30 December 2010

Strengths are Weaknesses. And vice versa

I’ve spent almost three weeks back home now, travelling in Kerala, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore. Reminding myself of the things I love the most (and least) about Indian cuisine…here are a few ramblings

1. There still isn’t any coffee in the West that can match a well made south Indian filter coffee (kaapi). Not an espresso in Milan, not a macchiato in Monmouth, not even my beloved piccolo from Milk Bar. The South Indian Filter Kaapi is strong, yet milky. Light yet creamy. To die for.

2. There are now fast food chains everywhere. McD’s and KFC strewn around far too liberally. As are CafĂ© Coffee Day, Kaati Zone, Subway and lots of other crap. The best Indian fast food is still the chaat wallahs of the North and the Udupi restaurants of the South.

3. Most Indian restaurant food continues to be extremely heavy. Heavy on spice, heavy on ghee, light on freshness. Not many lunches have gone by without me needing a little snooze in the afternoon, one of lifes little pleasures.
4. The Old School clubs (of the gym-khana variety) set up by the British still rock. They still do some of the best tikkas, naans, chicken s’wiches and fesh lime sodas. And the service still as wonderfully laid back.

I’ve had lots of time to think about Mooli’s. Everything that we have (and haven’t) managed to achieve in the last year. When Aditya (an IIM alumnus with a soft spot for a goat mooli) kindly prepared a SWOT analysis for us, one recurring theme was that our biggest weaknesses also happen to be our biggest strengths. And vice versa. Coffee is one of the most profitable items to sell, but we still don’t serve coffee at Mooli’s because we didn’t want the distraction that would have been required to serve an outstanding cup of coffee. We haven’t yet hired a manager because we wanted to personally make sure that everything was just right. Our menu is still incredibly focused despite the demand to serve dosas, madhur vadas, poha, masala omlettes and everything that somebodys grandmother once cooked for them. We use pomegranates, green apple, spring onions, grated carrot and romaine lettuce and other fresh stuff liberally, despite protests from our more conventional customers. We wouldn’t dream of franchising, even though that would be the most obvious way to grow and conquer.

It is great to know your strengths and play to them. But in this industry, there is a fine dividing line between the two.

13 December 2010

Know who you are

I have been religiously reading Seth Godin's blog for a while now. His posts tend to be insightful and to the point. This is my attempt at writing a Seth Godin type post.

Some people are better than others at knowing who they are. What makes them tick, what they're good at, what they're weak at, what motivates them, what's really important to them. The increased self-awareness helps them make tough decisions, prioritise and ultimately make their lives better.

It is the same with companies. The really strong companies know exactly who they are. What they are really good at, what they won't compromise on, what kind of people fit in their organisation. This doesn't mean they aren't flexible, just that they are aware of their DNA so when faced with big decisions, they know which way to go.

Many years ago I remember having an espresso (with jaffa cakes of course) with a friend at the BCG coffee station. I was telling him how Mooli's would be great at everything. He paused and said, 'you can't be great at everything'. He was right.

Figure out who you are. What's really important to you, what you won't compromise on, what you are going to focus on.

Then go kick some ass.

03 December 2010

Pubescent Mooli's

"Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a child's body becomes an adult body capable of reproduction."

I've spent so much time reading TABs blog posts, that i'm starting to write atrocious stuff like him. I just wish i was as funny. His posters have been photographed so many times that I suspect he'll get the call up from one of the big Soho ad agencies pretty soon.

But this blog has always had an uncomfortably honest streak about it, so screw it, lets talk about it.

We're at that very awkward stage. looking, acting and sounding a bit different from the babes we once were. but quite inconsistently. One day, we're dying to professionalise our management and operations, and the next day we're still fretting over whether the water jugs have been refilled. we come down hard when someone is late, and go soft over.....well soft stuff. it is so easy to be seduced by smooth talking financiers, PR agencies and landlords. and yes, everyday our mooli seems to get bigger.

"Under the influence of androgens, the voice box, or larynx, grows in both sexes. This growth is far more prominent in boys, causing the male voice to drop and deepen, sometimes abruptly but rarely over night. Occasionally, voice change is accompanied by unsteadiness of vocalization"

We're nice guys at heart, but are trying to unleash that ruthless streak that businessmen seem to need. i suspect every start-up goes through these growing pains but it must take its toll on those within close range. its great that we've got a wonderful team who are also learning to fly with us. the wind beneath.

19 November 2010

Soup wording

The men at mooli's asked for some ideas for the wording on the soups they are about to launch. Here are some that spring to mind. The randomness of ideas is such that I hope you too will chip in with your thoughts:

The mofo of soups*

As wholesome as the Happy days and the Cosby Show.

We never set out to make soups. But these are so tasty (and the increase in VAT) that our hand was forced. Did we already mention the increase in VAT?

If we were corny and cute we would say these soups are like a warm delicious hug.

*I have this in mind for the chicken stew

Takeaway copy

"Please do not worry about dropping food on the floor. It will not be wasted as we will feed it to our staff."

"mooli's are so meta."

"If you find a better indian roll with delicious fillings wrapped in homemade rotis, then please do not tell us. Honesty."

"Mooli's is the ideal food for self-hating Indians and those who are unable to properly use an apostrophe."

"Don't be a door Knob, buy a mooli."

"A number of people have mentioned how they had a similar idea to mooli's. How nice."

"Mooli's: where cows, goats, chickens and channa come to die."

