I don’t eat Indian food at restaurants often, not because I dislike them, but because I cook (and eat) Indian food at home regularly and the dishes that I make are often lower in calories too (isn’t that true of most home-made food?). Every now and then, however, I do eat Indian food at restaurants when the friends I am meeting are keen to do so. That is how I ended up at Moti Mahal Delux (in the Upper East Side) which earned 2 stars (above average) from the NY Times and am wondering if it really deserves 2 stars (1 may be sufficient).
Moti Mahal is an Indian restaurant group that operates on a franchise model. But there are two – this one and this one. They both have similar histories and similar business models. I have no idea which one if either the NYC Moti Mahal is a part of. A heads-up to the readers of this post:
- I have not eaten the food at any Moti Mahal in India (not that I remember anyway)
- I am no expert of Mughlai food
- There are very few pictures in this post, so you will have to read this post completely
The food at Moti Mahal Delux NYC is overall very good, although I do not think that the food is the best that Indian restaurants in NYC can offer and yet I would still go back to Moti Mahal. I prefer the food at Junoon (has one Michelin Star) and I will write about that in another post (at some point!).
Here is what is unique about Moti Mahal:
- Gol Gappa shots are offered on the menu as an appetizer. We love the gol gappa shots, although the four shot glasses had different volumes of the tangy-sweet brown (tamarind and date / jaggery) and spicy green (mint, cilantro, green chile) liquids, so, one of us got a tangy sweet shot, and one got a very spicy shot. If made well, this is likely to be a super-hit mocktail, at the very least with the Indians. In case you are interested, see this recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor
- Okra Pakoras are offered as an appetizer. I have not seen this listed on the menu of many Indian restaurants that I have been to. The okra was sliced thin, dipped in chick pea batter and fried, but were not crispy enough for my taste. I do not relish limp, soggy pakoras. See this recipe if you would like to know how to make them.
We ordered very standard dishes. Read below for my thoughts on them:
- Murg Tandoori (Tandoori chicken) as an appetizer. This was excellent and great with some Kingfisher beer (as Tandoori chicken is always)
- MMD (Moti Mahal Delux) Signature dish (we chose Shrimp Masala) – was very spicy and tangy
- Palak Paneer was extremely bland and under-salted in my opinion. With some more salt, and some tomatoes, this would have been great, so, I did what I thought fixed the dish – i.e., included some of the gravy from the Shrimp Masala with the spinach!
- Tamater Pudina Raita met expectations. It had the right consistency, had adequate salt and enough tomatoes and dried mint leaves (pudina) for the correct flavor
- Onion kulcha, garlic naan and tandoori roti met expectations as well.
If I were to go to Moti Mahal again, I will get the Tandoori chicken as a main course, and try some of their desserts – either the kesar kulfi or the ras malai. If you are in NYC, please try the food at Moti Mahal and tell me if I missed anything special there.