Imagine a banker or a lawyer of a top London firm. Do you picture them in a suit and tie, a briefcase and some files? Probably so. What you wouldn’t associate with them is a casual demeanour, love for food and the need to do something more “real and creative”. But that’s exactly what Mathew Chandy and Sameer Singh set off to do following stints at Linklaters and UBS.
Welcome to Mooli’s, the place for “delicious and zingy roti rolls”. That’s how Mathew and Sameer describe their brainchild. Nestled on a road off Piccadilly Circus—one of London’s hubs for the best theatres and food joints—Mooli’s isn’t your typical Indian food-on-the-go kind of restaurant. It has numerous attributes, not least its reasonable pricing that makes it hugely popular particularly with the health conscious lot.
“It’s fast food, with freshly-cut vegetables, nuts and spices, which promotes Indian fast food in a healthy way,” says Mathew, co-founder of the restaurant, about what sets apart Mooli’s from the other take-away options available nearby.
Mooli’s is unique in its operations—at any point, it serves just six types of moolis, or in other words wraps and rolls, but there is a reason behind this, says Mathew. “We want to focus on a small menu but be the best in that. Specialisation in serving the best moolis is essential to be recognised,” he says.
The idea behind keeping the menu small and unique was inspired by a visit to Japan. When Sameer took a trip to the far-east country, he was wooed by the consistency and perfection at small Japanese restaurants. These catered exclusively to one form of traditional Japanese food, but the taste and flawlessness was a force to reckon with. That’s when the concept of Mooli’s came into force.
“We wanted to name the restaurant something Indian, but with a catchy feel to it. Mooli’s fit because it was a short and memorable word that lends itself to the idea behind it—small and perfect,” says Mathew.
The need to provide people with a different experience at the restaurant fuelled the appointment of Raju Rawat as head chef. Raju, who is also one of the co-founders, came on board with plenty of experience. Originally from Delhi, Raju trained at the Oberoi chain of hotels in India, before moving to London. There, he worked under the auspices of a Michelin star chef at a top Indian restaurant, before joining Sameer and Mathew to realise their culinary dreams.
“We were often ashamed of what the British crowd thought about Indian food—that it wasn’t vibrant in flavour and unhealthy. We wanted to change that and bring them food that was full of flavour and influence, with a healthy way of life,” says Mathew.
Since its opening in 2009, the concept of Mooli’s has captured attention. On a busy weekday, the restaurant sells at least around 250 moolis in a span of three hours. With just about six types of moolis on the menu, it helps to serve quality food in a fast way.
Its typical menu consists of moolis stuffed with either mutton, pork, chicken or beef. Vegetarians can choose between paneer or chickpea mooli. Often, the meal comes with a bowl of daal, along with some of its delicious chutneys.
Not to be outdone by specials offered at other restaurants (many have one special dish everyday), Mooli’s does things in a different way. Special occasions, such as Diwali, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even the World Cup match, saw the restaurant offering a special type of mooli to go with the event.
A brainstorming session and a list of ingredients later, Raju is often left to devise the specials—not a particularly hard task for the professionally trained chef. Dishes, he says, are usually inspired from their home-cooked food, with a touch of modernity added to it.
Thanks to Sameer and Mathew’s roots in Kerala, Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore, and add to that Raju’s culinary magic touch, it is no wonder that Mooli’s is decidedly zingy.
Address: 50 Frith St Westminster, W1D 4, United Kingdom,
Phone: 020 7494 9075