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.


sameer said...

Are we Indian or are we dancer?

sameer said...

one woman at the market described us as 'Indiany'.

ps i have not lost it - the last comment is a take on the killers song.

Anonymous said...

Indian cooking that is not Essexual, in other words.

loonietunes said...

people wherever they are have distinctive roots, but surroundings e.g. flavours, sounds, etc add to their character...same goes for being indian no matter if it's food music or person related

Rax Lakhani said...

I can tell you what you are... bloody delicious, that's what! Easily my favourite eatery in London. Not just Indian (although your Goan roti is Mmmmmmmmmm) but you have influences from all over.

estouest said...

cool post: you guys rock! and your indian moolis are so amazing that I have no doubt they will take over the world - and NY very soon!