CHEF entrepreneur Nisha Katona visited Glasgow on Monday to kickstart plans to transform 78 St Vincent Street into the latest location for her Mowgli Street Food concept.

The growing restaurant group started in Liverpool in 2014 before expanding to 11 locations across England and Wales.

Their menu, inspired by authentic Indian dining, will be available in the city centre from early next year.

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Glasgow Times:

I met up with Nisha at the future venue where she was taking notes with her team in preparation for the launch of the project.

She gave up a 20 year career as a barrister to build the business. It was her legal training that first led her to Glasgow.

“I know the city because when I was at university I used to come here for law competitions” she explained.

“It’s friendly and always somewhere I felt like I could fit in. I think it has a similar feel to Liverpool.

“Every time I open a new restaurant and go to a new location it’s because I have some link to the place. I know the ones that are right for us, that will get what we are trying to do.

“Our food is quirky, home-style food we are not a burnished, posh fine dining experience.”

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Nisha was joined on the visit by her mum and aunt, who enjoy contributing ideas for the building’s design.

As the number of restaurants and her responsibilities have grown, Nisha has insisted on retaining a hands-on approach at each site. It’s important to her and to her family as they see each venture as representing a very personal aspect of Indian food.

“I’m the executive chef for Mowgli and all the dishes are based on what I cook for my family. That’s where this idea came from. The recipes are from my mother or my grandmother or some variation that has come from me.

“An example of a dish that represent who we are as Indians in my family would be the temple dahl. My father is a Hindu priest so it is part of that tradition while also offering a zing of clean, vegan flavours.”

The surge of interest in vegetarian and vegan dishes has created the opportunity for Mowgli to redefine what people think of Indian cuisine. “In ancient times, the Hindu tradition in India was completely vegan, even things like garlic and onion weren’t allowed. It’s cleansing and light and that’s the way that Indians eat on their streets.

“People think of Indian food as heavy, meat based, something you wouldn’t have for lunch. We stand on the shoulders of curry houses, what they do is fantastic but it is very different to the way we eat at home.” You’ll also find North Indian chicken dishes, lamb curries and fish simmered in fragrant sauces on the menu.

Nisha has been delighted by the messages she has received since announcing Mowgli would open in Glasgow.

She said “I was surprised that people already knew about us and would refer to dishes they loved. I hope people will want this food in their life. Bring your family, bring your dog, fill up from the menu and it won’t break the bank.”

Nisha then went off to Mother India Café for dinner before travelling back home but she says she will be back in the city again soon.

While timings are dependant on the end of social distancing, they expect work to begin on this new landmark restaurant in January next year with opening anticipated for April 2022.