I first discovered the joy of Mowgli one rainy evening in Manchester earlier this year. An enjoyable experience, I was won over by the pretty interior and wholesome flavours, so when the Birmingham branch opened in October my fond memories made a visit inevitable. Grabbing some foodie friends for a post-wedding debrief, we headed to Grand Central in search of delicious dishes and a laid back dining experience; happily we found both.
Mowgli is the latest addition to the city’s Indian street food scene, that seems to have exploded in Brum this year. Following the colourful launch of Tamatanga, this new offering is a little more grown up, with a varied but concise menu. There may be less to choose from (not necessarily a bad thing!) but there’s plenty of options with some quirky additions that will make you forget Tikka Masala even exists.
The Mowgli philosophy is picky plates, with the idea the you order 2-3 dishes tapas style. Getting stuck in like the human dustbin that I am, I opted for a trio of contrasting dishes including a vegan and veggie option – something I’m more inclined to do when eating Indian food it must be said.
Arriving first the Angry Bird (£6.25) boasts 2 juicy and tender chicken thighs marinated and roasted in tandoor spices, garlic, creamy yoghurt and zingy ginger. Served with popped mustard Mowgli Slaw (this stuff is the business; you can also order it separately) the boneless chicken pieces fell apart once the crispy skin had been pulled apart. Delicious and filling, although I’d have liked more of the garlic flavour to come through.
Next up the Bhel Puri (£4.50) is the stuff of street food dreams. Puffed rice is tossed with crisp gram threads, peanuts and a spiced sweet and sour dressing to form a weird but wonderful vegan concoction that feels both slightly wrong and very right. I loved the contrasting flavours, the soft yet sticky, chewy texture, and that this was a totally new dish to me. Bombay mix with the volume turned up! Get a bowl to share; it’s a lot for one person and gets a little sickly.
Finally, the Temple Dahl (£3.95) arrived, and removing the tin tiffin lid I was greeted by a thick stew of red lentils simmered with spices and lemon. The fragrant toasted cumin and coriander ensured the rich dahl – a menu favourite I’m told – packed a warm but gentle hit upon first taste. The glorious orange colour made it a treat for the eyes too.
With service as warm as the spices the chefs sprinkle across the dishes, and a pretty (and deceptively large) dining space ideal for friends to share food, this is a lovely addition to Grand Central. I’ve left mildly obsessed with the twinkley white lights in jars and am honestly about one Pinterest board away from trying to deck my pad out like this joint. The swinging chair window seats are also a seriously a cute addition.
There’s a homemade/homely vibe to the food and decent options for all dietary requirements, including vegan, so I’ve no doubt it’ll be super popular. The food does come out as and when it’s ready, like wagamama, so be prepared to eat in sections rather than as a more formal Indian meal.
Mowgli Street Food, Grand Central, Birmingham, B2 4BW
*Disclosure: We paid in full. All opinions, lighting envy and saucy pics are mine*