13 November 2010

Chicken stew for.......

Ok, so winter is truly here. Its cold, dark and miserable.

Mama mooli came to town to celebrate our anniversary, and i'm seizing the opportunity to sharpen up our Malabar chicken stew (Kozhi ishtoo in Kerala) recipe. Some of you got a sneak preview over Onam a few months ago, but its going to be even better.

Typical of us Syrian Christians of Kerala, its a really unusual dish. The flavours are genuinely subtle and mild - so mild that we'd eat it at breakfast with pal appams (a rice pancake that is soft in the middle and crisp and flaky on the edges) or iddi-appams (rice vermicilli or string hoppers). Yes, it is mild but its got the most gorgeous and balanced flavour - whole spices (fresh peppercorns, green chilli, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves) stewed with coconut milk, chicken, potatoes, ginger-garlic, shallots and celery.

There is no other Indian dish that I know of which has so much flavour and is yet so subtle. Like bullets with butterfly wings. Our antidote to the winter blues should be ready in a few days.

And just for the record, the lady in the video is not mama mooli. And the voice over is definitely not me!

08 November 2010

We've come a long long way together

Of course I would write tonight. In a couple of hours we will complete one full year. Many said that we would not make it.

Tonight I'd like to dwell on some of our favourite mistakes. They were mistakes, because had we known better we might not have made them. But i'm glad we made them.

1. We thought we were a better dinner product than a lunch product. LOL. Had we known better we would have opened in the City. But we would have probably ended up being just another sandwich bar in the City. Today we are Mooli's from Soho. And the City landlords are calling out to us. At last weeks "Restaurant Conference" we were named in Davis Coffer's presentation on "The Killer Brands Every Landlord Wants".

2. We didnt really understand real estate. We didnt realise that 50 Frith Street which is just 20 metres from heaving Old Comption Street was 20 metres too far. But then again, we are now mentioned in the same breath as our neighbours Barrafina and Koya. Not Tuk Tuk Noodles and £3 Veg Buffet.

3. We didnt know how much time and money and space it would take to make fresh rotis in Soho. We could have crammed in 20 more chairs, reduced our labour costs by 10% and gained a few hours of extra sleep instead of rushing down everytime Moolita acted up. But screw that.

4. We didnt realise that opening in winter would be so much harder than opening in summer. Word of Mouth marketing is slower in winter so we had to sweat blood and tears to win our custom. We learned the hard way. But we learned.

Megan's ipod is playing "Feeling Groovy" by S&G. Its been ages since I heard this track.

So here's to making a few more (favourite) mistakes. Starting your own business is also about making mistakes, and learning from them. Do come and join us for a drink tomorrow evening as we celebrate our first anniversary.

27 October 2010

the Real Estate

we've been lax. I know. ignoring the blog just because there was a real business to run.

the last few weeks, months and years, it feels like we've learned so much about Real Estate. i dont know the origins of the term, but i'm sure there is a very good reason its called the Real Estate.

foodie brands that have managed to grow, grow fast and grow well, have all figured out the real estate game. which is a real minefield. and there are some great brands with great products who are still stuttering along because they dont get it. Real Estate that is.

did you know that 20 metres is sometimes 20 metres too far? so lots of people think we have the most amazing location - 50 Frith Street. 20 metres from Old Compton, which is the most bustling steet in Soho. but it is possibly 20 metres too far. that said, despite the limited seating, the foil wrapping and our reluctance to hand out cutlery, Mooli's has become a destination now, and Frith Street is a destination street, not a drop-in street.

it gets even more bizarre. ever thought you could be on the wrong side of the street? you may have found a fab location on the best street, but if the passing trade walks on the other side because.....maybe because that is where the tube spills out, or that is where the pavement is broader....then you dont have such a good location. Can you really be on the wrong side of Fleet Street, Upper Street or Regent Street?

on a related, but unrelated point, make sure you know your product well. what is commonly a dinner product in the US, Vietnam or India, may be a better lunch product in the UK. and vice versa. burritos are far more popular here at lunch than dinner. Dim Sum seems to be becoming a dinner product in London, when it was traditionally a brunch thingy. which way will it swing for Mooli's? We're doing a roaring lunch trade from a Soho location that has never had a good lunch trade.....

and then there is the whole game of A1 v. A3 locations. and Premiums. and Extraction. Sam identified this way back when we were still writing the second draft of our business plan. I wont go into the details of the joys of A1 locations, but i suspect industry peers and hopefuls are smiling quietly to themselves.

11 August 2010

cheers to Independence

..........its been well over a year now since I quit UBS. Its been well over 2 years since Sam left BCG. Independence my friends, is certainly not overrated.

And so this weekend we celebrate Independence Day at Mooli's. I say "we" because we've been adopted by loads of homesick Pakistanis as well. Well....... the recipe for "our" Punjabi Goat could well have come from "their" Punjab. Indo-Pak rivalry is best left to the cricket pitch and politicians.

Raju has been planning some killer specials for a while now. We're having spicy & tangy papdi chaat. And a special (chatpatta) channa mooli with spicy kimchi. And if we ask very nicely, Raju might even do a mattar-kheema mooli. To flaunt our independence, we wont translate that into English English :-)

We know its Ramzan. It is flooding in Pakistan. And we're getting hammered in cricket by the Kiwis. But..... we always have someting to celebrate.

