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Mukka brings Delhi cuisine to Fitzroy

Mukka, which means ‘punch’ in Hindi slang, is all about authentic Indian food.

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Image source: 
Thomas Ayton

Prateek and Aditya Dhawan are two brothers from Delhi, a city in the north of India known for its diverse cuisine. Together, they are the forces behind Mukka, which means ‘punch’ in Hindi slang – but in Fitzroy, it’s all about authentic Indian food.

The brothers have developed a dining experience at the Brunswick Street restaurant reminiscent of their beloved homeland and the food of their youth. Mukka doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel. Rather, a melting pot of diverse yet authentic, home-style cooking is the dish of the day.

A culture of collaboration has allowed the menu to draw culinary influence from many regions of India. The Dhawans’ mother stands at the helm of North Indian dishes, while a trusted South Indian chef injects culinary wisdom into Mukka’s southern specialities. Every item is lovingly crafted from scratch, packing one heck of a punch in flavour and aroma.

In all its spiced glory, the dosa is a beloved all-day staple in the south. Mukka serves this traditional brunch pancake wafer thin, with a vibrant medley of tangy sambar dal, potato curry and sweet chutneys,for a perfect balance of India’s cardinal flavours.

The slow-cooked goat curry proves to be another of Mukka’s specialities. It’s succulent, soft and packed with taste. Care is taken to develop a maturity of flavour as the goat is cooked low and slow for a minimum of four hours. The meat literally falls off the bone.

The banana fish fry – from Kerala, with love – is a favourite of Aditya Dhawan. A fillet of basa is lovingly marinated in a fresh blend of garlic, ginger tomatoes, green chillies and desiccated coconut. The highly flavoursome fish is wrapped in a banana leaf and fried to deliver a wildly aromatic standout dish.

Mukka’s commitment to catering for dietary requirements is commendable. The majority of dishes are gluten-free and vegetarian (if not vegan) friendly, with the brothers going the extra mile to ensure customers are catered for. The idiyappam, a South Indian and Sri Lankan speciality, delivers a ball of tangled noodles with a coconut-based, vegetable curry as an accompaniment. The Gobi 65 is another stellar choice – cauliflower is seasoned with lemon and pepper, then deep fried to create a mouth-wateringly fresh vegetable dish.

True to form, the drinks menu treats us to a selection of cocktails with an Indian twist. Mukka’s Bloody Maharani adds a sprinkling of turmeric and celery salt to a classic Bloody Mary mix. The Mumbai Monsoon – dark and stormy – uses the iconic Indian rum Old Monk as its base spirit. You can even add a nip of alcohol to your lassi.

The essence of Indian cuisine is also expressed in the restaurant décor. The space is small but perfectly formed – decorated by friends and family of the Dhawans, the venue showcases a bright and brilliant colour palate throughout.

The Dhawan brothers have created an open and versatile space for friends and families to enjoy the soul of Indian cuisine. Mukka reminds us all why Melbourne loves Indian food - vibrant punches of colour, lashings of flavour, dizzying aromas and a warm, community spirit.

CHANNELLING ALL CORNERS OF THE GLOBE

What makes the restaurant you work at special? When you walk into Mukka, you can feel it’s got soul. We take pride in the diversity of our staff who come from Nepal, South India, Pakistan, Chile, the UK and Australia. Seeing the passion, the energy and hard work of the whole team towards a common goal is what makes working at Mukka a remarkable experience that is very special.

What are your favourite ingredients to work with? It’s not an ingredient that you eat, but I love working with banana leaf; it’s like an eco-friendly version of foil. We use it in our banana leaf fish fry to seal in the flavour and juices. It releases an earthy aroma, is aesthetically pleasing and gives a warm feeling, like opening up a gift on Christmas day.

Tell us about your menu. What makes it special/different? The chefs in the kitchen come from diverse backgrounds and as a result, Mukka’s menu has evolved to become as equally diverse. We don’t have a huge menu, because we want to give each item the love and attention it deserves. For example, our dosas are made from scratch; we grind the ingredients and ferment the batter in-house to bring fresh, real Indian food to our cult.

In your opinion, what is the perfect three-course meal at your restaurant? There are many ways to mow the lawn but the easiest, quickest and most efficient way would be to say two words, “Feed Me”. We have a set menu option for Vegan, Vegetarian or Non-veg, which will ensure you’re well fed and satisfied by the end of your meal. This will include an array of Indian street food like samosas (veg/vegan), Bhel Puri (a Bombay street food), followed by perfect warming curries like Matar paneer, fluffy naan breads, ending with a dessert of your choice – but I personally would recommend Gulab Jamun.

Do you have anything special coming up in winter? (special events/special menu additions). Last year on a cool sunny afternoon, we took our lively spirits and colourful kites to North Fitzroy’s Edinburgh Gardens in the celebration of freedom (Indian Independence Day), and we plan to do it all over again this year, on Sunday August 26. The day will start with two-for-one South Indian Thali at Mukka, followed by fun activities. We’ll be flying kites, playing carom board, munching on samosas and slurping on chai. Look out for updates on our Facebook and Instagram.

Find Mukka at 365 Brunswick St, Fitzroy.