with me, no doubt attracted by my singular presence and joie de vivre. The waitress, who was of Arabic (rather than usual indian) descent, rather confirmed my suspicion that only the veil prevents your correspondent from conquering the salons of the Middle East.

I then ended up having some so-called fat free frozen yoghurt and began to reflect upon the related notion of "Mooli's are delhi meets tokyo". What does this mean? All those in the immediate orbit of S&M appear to understand this mantra, and they are so confident of its meaning that it has become a pithy description of who they are. Yet I wonder if it is so clear given the fact that Japanese cuisine is not really reflected in the food. It can only mean the things that claim the hearts of the mooli's founders. The Japanese claim must, presumably, refer to all the things usually associated with (how we perceive) Japan, probably more specifically Tokyo: simplicity, quirkiness, inventiveness, symmetry and an obsession in big things and small. It is not just an aesthetic but (almost) a way of life. These are all alluring qualities, alluring certainly to our friends.

My mooli's friends have of late regularly mentioned their disdain for glow in the dark tikkas and other foods/items usually identified with the average "indian restaurant". They are right to distinguish themselves and be driven to save the term "indian food" from some of its more unsavoury associations. But I hope that we do not in the process forget the great contribution the restaurants did make; without their work the market mooli's is entering would be very different. And the contribution of these old establishments can only be understood when one appreciates that in so many ways England is the unlikeliest of places to fall in love with the rich, spicy almost heady mix that is indian food. Yet the fact that it did is something to celebrate.

I must now leave and download in a different way. I shall return.

it's finally happening

I don't remember the exact day when Mooli's (at the time it was Aloo's!) was thought up. It was sometime in the winter of 2003 in cold Oxford.

Mooli's Ltd. was formed in July 2008 with one director (who was also the company secretary). We've come a long way since then. Mathew is the best business partner I could imagine, we have a really talented and committed chef in Raju, some great investors and let's not forget Moolita.

In that post about Mooli's Ltd., Mathew commented and said 'i'm mooli madly deeply about different coloured chairs around a table!' End of this month, those chairs will be around the tables. I spoke to anon nyc last night - and he said it was going to be unreal coming to London and buying a mooli. It's all finally happening. Two weeks from now the soft launch will begin and hopefully we launch properly around 6 November.

The blog has been great for Mathew, TAB and me. It's been fun and it's given us focus. Thank you all for reading this blog, leaving comments and lending your support.

We'll see you soon at Mooli's @50 Frith Street.

17 October 2009

Sniffing bread

.......at times like these i have second thoughts about my business partner....

16 October 2009

14 October 2009

11 October 2009

free mooli

when we launch, every day at 12pm sharp we will announce on our blog (obviously), website, facebook and twitter who qualifies for a free mooli. like our blog, it'll be pretty random (from wearing yellow to being bald to wearing baseball caps!). this was Fran's idea and we love it. so there. at mooli's, there IS such a thing as a free lunch. :D

AND you can earn/win a mooli too in the afternoon (and have a lovely hot chai) if you pop by 50 Frith Street. but before i tell you how, i feel like rambling (it's been a long day and a ramble is in order).

i've completely stopped playing poker now and it's strange. just a few months ago, i was in Las Vegas playing the World Series of Poker.

not playing poker is a bit like how i felt when i stopped playing much chess years ago. but chess might be coming back, sort of. i was going through some old photos and found some of me playing chess in Washington Square Park (NYC) and Harvard Square (Boston). it's a pity that London doesn't have anything similar.

both times, i broke even (they usually play for $2-$5 per blitz game) though i was playing a bit relaxed against the old chess master. which reminds me of an interesting story. Jonathan Rowson (the author of many an insightful comment on our blog including my favourite - 'screw being reasonable' or something to that effect) who is a strong Grand Master, 3 time British Chess Champion, author of tons of books etc. was studying at Harvard and one day while he was passing through Harvard Square, he was asked to play a game by a seasoned regular (guys who sit there playing all day - that's how they make their living). Jonathan declined but was asked again so he thought what the hell, i'll play one game. he won quite easily. as is often the case, the seasoned regular asks for a re-match. at this point, Jonathan feels a bit guilty (being a GM and all that) and tells him who he is. the seasoned regular says 'yes, but this is my job. lets play again'. this time its a real tough fight but Jonathan wins. you got to respect that guy though.