So come down and raise a toast to Independence with us. We've got the specials on all day on Saturday (14th August) and until 5pm on Sunday (15th August).

PS: We asked the bosses and they're OK with us staying open this Sunday.

PS2: Obviously, everyone is invited. You dont have to have a passport which is filled with innumerable visas and work permits.

This isnt meant to insult anyone, its just hilarious!


13 July 2010

My first post

From 50 Frith St. A few more tag-line candidates:

"Don't be a door Knob, buy a mooli."

"The bargain is simple: we act friendly and show an interest in your life, you buy a mooli."

"We won't lie. We are out to get you addicted to our mwizzle*.

*in common parlance a mooli, which in turn comes from the latin, moliato."

"A mooli is the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus of the food world."

"A number of people have mentioned how they had a similar idea to mooli's. How nice."

11 July 2010

Der Spiegel

Introducing the Gandhi Mooli. Please don't eat it.

-"Marketing ideas that were rejected", Vogue, Vol 24, 2010 (Marketing special)

Mooli's aren't bad and certainly not special.

-Psychologico Reverso, Vol 1, Issue 3.

Imagine a burrito taking out a Mumbai frankie for a date, wining and dining her and then making sweet love to her against the background music of Teddy Pendergrass. But then the frankie has a little daliiance with a sashimi. It is out of that triangular relationship that a mooli is born.

Long and Winded Weekly, Issue 4.

01 July 2010

funny how time flies (when you're having fun)

a year ago, i was about to leave for the US.

"i fly to San Antonio, Texas on Wednesday in search of the perfect bread and then to Las Vegas, Nevada to play the World Series of Poker, Main Event."

that was a fun trip. we finally found Moolita. i busted out of the World Series on day 2 (but tried hard to get on ESPN by watching Phil Ivey).

a year on... fresh rotis made daily at 50 Frith Street. slow January evenings. record days in June. Evening Standard. mouth-watering Indian street food. the goat mooli. Federer losing in the quarters of Wimbledon. mooli champions. twitter. Mathew offering a discounted mooli in a gay bar (this is true). accounts (boring). German mooli (Germany should reach the finals just so we can make this - we have a killer idea). LBS. twitter. facebook. Rahul Dravid @moolis. the bobotie mooli. dal. pomegranate power (copyright Hannah Botham). mooli tuesday. 104 mojitos. twitter.

it's 6.30 fucking am. thankfully i only have the evening shift today. i was telling a friend the other day that i need a proper holiday. well, i'm in luck. this Sunday, exactly a year after i flew to San Antonio, Texas, i fly to Sicily.

the godfather.

25 June 2010

Letter IV

Dear Aristu-Jah,

My son I hope you have been enlightened by my first three letters to you. Rather than burden you with another chapter in my life and (by now) my not so implicit messages for the one you will lead as you enter your nineteenth year, I thought in this fourth letter I would focus on a small but niggling disappointment.

You have probably heard of Mooli's, the hugely popular Indian eatery. What you may not know is that I knew the owners well and witnessed first hand its establishment from a stall to its first branch in Soho, which I believe is no longer there (you may not believe it, but Soho was a trendy place at the time; the action switched to the other side of Oxford street). At the time Mooli's had a focus on just 5 mooli rolls with various tasty fillings (my favourite used to be Paneer until your mother's vegetarian ways (not to mention her all round poor cooking) put me off paneer forever).

One of my early suggestions was for a breakfast mooli to be introduced. I just thought this would be a great idea, and was sure that a soft spicy egg filling in a warm fresh chappati roll would be a winner. And importantly it did not have to be sold in the morning - it was a strength that it could be sold late in the day. At the time there were very few offerings like this. But the idea was never adopted despite its attraction. I even shared a story of my childhood about the love of egg rolls to evoke similar stories in others, even though ultimately the story featured a man who had touched me with more than his cooking skills.

The idea was politely rejected. However, egg did feature in a mooli the founders introduced for the world cup in 2010 (which England surprisingly won). It was placed in a filling with keema - nice but why do that and not have a breakfast mooli?

You may think that the above hardly merits the tag of a disappointment and given the success of Mooli's (now about 10 rolls) not worth being concerned about. Yes, but that disappointment was to reverberate in my life in ways I could not imagine my dear son.

I know that when you were young, just entering your first year at Westminster, you asked me why I always slept in the study with the maid and not with your mother or why everyone would say that Kenny (your latin tutor's son) looked just like you. Well my son, I can reveal the answer now. It is linked to the failed breakfast mooli. When your mother and I initially met (I will talk about that more in letter VI) at the Chiswick reading group I was an occasional member of at the time, sparks flew. Never before had I seen a woman who was so at ease and knowledgeable about eighteenth century women writers of fiction , beat poetry and JayZ's early B sides before he became famous. She was formidable and, please don't cringe, in possession of the most wonderful hips I have ever seen. We courted and were married quickly. But there was a nagging doubt about whether she would appreciate my creative side and passion, however small and insignificant it may be.

It all came to a head one day when, already having annoyed me by belittling my breakfast mooli idea, your mother served me a concoction of the keema from the night before with some scrambled egg mixed in (yes it was a faux kind of bobotie, the very thing that the mooli founders preferred to my breakfast mooli idea). I am sure you will agree my son that this was the kind of personal affront no person should suffer. It was the very last straw and drove me into the arms of our then maid (that turned out not be a success but for different reasons which I shall explain in letter XI). What made me finally realise the impossibility of a life with your mother was when your latin tutor burst into tears half way through what had become her regular recitation of a Catullus poem. She said it was because she felt my pain. Why could your mother not do the same?

