Moti Mahal is a longtime favourite in Little India . The ambiance screams fast food and the food is cheap enough to make it work. While there are seemingly endless options for buffets and white table cloth service in the area, Moti Mahal stands out because there's plenty of variety and flavour without all the fuss.
Now in its 35th year of business, Moti Mahal sticks with what it knows best. They're open for lunch and dinner (but closed all day Tuesday) and are probably the busiest place in the whole neighbourhood, regularly dishing out vegetarian and non-vegetarian combo plates (starting at $7.50) throughout the day.
Here for lunch last week, I decide the vegetarian thali is a good bet in terms of size and price. $7.50 gets you a choice of bread, two veggie dishes, a small salad and rice, all served up in a large metal tray. I order a cold bottle of tangy Limca to wash it all down.
With the thali I get to choose two of their vegetarian options. I go for the channa bhatura (mildly spiced chickpeas) that somehow made me hungrier as I gobbled it up.
My second selection was a cheese-filled ball that came with a subtle but tasty tomato based sauce. Paired with white basmati rice (also included) it was stellar. Having both rice and bread to help sop up the sauce was great, especially since the only cutlery available in the restaurant on this day were plastic spoons.
Also on the thali plate were spicy potatoes dusted with garlic and bits of parsley (daal is often another included dish). The potatoes could have used a bit of a zap in the microwave but the flavour has enough zing to make me forget about any temperature issues.
On a subsequent visit, I decide to try the meat thali ($8.50). This time the main dish was butter chicken which came with a side of saucy channa masala (spicy chickpeas), rice, roti and potatoes. The channa masala was mild in spice but nonetheless tasty and great to dip the warm roti in.
Moti Mahal's butter chicken is a revelation in flavour. It's packed with smoky goodness and has a stronger and more seasoned taste than most of the butter chicken dishes I've had before. The colour is also a bit darker than the usual yellow tinged sauce.
Hours: Wednesday to Monday 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.