The Mosque Kitchen is a genuine Edinburgh institution, beloved for serving quick, cheap and tasty meals to those in the know. The disposable plates, plastic cutlery, and communal outdoor tables were all part of the experience.
As word spread that the Mosque Kitchen was moving indoors, there were rumblings of concern not only that prices might go up, but that the essential charm of the no-frills experience might be compromised.
It’s certainly true that there are no pigeons to be seen in the sleek new lime and plum-painted premises. And the buffet option is roughly double the price of a plate of mixed curries at the old premises. But if you have an affection for polystyrene plates and that fiver is burning a hole in your pocket, fear not. The Mosque Kitchen has done an admirable job of catering for all tastes without compromising on their original ethos.
It’s a little confusing initially, but basically diners have the option of choosing from a selection of a la carte curries, simply served for essentially the same price as they have always been, or the buffet option, where £10 buys all you can eat from a self-serve smorgasbord of spicy delights from tandoori chicken wings and vegetable pakora through to a selection of meat and veg curries, rice, nan bread, salad etc. Drinks and puddings (a bought-in selection including a variety of gateaux as well as Asian specialties) are priced separately, and draught soft drinks priced at £1 for a large 16oz glass.
Happily, the quality of the food on offer has not suffered in the move. Indeed if anything, the kitchen seem to have upped their game a bit. A lamb biryani takes superlatives like “melt in the mouth” to an entirely new level, tandoori chicken legs are well seasoned and more-ish, garlic nan is buttery and rich, and everything tastes like honest home cooking.
What many diners may not realise is the extent to which the Mosque Kitchen is a charitable venture. The medium-term aim of the new restaurant is to build a hospital in Pakistan too allow the most impoverished to access essential medical care, but this is merely the tip of the philanthropic iceberg. They also offer ongoing support to a Pakistani orphanage and have donated tools and equipment to a home construction programme in Kyrgyzstan. Closer to home, they have provided meals for primary schools, donated food for fundraising events for other charities, provided an Eid meal for HM prison Edinburgh, and provided discounted or free food for many other charities.
The Mosque Kitchen is truly a community venture and a genuine jewel in Edinburgh’s restaurant crown. Eat a meal here and the warm glow in your belly after won’t just be from the chilies!