So you see my son, from a small disappointment came something much larger. But I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if the breakfast mooli was launched.

Always there,

Your father.

18 June 2010


We were hoping to ride the wave of World Cup euphoria by launching a World Cup special mooli. It is ready. But it feels odd to launch it tonight, with England putting in one of the most dismal performances I've ever seen. Anyway, the show must go on. Ironically, Anna has just started playing Massive Attack....

So we have it. The bobotie mooli. The original bobotie is a slightly wierd dish created by the Cape Malay community of South Africa. A kind of spicy shepherds pie. With chopped apricots, sultanas, and Mrs Balls peach chutney. Or if you hail from the sub-continent, think about it as baked kheema with anda, raisins and a Gujarati mango chutney.

Wierd but wonderful.

Our bobotie mooli is filled with lean lamb mince slow cooked in a heady spice blend until that peculiar lamb smell disappears into the fire of the spices. Seriously, it is pretty hot. We've gone light on the fruity stuff, although the mango chutney and egg (both optional) takes a little of the edge off. Just a little. And its got our famous zingy salsa of tomatoes, red onions and coriander marinated in lime juice. My brown cheeks are still flush from my first spicy bobotie mooli. Rooney & Co looked like they could have done with a bobotie mooli before the game.

credits: Rohit Chugh, Jan Smit, Mrs Balls, Rob Levy, Joanna Simon, Cape Town Fish Market, James Murrell, Manisha, Paul Tosio, Keith Posh, Herman Vanderwalt....

05 June 2010

What do you look like?

A number of readers have written to me asking the perfectly relevant (some would say overdue) question, "Are you as beautifully crafted and delicious as the prose you write?". Here is a video of me from circa 1986:


28 May 2010

Another level

It has been so long that I feel like a gushing bride sitting on a bed of roses atop a soft mattress on a 4 poster bed crafted by the finest Bengali* hands, all against the backdrop of a sensual hum of the sitar, awaiting the entrance of my tall (6 ft 2) tanned groom in a silk dhoti. I have not thought about this too much, promise.

One does not need reminding about the wonderful progress of Mooli's: 750 FB friends later (I remember that at inception Mooli's had around 545 or so friends), countless more followers and tweeters, reviews in the dozens, and the birth of Mooli's regulars. I was thinking what is next? How can Sam, Mathew and crew step it up even more? How can they have those queues? Does twittering and facebooking have its limits for this goal? Will I ever sleep with a girl again especially while I am in Dubai? How effective will the Evening Standard piece be? Has Sid lost weight on his you know what?

Perhaps we need to move from the virtual (and boy have they used that effectively to communicate their message) to the visual. As a brand Mooli's are more than just the 5 and now 6 beautifully made rolls. They are about the ideas and passion behind them, the passion that inspires you to cook, to want to go out and open your own place, whatever cuisine you desire, to make out that by association you also opened Mooli's and this should impress the girl you are talking to, to open a place and make sure that you are sourcing the best materials you can etc.

I am now getting sick on my own saccharine and marketing speak so let me get to my point. I think Sam and Mathew should showcase the broader canvas of their skills and passion by posting short videos of dishes they enjoy cooking and eating at home. A 5 minute quickie on scrambeld eggs with the twist of mango or chilli, the thai curry that is not thai curry, the hot cross buns that are not covered in butter but smokey peppered fish etc etc. They can even film their friends cooking their favourite dishes. I appreciate this can be time consuming but a short movie, which may not even need to focus on the face and kitchen, can be made relatively quickly. The key is for people to see the life behind the brand and to want to be part of it, to come and meet the folks who have created Mooli's and come up with cool ideas for quick suppers.

I can see the reviews right now:

"He may have hairy hands like Richard Keys or Teen Wolf, but let me tell you that man Sam can cook a mean scrambled eggs in 5 minutes." -Vogue

"He may look like a leftover from the 1960's ashram scene of Liverpool/India, but boy does he know how to rock my world with Tanzanian fish curry with an okra twist. Go try it." - Tatler

"With his sweet smile, cute dimples and little girl ponytail, I was shocked to see the way he butchered that piece of meat. But it was all worth it in the end for the Indian style carpaccio he created was simply heavenly. And so easy!" - Marie Claire

* Every Bengali I have met tells me that they are the artistic/cultural leaders of India. So that must be true.

18 May 2010

we're here to stay

a few weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday, i found myself near Baker Street. after meeting a friend in Regents Park, i walked back towards my first flat in London on Melcombe Street. i remembered the German bakery Breaco which had opened opposite my flat - they made good fresh bread and did decent coffee. they also had some yummy mini croissants (which other cafes in London should do). mathew and i had coffee there last year - we had admired some of their furniture (a standing back rest in particular which we almost ended up having at mooli's).

as i got closer to my old flat, i suddenly had this sinking feeling that Breaco was no more. there was no light on and then i saw all the unopened mail and flyers under the door. game over. all over the city, whenever a place shuts down, there is all this unopened mail.

it's a tough business, this. lots of really good places shut down in London. i was amazed to find that recently Cafe Macondo in hoxton square had shut down. when we first moved into 50 Frith Street, quite a few locals reminded us that there had been 14 different restaurants in the last 10 years at 50 Frith Street. Mark and Gavin, two brothers who have had an office in Soho (above the Nando's) for 16 years said 'we don't know if you guys will make it'.

