19, Lorong Yap Kwan Seng,
Tel: 03-2166 1022
MUGLE Azam, which means “Mughal Kings”, is situated just off busy Jalan Yap Kwan Seng in the middle of KL’s metropolis.
Formerly a sprawling Balinese day spread over a huge colonial bungalow, it has been given a new lease of life as the area’s latest North Indian offering.
Daniel Mankani, a technology entrepreneur by day and Mughle Azam’s managing director at any other time, credits the inspiration for his creation to recreating Mughal royal specialties in an environment that echoes the wisdom of the ages.
Indeed, one will not find a more eclectic collection of philosophical and historical influences on the walls, hence the tagline of “every wall has a story, every dish is a dream”.
While waiting for food to be served, Daniel’s tour showed me a brief history of mankind told through pictographs, Greek reliefs on another, and even the Seven Deadly Sins inscribed near the shisha/hookah haven.
Our growing appetite was only matched by Daniel’s near-fanatical enthusiasm in the interior design, pointing out how building material was recycled from the waste of the last establishment and how he had Sarawakian craftsmen weave the thatched roofs.
Since its doors opened right about four months ago, the menu has undergone constant revision to focus on the more popular offerings available.
We had the chance to look at “Version 2.0” of the menu which had significantly more crossed-out items than the original menu at the entrance.
However, there are still a substantial number of dishes and fans of North Indian cuisine would find it hard to blame Mughle Azam for skimping on choices.
We opted to try as big a variety as we could, starting with Daniel’s recommended Mughle Azam Hummus, whose claim to fame comes from a selection of premium yellow lentils, slowly simmered and presented in a creamy blend with olive oil.
We liked it for its creamy, salty yet slightly tangy flavour, which is quite different from pasty versions of the Middle-Eastern dish.
What was more amazing was the Indian bread, which was puffy and light, and not in the least bit oily.
The next item off the kitchen counter was the Lamb Chops, which at RM48 could not be found on the menu then.
Skewer-grilled and oven-baked to perfection, Mughle Azam’s team of chefs have opted to replace their charcoal tandoori fires for customers who worry about excessive carbon.
Purists of tandoori delights would be shocked, but the carbon-conscious among us would be glad to know that the end results were indistinguishable from the real thing.
Even without a charcoal flame, the cutlets were still amazingly tender and juicy inside yet crispy outside, and the overall flavour was eye-popping.
Still, it is lamb and we would recommend eating this dish fast before the meat turns tough and less tasty as it cools. A surprising highlight of the presentation was the mashed potato bed, and despite Daniel’s pleas to save some space I could not help myself to multiple helpings of that sweet and creamy batter.
I had enlisted a vegetarian companion to provide second opinions on their plant-based fares, where Daniel recommended the Tandoori Cauliflower.
Simply marinated in mild spices and grilled, it was evident that the flowerets were blanched first before being immediately coated in copious amounts of turmeric.
This dish differs from the Malaysian norm of frying the marinated cauliflower, and while it was a commendable alternative, we decided that the overall result was still quite plain.
Our appetite had gotten the better of us and we had ordered a quartet of Lamb Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer and Tarka Dal, all which were served in similar portions and with normal and garlic naan.
At an average of RM25 a dish, it would really be advisable to share this with more than one person, as we soon found out with each dish’s creamy richness.
The Lamb Rogan Josh was generously spiced with cloves, and had a slightly hot aftertaste which was harmonious with its use of lentils.
I was grateful that the chefs had opted to bring out the complex aromas and flavours of the spices instead of the spiciness of the dish. Potatoes were included as a nice balance to the meat and to intensify the flavours in the surrounding stew.
Like the hummus, the Tarka Dal employed yellow lentils instead of the ubiquitous chickpeas. Together with a sautéed tomatoes, ginger cumin and onions, it resulted in a gentle, powdery texture quite unlike the dhal sides commonly found in mamak eateries.
However, difference comes at a price and the small serving of the dish would set a diner back RM18 for what is essentially a staple.
Butter Chicken is a perennial favourite and certainly one of mine. Described in the menu as clay oven-cooked and pulled chicken in a mild, rich tomato curry, our version of it looked and smelled wonderful with a dollop of yoghurt on top, but it was uncomfortably tangy than what we expected.
Daniel assured us that it was as authentic as it could be and for that we gave him the benefit of the doubt. The chicken tikka pieces were tender with the butter sauce, and if you don’t mind your food being brash in taste, pair this with a more neutral dish.
For that, the Palak Paneer was the answer. The creamy spinach sauce was so fresh one could almost taste the “green” still in it.
The cottage cheese used was practically home-made in Mughle Azam’s kitchen from fresh cow milk straight from the Malaysian dairy farms. That made a big difference in the taste and we thoroughly enjoyed this dish as the answer to its spicier brothers.
Mughle Azam is a huge place and with the proper set-up, looks well set to cater to large corporate functions or banquets with ease (up to 250 people).
Like its quirky messages, however, it feels as though it is still in a quest to discover itself as it tweaks and tunes its presentation and offerings for a localised crowd.
As it is, Daniel admits that his customers are mostly Arab but he expects more Malaysians to enjoy Mughle Azam’s authentic North Indian offerings as its recipes undergo “fusionisation”. Live classical performances, an outdoors grill buffet and lunch sets are all part of the plan.
Yes, it isn’t quite perfect yet, but it holds promise for what it already is, which is decent North Indian cuisine with a full bar and a soothing dining environment. Expect the bill to come up to RM50-70 per person excluding drinks, depending on your appetite.
As for the food, it is best that you heed the Seven Deadly Sins on the wall and watch out for Gluttony.
The Good: Mughle Azam’s quest for authenticity demands only the freshest ingredients fit for a king. They also subscribe to Room Service if you want steaming curries delivered to your doorstep on a rainy day.
The Bad: The menu is in a constant state of change. Instead of relying on recommendations, trust your instincts and tastebuds instead.
The Promising: Look for the upcoming buffet offers and the finalised menu, which should incorporate all customer feedback since this fledgling’s inception.