which brings me back to winning your mooli. most afternoons, you can come by and play yours truly for a game of blitz chess (3 minutes each) and if you beat me, you win a mooli of your choice. you can only win one mooli a week though - we need this restriction otherwise Jonathan might be there pretty often (he likes the Asparagus and Potato Mooli a lot).

08 October 2009

Are we Indian?

As we firm up our viral marketing campaign, one that is set to take Soho by storm, we’ve been forced to answer one recurring question. Just how Indian are we?

Sam and I are both Indian, Raju our head Chef is Indian. Our beef is Keralan. Our pork is Goan. Our chicken can be found on kitchen tables in most (non-veg) North Indian households in India. Our paneer has a distinctive achari and panch phoran flavour. And our potatoes are cooked in geera and is served with raita and tamarind chutney. Sounds pretty Indian to me.

And yet, we shy away from any overt “Indian” associations in any of our branding, our communications, our decor. Mooli’s is a pretty Indian name, but only to Indians.

Is Mooli’s ashamed to be Indian ?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. We are proud of our incredibly diverse and exciting culinary heritage. If I was to choose my last meal it would probably be appam and Malabar chicken stew.

But we wash our hands of the cuisine that many mis-informed Londoners commonly identify as being “Indian”. The sludge that is served up by some of the curry houses of Brick Lane. That is not Indian, and if it is perceived to be, then we don’t want to be a part of it.

Mooli’s are not glow in the dark tikka masala.

Mooli’s don’t use ghee or cashew nut pastes in any of our dishes.

Mooli’s are all about dry roasting our spices.

And we’ve gone beyond the traditional. While our beef is a distillation of different recipes from 5 Keralan families, we’ve been bold enough to serve it alongside a cucumber raita, a tomato salsa and mixed leaf lettuce. On the plantations of Kottayam, the tatta kadda’s of Cochin and even in the Chandy household, only whisky is considered good enough to be served with Keralan beef (or olathi erachi as it known).

Mooli’s serves a pomegranate salsa with our pork; We’ve added the crunch of apple to our chicken. And elevated the simple geera aloo with the addition of crisp asparagus.

Many years ago, bucket loads of cream, coconut and sugar was added to classic Indian dishes to make them more palatable to local tastes in Britain. Similarly, some might unfairly accuse us of selling out. I think we’ve just taken our favourite Indian flavours and added a dash of zing & zest to them.

I hope you will agree. Only weeks to ago.

03 October 2009

mooli's are pt 2

mooli's are nothing to do with moolis.
mooli's are all about moolis if it makes money.
mooli's are not in essex. yet.
mooli's are all about small caps.
mooli's are alpacino in scarface.
mooli's are partly funded by auctioning a space-moon vintage rolex.
mooli's aren't going to lick your arse to get your custom.
mooli's are all about testing their food in the sunday upmarket.
mooli's are an iphone that has sex with you and makes you food.
mooli's are all about single-handedly reviving the pomegranate market.
mooli's are not about to go all poofy and speak to you in childish patronising tones.
mooli's are sometimes going to try things which don't come off. So what.
mooli's are not going to have a hole in the floor toilet.
mooli's are definitely planning to take over the world.
mooli's are david bowie in the 70s.
mooli's are amitabh bachchan in sharaabi (especially in that concert scene with jaya prada).
mooli's are in love with the bank of baroda.
mooli's are about the give the world blueberry kulfi.
mooli's are indebted to mummys and daadees.
mooli's are so glad they were not called tikkas.
mooli's are paying rent to the greek orthodox church of cyprus
mooli's are loving the handmade t-shirt chandy is wearing in legalweek.