slowly, during a very cold London winter, we realised that while our location was good, it was definitely not great. only people in the business and locals know this. Soho has so many streets and so many different ways to walk that you can miss it. and the footfall isn't amazing on Frith Street (Old Compton Street on the other hand is a different story). we also learnt that marketing was pretty tricky. unless you get lucky with a big splash in the metro/timeout/evening standard or similar, you've got a big task ahead of you. Simon Woodroffe warned us about this before we launched, but you need to experience some quiet evenings to really understand how hard it can be.

in the last six months, we've had some incredible mooli evangelists. normal everyday customers who have made it their mission to spread the mooli, much in the same way converted appple folk go on about the mac (seriously my MacBook Pro is a joy. so much so that i think the Buddha rests as comfortably in the MacBook Pro as in the petals of a flower). you could see it in their eyes - they really wanted us to make it. so that they could have mooli's of course. 'It's really getting busier now,' they would happily say.

there are so many people and stories. Mark from Hill & Knowlton (not to be confused with other Mark earlier in the post) went to the trouble to design an e-flyer for us. Joce, MD of Rushes made sure mooli's were had at lots of screenings and evening drinks - she also wrote in with some kinds words: '..the personal service and passion for the business you show and have, makes Moolis a unique experience. You know the food is great and made with passion and integrity.' Rohit, our mooli champion of the first three months, made sure he brought ALL his friends to mooli's, one by one. the countless number of customers who helped us run free promos for our local offices and made sure their colleagues came in to try one ('you have to have a mooli' they say).

without our mooli evangelists, we'd have had no chance. so thank you.

on St. George's day last month, Mark and Gavin were blasting loud music from their office and Soho was alive. Donald from the Karaoke box (who is addicted to the paneer mooli) popped by and said 'No one else in this location has generated all this buzz. Everyone is talking about you guys - I went to the Curzon and they all had mooli's.' later that evening, Mark came by for a mooli, and told us that 'it looked like we were going to make it.'

yup, we're here to stay.

16 May 2010

Genre Bending

This evening i watched Kick Ass. It took me back many years to when I first saw Pulp Fiction. Back then I knew that I was watching something very special. A new genre. A new space that Tarantino had carved out for himself. The old words and phrases just didnt do his style justice.

And so it was with Kick Ass. It felt Tarantino-esque, but it is so much more. I dont know the right words. I expect someone is creating new words to describe it.

When we decided to call a mooli a mooli, we had the same issue. The mooli isnt a burrito, or a wrap or a roll. So we created a new and catchy name. One that we could trademark and call our own.

And we dont badge ourselves "Indian street cuisine", because you will not get a mooli on the streets of India. Moolis are inspired by the streets of Allepey, Delhi, Goa...but Tokyo and London as well.

.......it took a while, but the word has caught on. On Friday we had a group of young Indie rockers. All seven of whom walked in and confidently ordered a "goat mooli" without even looking at the menu. Not a goat wrap, not a goat burrito, not a goat roll. They all wanted a Goat mooli.

11 May 2010


Mathew and I spent our Mooli's six month anniversary away from Mooli's (well, it was on a Sunday) - at the launch party of Chipotle in London. It was a very small affair and we were touched to have been invited by Sam Patel - who we've gotten to know because the Chipotle team love mooli's and order from us a lot.

It was fitting in many ways to spend our six month anniversary at the launch party because Chipotle has been one of our inspirations. anon nyc describes Mooli's to Americans in New York as 'Indian Chipotle' and they get it. We're definitely not Indian burritos but there is a lot we share with Mexican food and with Chipotle. We loved their line 'SLOW FOOD, FAST' the first time we saw it - it captures our beef, pork and goat mooli's so well. There's a lot of love and attention to detail which goes in to all our fillings. And with Chipotle, "food with integrity" isn't just a slogan. There is a real commitment to use naturally raised meats as well as natural ingredients. And this is largely due to the efforts of their founder and CEO, Steve Ells - even after 17 years and over 1,000 stores in the US. There is also a lovely simplicity about Chipotle's approach to design and their offering which we love.

Steve showed the world that not all chains are bad. And we were thrilled to meet him on Sunday. He even made Mathew's first ever Chipotle burrito!

The whole team was incredibly warm and friendly and have offered to show us around in New York. One day Mooli's will cross the Atlantic and go to New York. It might take many years but we'll get there. With integrity and freshly made rotis with no preservatives.

It's a small world. Today, an old customer Julie Falconer (who wrote a lovely piece about us ages ago) came back with some friends and I was talking to her about Chipotle and it turns out that Steve was her neighbour in the US!

On Monday, 10 May 2010 when Chipotle formally launched their first store in London, Steve was cooking away in their restaurant on Charing Cross Road... 17 years after he launched the first Chipotle in Denver, Colorado, in a former Dolly Madison Ice Cream Store near the University of Denver campus using an $85,000 loan from his father.

That is commitment for you.

PS: I loved their tacos BUT our bread is better. :P
PPS: I got drunk on their margaritas. :-O

27 April 2010

What a piece of work is a mooli

Today was hot. 22 degrees or so. And we were worried about whether our warm and flavoursome mooli's would have the same appeal.

Well, after a slightly slow start, we were busy as usual. Aided by our sexy new look with the windows drawn back and all.

