The Mukka Indian restaurant launched itself in style in December 2015, complete with an on-site henna artist for the customers to enjoy. Owned by brothers Prateek and Aditya whose family hail from Delhi, this relatively new restaurant caters to vegans and vegetarians as well.
Keeping its street food and traditional meals on the menu simple and fresh, It's also all about the home smoked ground spices and freshly made homemade chutneys.
Both the brothers trained as chefs here in Melbourne and Prateek is the pastry cook of the two. They later ran their own street food stall, trading as Firebox at Queen Victoria Market's Suzuki Night Market.
The seed of thought to open a restaurant was already firmly planted in their mind and they spent close to two years testing the market at the night market. At the time they concentrated on tandoori, tikka and grilled foods as it was more convenient for the night market vibe.
Through sheer luck they found the space they're now at and converted the old frozen yoghurt shop into a restaurant that showcases their mother's recipes. Prateek and Aditya felt there was a gap in the market. Wherever they went, they felt the food on offer did not do Indian food justice. Not the way they remembered it, freshly made and home cooked.
In particular, Prateek gave example of the simple coriander and mint chutney. Lots of colour and cream and no flavour is what he found. All this only fuelled their desire to show the world how it should be done.
With the help of friends and family they got the restaurant up to scratch. It proudly boasts a large wall mural designed by their artistic father and realised by a graffiti artist. However all the beautiful stencils at the restaurant is all by dad. It adds a refreshing and exotic look to the furniture and main reception counter.
Mukka is not just about Indian food, they also have a list of red, white, pink and sparkling wines aside from the usual beverages of masala chai, beer, cider and soft drinks.
Though there are only two choices of sweets; the Bombay Falooda Kulfi and the Dehli Carrot Kheer, the Lassi choices serve the dual purpose of being a drink and a sweet with its yoghurt base. However it may be a pleasant surprise to you that you can have the Lassi with additions of rum, and vodka. How's that for a bit of a twist in taste?
The restaurant itself had a simple but great ambiance with greenery all around. Between my friend and I, we ordered the Bhel Puri, Tandoori Mushroom, Butter Chicken, Smoky Eggplant and Pea Dosa and Kerala Fish with Dal Tadka, Pea Pulao and Salad with Bombay Falooda Kulfi for dessert.
True to their intent, the food was delicious, not floating in oil and so very fresh. The Naan bread on the side was so light, crisp and fresh, we could have feasted on a whole basket of those. Yum yum yum!
Not just with us, but it seems the Bhel Puri is a favourite among customers and no wonder. With its puffed rice, bombay mix and more, tossed with pomegranate, tomato, onion, and flavoured with lime, tamarind and mint, it was light, crunchy and very tasty.
The Tandoori Mushroom is marinated, cooked in a tandoor oven and served on skewers with a Kachumbar salad and coriander chutney. It was again fresh, but more my friend's choice than mine, as was the Butter Chicken, which is her absolute favourite. It didn't disappoint. She was groaning with delight at the taste and kept exclaiming how tender the chicken was.
I relied on Prateek's suggestion for the Kerala Fish which was a beautifully tender fillet of pan friend barramundi rubbed with keralan spices and served with dal tadka, pea pulao rice and a slice of fresh lemon. it was cooked to perfection, as for me, there's nothing worse than overcooked seafood. That would have been a crime. Do note though that if you've never eaten this dish, the keralan spices which is prominent, might take a little bit of getting used to.
Even though we had so much of food to go through, it would have been sacrilegious to leave without ordering my favourite kind of food, the Dosa. It was also a good opportunity for my friend to taste it for the first time. I can just taste it right now. The crisp and light crepe made from fermented lentil and rice batter and filled with smoked eggplant and pea was just perfection on a plate.
Kulfi was another dish my friend had never had. Needless to say, the satin-smooth pistachio kulfi (a rich ice-cream) with its rose syrup, falooda and tapioca pearls was to die for. Rich, sweet and very moreish. Thus ended a very pleasant experience of fresh Indian food that beckons a revisit.
Meanwhile, you keep up with the updates and news on their Facebook page and join the conversation. Make sure you pay the boys a visit and check out the restaurant which now has a chef cooking under mum's watchful eye. Bon Appétit and Namaste!