Everyone was off for an Indian and the BYOB policy meant we were in for a heavy night. A trip to Tesco left everyone with crates of beer and wine whilst I straggled behind with my single bottle of Tesco’s finest nosecco. I was particularly grateful for my antibiotics as this was the first night I could have been tempted to break my sober stint and have a night off.
Interacting with drunk people whilst being sober is a key skill to possess, and definitely not one I’d previously mastered, so I was curious to see how much I would enjoy it and whether it would be boring. Turns out, sipping on a few glasses of nosecco whilst eating completely satisfied me! The energy was high, and the conversation flowed, and, although everyone was slowly getting more and more drunk, it almost felt like I was too. By instinct, I finished my bottle (what a lot of grape juice) and I had felt a similar satisfaction as I would have from polishing off a bottle of wine.
The nosecco didn’t taste exactly like prosecco, but by drinking it out of the champagne flute, my mind was able to transport me to an alcohol-soaked destination. The carbon dioxide infused grape juice made my taste buds tingle as their cravings for alcohol were satisfied by the placebo effect. It was very sweet, and it was best to try and not smell it, but it was the perfect replacement as everyone else was drinking.
I will definitely try a nosecco night again this month as I continue my sobriety and I would even recommend it to others who are attempting the same thing. I was able to feel like I was joining in whilst maintaining myself and it’s fair to say, socialising with drunk people whilst sober is not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be!
“In 2014, founder Nisha Katona had a nagging obsession to build an eatery serving the kind of food Indians eat at home and on their streets.”
Walking into the Cardiff branch of Mowgli, we were met with a dazzling spectacle of fairy lights and warm colour. The staff were so incredibly welcoming and helpful that we couldn’t help but feel instantly at home in this treasure cave. On their website they describe themselves as “not about the intimate, hushed dining experience [but] about the smash and grab zing of healthy, light, virtuosic herbs and spices.” This became apparent when sitting amongst the warm light as it felt like we were all together, enjoying a family meal.
The smells coming from the kitchen flirted with our senses as our eyes flickered upon their menu, swaying our temptation and making our mouths water. The menu is so interestingly varied it was so hard to pinpoint what we wanted. After much deliberation, and some help from the waiting staff, we opted to share; yoghurt chat bombs, the ruby wrap, gunpowder chicken, one of the office worker’s tiffin and some roti.
The yoghurt bombs were the first to arrive and set an extremely high standard for the evening. The Pani puri spheres held a perfect mixture of spiced yogurt, creating a beautifully cool sensation in the mouth. They were topped with pomegranate seeds, adding a refreshing sharp after taste which complimented the spicy tang well. The only regret we had was scoffing them straight away and not saving them for when the rest of the food arrived, as they would have acted as an ideal relief from the harsher spices of the curries.
The gunpowder chicken is described as a spiced chicken popper in a gluten free chickpea batter, and they were unlike any battered chicken I had ever tested. I can’t recall ever trying chickpea batter before, but after this experience, I would be reluctant to shy away from it if I ever see it on the menu. The chicken was succulent, the batter was crisp and the coriander and basil accompaniments were perfectly balanced, what more could you want?
The paneer in the ruby wrap was juicy and delicious and matched the “rainbow of Mowgli chutneys” well. I absolutely adore paneer in Asian cooking and this dish did not disappoint. However, if you are one of those unfortunate enough to not enjoy the taste of coriander, this dish is not for you as it was scattered in abundance!
The curries we were given in our tiffin box were; Temple dahl, House chicken curry and Mowgli House Keema with a side of rice. The sauce from the chicken curry was my favourite and suited their description of “tame but tantalising”. I love a Keema and it is rarely seen on the menu, so I was really excited to try it. It was rich in flavour and almost reminiscent of Lebanese cooking due to the domination of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. I think of a keema as relatively dry curry due to the cohesion of the meat and sauce as one, so I was pleased we had ordered roti to go with it. The Temple Dahl was not my favourite as the lentils had a little more bite and the sauce was little wetter than I would have liked, however, the flavour was still delicious. I enjoyed the presence of the roti and they went down well, but they were a bit thin and my partner and I both agreed that we prefer a thicker flat bread.
The overall meal was stunning and a really enjoyable experience. The setting was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the staff were attentive and friendly. Although the curries were delicious, I favoured the street food dishes and when I return, I will be eager to sample as many more as I can! I would recommend this restaurant to anyone and I cant wait to show it to all my friends and family!