By 2:30, I was hungry and I sunk my teeth into a beef mooli. And it was good. Very Good. The peppery spice of the braised beef beautifully offset by the grated coconut, cool raita and zingy onions, tomatoes and coriander. Ahhhh, so beautifully balanced. Still loving you.

After 5 months and 3 weeks of eating a mooli or 2 virtually everyday, its great to see that we still love this little invention of ours. We may not have paid as much attention to management accounts and gross margin calculations, but i'm glad we've paid so much attention to our core product. This may look like shameless marketing, but we cant help but be proud.

Mooli's Bite from whatlunchwhere on Vimeo.

07 April 2010

and btw, wat is lettuce doing in my roti?

Ok, we've used this blog, twitter and facebook publish lots of good things that people and reviewers have said about us. I think its only fair to also share some the bad stuff as well.

now, things i was not hapy abt..........the panner mooli is a total disaster! no words - perhaps the worst combo i ve ever tasted - sorry. who designed it and why this way? why grate a paneer to pieces! i think it totally kills the taste of paneer - have u seen people mashing cauliflower unless its in a soup say? i totally love the idea of having a paneer mooli but this combo is pathetic - i would rather have it with palak or peas or pudina or channa or mushrooms etc but adding paneer cubes and with some green chili as they go together very well. you might get some ideas here - http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Search.aspx?SearchText=paneer.

and btw, wat is lettuce doing in my roti? im really not sure if it goes adds to the taste rather watering down the taste of the moolis.

06 April 2010

Make Breakfasts Happen Boys

Friends and random readers, I have flirted with the keyboard, ummed and ahhed, lost some more hair, but enough is enough. It is now essential for the food market that mooli's launches a breakfast mooli that brings to the world the naked delights of an Indian omelette/scrambled egg wrapped in a fresh hot chappati. Their fears can be shot away by only serving it during the day. In my view this may be the plus point. I would, respectfully of course, urge our friends to seriously consider this. Below I have embeded some ideas for the breakfast mooli launch, all penned in an atmospheric blue. Bring it on. Please.

19 March 2010

What is a Mooli?

Thanks Catty!

07 March 2010

You've got the music in you

Sam saw it coming. The sun, the cusomers, us turning the corner.

This week people poured in to Mooli's like never before. They're trekking to Soho from Mayfair, Holborn, Croydon and Dorset. We've formed strong alliances with WhereCampEU and Asha. We look around and see folk from the Ivy, ByronBurger, Barrafina, QuoVadis, Giraffe, Chilango, Leon. The organisers of Harvest at Jimmy's want us at the festival because we are an "aspirational food" .

Suddenly I see, Suddenly I see, This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)Why the hell it means so much to me

But many times in the last few weeks, it felt like we were staring into an abyss, especially when the snow bucketed down really hard. But we've been tenacious (Jonny, we still remember your early advice to us "......you need to be incredibly tenacious to survive in this industry"). We kicked down doors when polite knocking didn't work. Sent mooli's to the City, film screenings and parties when it was too cold to venture out to Soho. Got into Esquire because Timeout couldnt be asked......created some heartwarming dhaal soups and brought back sacks of goat from Finsbury Park to launch the Goat Mooli.

But when the night is falling,
And you cannot find the light
If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight....You've got the music in you

Someday soon we'll open a branch in the City. and Canary Wharf. But for the time being we'll concentrate on Soho. I love Soho in Summer. Even Spring is gorgeous. And we'll try to take Mooli's on tour......Glastonbury, the Big Chill, WOMAD, Harvest at Jimmys .....we'd like to be showcased alongside Florence, the Zutons and Arctic Moneys. Coz we've got the music.

Don't let go, You've got the music in you
One dance left, This world is gonna pull through

02 March 2010

here comes the sun

or chutneys, spring and chess.

today, it was sunny. it almost felt like spring. we've had a hard winter with lots of learning but we're stronger now (thanks to some quiet evenings and lots of yummy mooli's).

in life and in business, you can often sense things. i think both mathew and i can feel the momentum. our whole team can. we're on to something here. raju, mathew and i (with a lot of help from moolita, family, friends and customers at the Sunday Upmarket) tried to create something really special and i think we are being rewarded by our loyal customers for being slightly unreasonable and going that extra distance - making fresh rotis everyday, making chutneys from scratch, slow-cooking for 6 hours. we had our best week last week and everyone's expectations (especially Raju's) are higher than ever.

this evening, after a very busy Monday lunch, here comes the sun was playing and i tweeted:

moolis here comes the sun.... that's whats playing @moolis just now. it really feels like spring is almost here....its been a long hard winter.

and then a twitter exchange with @ibzo.
ibzo @moolis bet it rains tomorrow
@ibzo no way! let's bet. if it rains, you win a goat mooli. if it doesn't, well you bring like 5 friends to mooli's!
ibzo @moolis throw in a kingfisher beer and we're talking :D
@ibzo ok done. our first bet on twitter. mathew may not be impressed!!
@moolis he'll get over it! COME ON RAIN!!

so we'll see if my gut (or my accuweather iphone app) is right. NO RAIN PLEASE. reminds me of shouting NO ACE PLEASE when you hold KK v. say AQ all in pre flop.

anyway, i'm glad to be writing on the blog again. today, shamyl, a regular customer and restaurateur who loves the pork mooli (better than the goat he says) told me twitter was great and stuff but we have to write on our blog. my uncle and aunt also reminded me last week. it's easy to procrastinate because there is simply so much to do. but tonight felt right so here we are.

