Food Reviews

Impact Food: Mowgli

As a lover of all things fun and quirky I had been desperate to enter Mowgli, the Indian Street Food restaurant that boasts swings for seats and fairy lights galore. Situated on a lively Lace Market corner sporting street circus acts and steel pan music, the atmosphere of Mowgli resonates with its namesake – the high spirited child from The Jungle Book – holding no sense of stuffy formalism and instead giving the impression of something to be enjoyed with friends and family.

“There was not a single thing on the menu I would not have eaten”

The menu itself reflects this air of light-heartedness; two particular favourites of mine being the vegetarian dish titled ‘Holy Chow’ and the slightly disconcerting dish ‘Angry Bird’. It is worth mentioning that this restaurant accommodates for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets, possessing individual menus for each that are by no means scarce or bland as is so often the case with specialist requirements.

As a party of five, we were able to order an array of foods and share in a tapas-style (it is common for my family to want to share and I would recommend doing so as it not only means you get to experiment, but it also means you can devour a large portion of your sister’s curry without being yelled at). There was not a single thing on the menu I would not have eaten, and the appeal of the words ‘treacle fries’ was one impossible to miss. Despite the alarmingly unhealthy connotations surrounding those two foods, Mowgli is famous for its mantra of being healthy, home/street inspired Indian food and it was easy to notice the distinct lack of takeaway grease.

After a challenging decision making-process, we ordered; Yoghurt Chat Bombs, Gunpowder Chicken, Treacle Tamarind Fries, Mowgli Sticky Wings, Holy Chow (I had to), Mowgli Paneer, Mowgli Slaw and Puri. Despite the detailed descriptions to each dish, I failed to read that of my humorously named ‘Holy Chow’ so was rather surprised when a potato, chickpea, tomato and spinach curry turned up within a loaf of bread… It was definitely not a day to avoid carbs. Sipping on my mango lassi (a must for any Indian restaurant), the food came out bit by bit, a common trope for this chain as it comes out “when its ready” to ensure freshness.

“It took physical restraint to deter hungry forks from ruining the spectacle before I could photograph it”

Each dish was beautifully seasoned and presented, so much so that it took physical restraint to deter hungry forks from ruining the spectacle before I could photograph it. For those of you who quiver at the thought of spicy food, Mowgli can still be the spot for you as the flavours ranged from luxuriously sweet without any spice (the sticky wings are exactly as you would imagine) to the more traditional heat of the Holy Chow which was a pleasant tingle rather than an overpowering monstrosity.

For those less inclined towards meat, the Paneer (a type of Indian cheese) and Puri (a fried flatbread, equivalent perhaps to the Yorkshire Pudding in their significance as a special dish) complimented each other beautifully, with the smooth creamy yet tomato-ey flavours of the Paneer sauce magnifying the soft crunch of the Puri. My other favourite was the Yoghurt Chat Bombs. These are hard to describe, but if you picture a thin crunchy pastry shell filled with yoghurt and mango chutney in perfect proportions, adorned with pomegranate and a sprinkling thin crispy sticks, you’ll be somewhere near the mark of these little taste explosions (hence their apt name).

“A perfect mix of salty with a hint of spice”

It is now that I should mention the Treacle Fries were slightly anticlimactic, yet by no means un-tasty. The flavours were rich and sweet, smothering small potato wedges in a soft yet dense mouthful that was, after a few bites, rather overpowering. The Gunpowder Chicken was, on the flip side, better than anticipated. The chicken being a near unanimous family favourite (save my Paneer-obsessed self) was a perfect mix of salty with a hint of spice, and sadly that is all I can tell you of this dish as it was devoured before I could take more than a bite – one downside to sharing is the speed at which one must eat the food.

“The lively atmosphere of Mowgli is one I would thoroughly recommend”

Suitably bloated and not feeling as agile as the seat-swings had initially made me feel, the meal concluded, coming to a reasonable price. It must be noted that sharing and select choices of food can make a meal at Mowgli less expensive and the smaller dishes are definitely substantial enough to fill a student belly. We left with taste buds buzzing to the sound of steel pan music, vowing to return to this fairy-lit wooden jungle of a place, determined to order the rest of the menu. If you want something authentic, different, varied and extremely accommodating, the lively atmosphere of Mowgli is one I would thoroughly recommend. If not just to experience eating whilst sitting on a swing, watched by a stylish cartoon monkey drawing.

9/10 (because I didn’t actually get to sit on a swing and I’m slightly bitter about it…)

Phoebe Raine

Walk-in any time from Sun-Wed 12-9:30pm Thurs-Sat 12-10:30pm.

Featured images courtesy of Phoebe Raine. 

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