I’m always up for mashups. Food, music, whatever, but it has to be done well.
So I was extremely intrigued when the team at Moti Mahal invited me down for their Sake & Spice event.
Moti Mahal was founded more than forty years ago in Delhi. Their London branch is located right near Covent Garden, and they specialise in Indian dishes that emphasize traditional techniques – mostly street-style tandoori dishes.
I’m always up for Indian food, but when I found out that every course would be paired with a different sake, I knew this was an event I couldn’t miss.
Sake is brewed like a beer, with four ingredients – rice, koji, yeast and water. There is usually no vintage – sake is designed to be drunk within 1 or 2 years of bottling, and should be drunk like a wine. My favourite fact about sake is how it tends to enhance the flavour of food, unlike other forms of alcohol – and we really put that theory to the test at Moti Mahal!
Our first course was the Chukander Ka salad – a roasted beetroot and peanut salad that was served with stuffed peppers, minted potatoes and green peas.
This was served with my favourite sake of the evening – a Kimura Fukukomachi Junmai Daiginjo, a premium sake that had a slightly fruity taste to it.
Our next course was the Barra Peshwari – my favourite dish of the evening. These delicious lamb chops were served with caraway seed, Kashmiri chillies, mooli raita and avocado chutney, and were paired with a Kimura Fukukomachi Daiginjo sake. This sake was also a premium sake, and had a lovely light and subtly fruity flavour – not overly harsh, as I find some sake varieties can be.
Next up was a Murgabi, served with Teetar and a side of stir-fried okra. Murgabi is a pheasant dish that has been stir fried with Malabar spices – this was so exquisite, especially with the sweet and spicy pickled partridge. The partridge Teetar was like nothing I’d never tried before, but the flavours were really wonderful. This was served with a Akita Shurui Seizoh Takashimizu Honjozo – this sake seemed more familiar to me than the others: I must admit, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did the first two.
The next dish was the Lahori Macchi Pulao – baby red mullet cooked with basmati rice, curry leaf and pounded spice and served with raita. This was paired with the Gozenshu 9 ‘Mountain Stream’ Junmai Nama Bodaimoto.
The dessert was a pineapple carpaccio served with plum and port wine sorbet – definitely underwhelming, although the umeshu (plum wine) it was paired with was absolutely divine. I might need to get a bottle of Ume No Yado Aragoshi Umeshu when I’m back in Japan next month!
Overall, the experience was absolutely incredible. Barry, the Beverage Manager, is so knowledgable about the topic – it was great to get some tips (as well as try some of the gin he makes himself!) It was unlike any other pairing I’ve tried in the past, and the combination of Indian flavours with Japanese sake was an unusual one – but one I’d definitely try again.
Even if you can’t try one of their Sake & Spice events, Moti Mahal is worth popping into for the food, which is really delicious. I’d definitely recommend the lamb chops – it’s definitely worth popping into (and avoid the chains in Covent Garden)!