the first title for this post was going to be: chutneys, spring and chess. we're holding a QYPE event on 14th March which we're very excited about. it's called Chess & Chutney at Mooli's. we're going to share some of our chutney secrets- Raju said to me last week - not the hot green one surely? but we'll be nice and spread the love. or the dry roasted red chillies with fresh green chillies and coriander.

i'm also looking forward to the chess side of things. we're going to play lots of blitz chess (and possibly even a small simultaneous).

it's a real shame that London has no equivalent to Washington Square Park (that's me hustling in New York!) or Harvard Square. maybe as the spring arrives, we'll leave that chess board outside with a clock and London will have a place to play chess (until maybe it moves to Soho Square).

the enterprising folks from London Chess Boxing have also thrown a smart prize in the ring: two ringside seats to their May event in London, complete with unique backstage access to meet competitors and organisers. now that's a crazy sport. chess AND boxing. round by round. i suspect if i beat the guy from London Chess Boxing, he's going to ask to box (or just start boxing rather). but we have a cunning plan (Eamon has offered to hold him).

so here's to spring, chess and chutneys. and mooli's winning its first bet on twitter tomorrow.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

04 February 2010

Going to start a Revolution....

Working @ Mooli's today, I felt like we were at the centre of a revolution, a haven for a number of young techies and entrepreneurs. Chaitanya and his fellow Expedians (pictured above) who love their goat mooli. 18 year old James Proud swung by twice. Founder of Giglocator, he loves his chicken mooli without any apple, tomatoes or salad and spends his days negotiating deals with behemoths like [NAMES REMOVED AT THE REQUEST OF JAMES AS THEY ARE TOP SECRET]. He introduced us to Chris & Ed, the founders of Wikijob. Alick from Spotify swung by for lunch. A simple dhaal soup with roti for him. Spotify was made for me.

Jack Huang, founder of DealBunch was here with a bunch of entrepreneurs from LBS for their monthly catchup, including Carlo who started GelatoMio. As was Rajesh Chandy, Prof of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at LBS drawing all the obvious comparisons between us and Chipotle. The beef mooli hit all the right notes for him. Of course it would, he is from Kerala.

And there was Brojo, who started a mobile phone advertising company when he was 21, before most of us even had mobile phones.

We had a few more disillusioned lawyers who wanted to chat with S&M before taking the plunge themselves.....

This is Social Media Week in London, and we are priviliged to be a part of it. Thanks Bumsy, Chirdeep, Farhan, Sherene and Anon NYC for showing us the way.

In between all of this, we managed to sell quite a few mooli's, mojitos and kingfisher beers. More than any previous Wednesday.......

16 January 2010


Just thought it would be fun to include a few reactions to our mooli's (especially the GO GO GOAT MOOLI) extracted from twitter. Start from the bottom...

ibzo had my second goat mooli from @moolis in three days. i'm addicted. will blog about it soon.

cr @farhan isn't the chicken halal @moolis? Gotta agree with you though Farhan, goat mooli is one to keep :D.

farhan @chirdeep @moolis Goat mooli is a must keep ;) It's the only halal meat mooli they have at the moment ;) And I'm grateful they have it! ;)

chirdeep Thinking of @moolis and the beta release of the goat mooli. Should go to approve/disapprove soon.

chaitanyakuber @moolis nom nom nom

sherenejose @moolis i'll be there to sample some this evening :D

adelecompanymag @moolis lovely lunch at moolis as recommended by my art team... next time i will remember to order the lush brownies too!

farhan http://twitpic.com/y6ghn - the goat @moolis are so yummy, I had to have another one..

vicchi http://twitpic.com/y68w9 - Trying out the goat special from @moolis on Frith Street. Delicious!

sigizmund Been at @moolis - had some great food and free mint tea just for tweeting about it. Sounds like something I can do on daily basis!

kreidekreis Great lunch today @moolis (50 Frith St) - fantastic food, friendly staff - well worth a visit! ... http://schmap.it/G8mqDm?a

chaitanyakuber Best mooli yet! Try the goat mooli @moolis. #soho #londonfood

cr RT @moolis @cr described our masala chai as christmas in a drink! - its like mince pies and mulled wine. Mmm!

ibzo oh my goat. had a goat mooli from @moolis earlier. it was an absolute triumph, well done to the great guys there. go get one soon

TheBuddhaSmiled @moolis - what's this I hear? Proper goat meat, here in Central London? Have I died and gone to foodie heaven?

helenmusic mmmmmmmm the new goat mooli is delicious, i can confirm. another triumph for @moolis !!

tloghal The goat at @moolis is only there for a month (poor animal). So goat in there (sorry).

abiCompanyMag Love @moolis - the best lunch in soho!

TanitaM new favourite place for lunch @moolis Go there now!!

anilmathew @londoneating Just has the goat mooli @moolis - tasted amazing. Definitely my favourite mooli now!!! Worth trying out :-)

LambshankRdmptn @Screenjabber Slow roasted, unapologetically spicy. In a sandwich. A winner from @Moolis

Goodforlunch @moolis never done goat! I'll have to stop by

LambshankRdmptn Ok world. I've got to be in Soho for a film at 1:15. Anyone fancy a goat @moolis around midday?

