MELBOURNE | Mukka Fitzroy is a relative newcomer to Melbourne’s Indian food scene, having opened at the end of 2015. It’s been operating under the radar but slowly word has been getting out that Mukka is a place that lovers of good Indian food want to visit. The City Lane was invited by Prateek Dhawan, who owns the restaurant with his brother Aditya, to come and sample some of the things on the menu. Mukka means “punch” and the food here aims to pack a punch of spice, flavour and freshness. Prateek told us that the philosophy at Mukka is to keep things simple and real. All spices are ground in house on a regular basis so they don’t lose their aroma and all of the curries, chutneys, sauces etc are made fresh each day.
The venue is colourful and playful, with an eclectic mix of Western and Indian music permeating the background. Indian themed artwork graces the walls with mismatched chairs completing things. There’s a definite Indian theme to the interior, but it’s never over the top or tacky.
While the food is traditional at its heart, there are a few twists and turns here and there. The butter chicken uses cashew paste rather than cream for example, and on the drinks list traditional and mango lassi sit side by side with a rose and cinnamon lassi, with an option to add vodka or rum. The cocktails have a decidedly Indian twist to them while the focused wine list is completely Australian and has been crafted to match the food. The beer list also matches the food with a focus on local and imported lagers and IPAs.
The menu is enticing with a selection of Indian street food favourites, Dhawan family favourites, and customer favourites. In fact, the brother’s mother Rekha is involved in the menu’s creation and contributed many of the recipes. We couldn’t decide what we wanted to order so asked Prateek to recommend some dishes for us, dishes that have proven popular with customers and dishes that encapsulate what Mukka is all about. The spicy lamb chops are on of the highlights at Mukka. They are marinated overnight in a special blend of lime juice, warm dark spices, ginger and garlic and served with Kachumbar salad and coriander chutney. A general consensus about the food at Mukka is that the spice levels aren’t quite where people expect them to be and in general we’d agree with that sentiment. These lamb chops though are an exception to that and pack a lot of heat – make sure you have some lassi on hand!
The dosa (a sort of pancake made from fermented lentil and rice batter) is substantial and very addictive. Filled with curried potatoes, it’s served with sambar dal and coconut chutney and will introduce you to flavours you may have not experienced before. The momos (Tibetan dumplings) also hit the spot .
It would be remiss to visit an Indian restaurant and not eat some curry, and the curries at Mukka don’t disappoint. Our favourite is the goat curry which is slow cooked for a minimum of 4 hours in a tomato and onion gravy until it falls off the bone. The palak, which is a delicate spinach curry also hits the spot and can be ordered with either paneer or tofu. One of the biggest surprises at Mukka though is the naan. Unlike many naans which can be heavy and bready, the naan at Mukka is light and fluffy. Different than any naan we’ve had (and we’ve had a few) the first bit evoked an immediate “wow”.
Desserts aren’t the focus at Mukka, and there’s actually only one dessert on the menu. This isn’t a bad thing though as it’s an outstanding creation. The dessert is a Bombay Falooda Kulfi – a glass filled with pistachio, kulfi, rose syrup, falooda and tapioca pearls. It’s beautifully floral and contains a myriad of contrasting textures. We recommend that you mix it up and get a bit of everything in each bite.
Indian food still has a bad reputation in Australia, with stereotypes of heavy, cream rich, oily food prevailing but thanks to restaurants like Mukka, people are starting to realise what Indian food can be – fresh, aromatic and light.
365 Brunswick Street
Telephone: (03) 9917 2224
E-mail: [email protected]
Tue – Sat: 5:30pm to 10:30pm
Sun: 12:00pm to 10:30pm