If you’ve eaten at – or tried in vain to get a table – at the highly praised London restaurants Hoppers and Gymkhana, then you should be extremely interested in the Indian delivery service Motu Indian Kitchen from the same stable.
One of the new breed of delivery-only kitchens operating via Deliveroo, Motu, whose name is derived from the affectionate Hindi term for Fat Man, is based out of four kitchens – Islington, Battersea, Canary Wharf and Swiss Cottage, thus covering a large swathe of the city.
Their schtick is home-style Indian food, with a nod to the dabbawalas of India, who traditionally deliver a packed meal for workers across Indian cities in tiffin tins. The menu is abbreviated – no endless lists of variations of kormas/jalfrezis/dhansaks/biryianis/vindaloos with suspiciously similar looking gravies and lumps of mystery meat, with a focus on doing a few things properly, with distinct spicing, proper heat, and restaurant quality food. So think tandoori chicken wings, lamb shank roganjosh, and chicken tikka masala, no puddles of ghee, and no universal saucing.
There are also a few Indo-Chinese specials, including Chilli Chicken, and an excellent Chilli Paneer, (green pepper, chilli, garlic, and a mixture of Indian and Chinese spicing). I discovered the joy of this hybrid cooking on my first visit to India. Aged nineteen, on the first night of my GAP year, naive beyond reason and holed up in the colonial splendour of Delhi’s Hotel Imperial, thanks to a parental cheque stuffed into the clammy paw of my travelling companion at Heathrow, I ordered Chinese food from room service, hoping to swerve chilies. (I thought I hated Indian food.)
The tray of food that arrived blew my head (and bottom) off. I had never eaten anything like it but, after my digestive tract had recovered, it set me off on a path of spice discovery and inculcated in me an enduring love for the food of South Asia.
My first experience of Motu was a supper for two, ranging across the menu (as above), as arranged by their PR – and sent it to me by Uber, rather than on the back of a Deliverop bike, and it was a great experience. Delivery on time, perfectly cooked and spiced beyond everyday British taste, with lots of complex heat and bags of flavour.
In fact I liked everything they sent so much that I’ve been back for more twice since on my own dime, ordering the Saag Paneer main course (£9) second time around, and Paneer Butter Masala the third, and can report that there was absolutely no difference to the quality, taste or presentation when my supper arrived on the back of a bike – as opposed to being tenderly loaded onto the passenger seat of an Uber by the chef himself.
I’ve become a big fan of the Feast Box for one for £16/two for £32 – which contains one or two main dishes of choice, kachumber raita, pappadums, mango chutney, naan breads and pilau rice, and, as some one who likes to order a lot of sides, which can quickly inflate the bill, I really like the clever idea of their all-in side combo for £6.50, containing Bombay aloo, samosa chat and tadka dahl – above. (Don’t expect a crispy samosa – made pappy by the sauce, it’s more of a delicious splodge.)
The only downside? Deliveroo lost my order first time out, marking it as delivered whilst I was still standing in my hallway, awaiting its arrival and chomping at the bit at the thought of that fluffy garlic naan.
And therein always lies the issue with any delivery service – the restaurant can make the food as delicious as they like, but you can’t legislate for someone nicking your order.