I’ve always had a love for sake…
Okay, that was maybe a bit of a lie, as my love for it probably only started to develop during my Koya Backbench days. Sake and Japanese cuisine totally made sense to me, but Sake and Indian cuisine? – I was intrigued to find out more.
Founded in Delhi over four decades ago in 1959, Moti Mahal which opened in London in 2005, is known to be one of London’s finest modern Indian restaurants. Headed by Chef Anirudh Arora, the menu focuses on the cuisine of the Grand Trunk Road. It has been a while since I last had some good Indian cuisine, and this particular evening looked and sounded really promising, as I hungrily browsed through the menu.
The selection of sake that we sampled that evening was specially selected by sake connoisseur and Head of Beverages at Moti Mahal, Barry McCaughley.
The first course was the Chukander Ka Salad, a light dish which consisted of thinly sliced roasted beetroots and peanuts, minted potatoes, green peas and stuff peppers which had a slight hint of spiciness to it.
This was paired with Fukukomachi Junmai Daiginjo from the Kimura Brewery Inc.
A beautifully balanced sake, it is made with premium sake rice, Yamadanishiki, which is polished to 40%.
The second course was Barra Peshwari and Keema Naan. The lambchops were really tender and beautifully seasoned with caraway seed and Kashmiri chillies, served with mooli raita and avocado chutney. The tandoori naan bread was nice and warm and stuffed with spiced lamb mince.
This was paired with Fukukomachi Daiginjo, also from Kimura Brewery. As opposed to the first sake, this was slightly drier and had a bit more punch to it.
The next course was Murgabi – delicious chunks of pheasant stir fried with Malabar spices with a side of sweet and spicy pickled partridge. We had this with Tandoor baked breads and stir fried Okra – I haven’t had Okra in a while, so I was definitely loving this accompaniment.
This was paired with Akita Shurui Seizoh Takashimizu Honjozo. The brewery is located in the heart of the Akita prefecture, where the area’s water has been regarded as the purest in Japan since the Samurai period.
“Takashimizu” literally means “High spring water”, and the range is named after the hill on which the ancient Akita castle once stood.
A well-balanced sake known for its smooth velvety texture and strong, savoury finish.
The fourth course was a rice dish, named Lahori Macchi Pulao. We were each served a generous serving of basmati rice which had been cooked with baby red mullet, curry leaf and pounded spices. The fish had a lovely, delicate texture, and the rice was beautifully seasoned, served with some cooling raita on the side.
The sake paired with this dish was Gozenshu 9 nama (“Mountain Stream”), and unpasteurised sake made using the ancient bodaimoto technique, resulting in more rugged, earthy qualities, alongside the fresh and fruity elements in it.
It was served in a sake flask with two small cups which we were advised to pour the sake for each other, which is a common custom in Japan.
The final course was dessert, Ananas Ka Meetha, which was pineapple carpaccio served with plum and port wine sorbet. This sweet and refreshing delight was paired with Ume No Yado Aragoshi Umeshu.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Moti Mahal – the food was delicious with good levels of spice, and the sake was a nice accompaniment to be enjoyed alongside the feast that we had. I’ll definitely be considering sake as my choice of beverage more often in future.
The Cheekster, signing out x