Moolis Gemma I think Soho is about to GO GO Goat

12 January 2010


To : Gemma <gemma@gemmamasseypr.co.uk>
cc : Sameer Singh <sameer@moolis.com>;
cc: Raju Rawat <raju@moolis.com>;

date: Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 1:01 AM
Re: Metro

This evening Raju made a batch of goat mooli's for Sam, Fran, Vrinda and myself. I dont have the words to describe it. But I must because we promised to send you some info about it so that we can send it to the journalists and food bloggers.

I think we have it. A mooli to melt the last remnants of snow. A mooli to entice the shoppers from Oxford Street, the clubbers from Old Compton Street and the bankers from Fleet Street.

The recipe is Sam's grandmothers. She wishes she could be in London to see Mooli's in action. She called to remind Sam that the meat needs to be braised together with bones, and that it in addition to the smoky flavour of dry roasted red chillies it needed the fiery kick of fresh green chillies. Sam nodded in agreement. He has been making this dish for many years now and it is legendary amongst the Rhodes scholars of Oxford. And Raju has made it even better than the real thing.

So why does Mooli's want to do a goat mooli? Because goat is the meat we Indians cook best. Much better than any Carribean goat curry. Goat meat is leaner than chicken and has more protein than beef. And I haven't even mentioned the medicinal properties of the turmeric.

The meat is succulent and bursting with flavour from the dry roasted cumin, coriander, cloves, chillies and cinnamon. Flavours that are distinctly Punjabi. The potatoes sauteed with dry mango and cumin are the perfect foil. Red onions, tomatoes, fresh coriander and lime juice add a dash of zing. All of this cocooned in lovely wholemeal rotis made at 50 Frith Street by Moolita. GEMMA I THINK SOHO IS ABOUT TO GO GO GOAT.

The goat mooli is best accompanied by our newest cocktail - the pomegranate and chilli mojito.

Did someone mention winter blues?


PS: thankyou goat anon

06 January 2010

Concerning moustaches and other facial hair growth

As a young, precocious and, some would say, beautiful child on the South East Essex junior debating circuit, there was a question that always fascinated me. Why were all (or many of) the poverty stricken people that were on TV (documentaries etc) not sporting beards, given the food retaining abilities of facial growth in times of hunger? I returned to this question recently as I began to ponder the advantages and disadvantages of facial hair. For your correspondent, there are only advantages.

Snack nestling

I have mentioned this benefit already. Consider this everyday scenario. Your have just fought your way through the queues to find a cramped place on the tube. Partly through boredom, partly through the unintended effort of getting on the train, you are suddenly in need of a snack. Even if you have a quaker bar in your purse or man-bag, you are too cramped in the tube to reach for it. Perhaps you are a bit embarrassed to eat a whole bar in public. Perhaps the last Rolo (TM) in your pocket has become squashed and the caramel is now hard. The solution is a quick shuffle of the tongue away. In your lovely beard there nestles a bit of the muesli from this morning. Fantastic.

The relationship enhancer

Many women will tell you that a beard is off-putting. That is understandable given that no one (except my ex ex ex) really wants to kiss a bristly surface (although there is a solution to this: use conditioner on your beard). But there is an indirect benefit in entering a relationship with a beard. You see, a true sign of the evolution of any relationship is not just being nice and good to each other but also knowing you can be frank, ask for things and even argue. Of course if one can have a soft disagreement rather than a hard one, then the breakthrough to this more mature relationship can be negotiated happily. What better way to make this breakthrough than let your young lady request that you shave? Much better than having to argue or being told you are fat, too flirtatious etc.

The best short term slimming pill in the world

With a properly contoured box beard (or goatee), your face is effectively elongated. And this provides a slimming effect, which you can profit from whilst you get down to actually losing some weight.


For the perennial wimp or wimp looking person, there is no faster way to add a veneer of hardness or mystique than to, yes you have guessed it, grow some facial hair. I can't explain why facial hair has that effect. Perhaps it is the instant message it gives: " if he can't be bothered to shave and is such a deviant may be he is capable of other more dangerous things".

I do hope that our friends at Mooli's recognise these advantages and regularly give away a free mooli to the important constituency of facial hair growers.

03 January 2010

The Mooli's disloyalty card

London has recently benefited greatly from a coffee revolution. You can now get a great cup of coffee, and hence I no longer crave the glorious South Indian filter coffee that I grew up on in Bangalore.

Today, I had the pleasure of drinking a Gibraltar at Tina, we Salute You in Newington Green. It was fantastic. Even better, was the discovery of the Disloyalty Card. If you go and drink coffee at 8 interesting, quality focused cafes in the East End then Gwilym Davies himself (World Barista Champion) will make you a free cup of coffee at Prufrock Coffee.

And it struck me. This could be a great way to pay homage to some great restaurants and cafes that have inspired Sam and myself as we walked and cycled the streets of London planning Mooli's.

If you have eaten or imbibed at all of the following then come in and have a mooli on us, anytime this week. We arent going to print disloyalty cards, but will take your word for it.

Lantana Cafe, Timeout's pick for the Best New Cafe of 2009. Thank you Shelagh
Taqueria, because Dodie makes fabulous corn tortillas
Fernandez & Wells, for giving us the stumpy
Monmouth, need we say anything?
Hummus Bros, I would never have given (Chick) Peas a Chance. Christian you've been incredible

Maoz, for being the only good on-the-go food option on Old Compton Street
Milk Bar, for being even better than the original Flat White
Benitos Hat, thanks Ben for proving that lawyers can cut it