If it takes a village to raise a child, sometimes it takes a family – by blood, and by choice – to shape a restaurant.
At the new Bangle Publika, which opened in October, you’ll find that the menu of northern Indian fare is very much informed by the tastes of the owners’ family.
“It’s not so much the family recipes that we serve, but the family taste buds that steer us!” said Jaskirat Kaur, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband Jagdees Singh.
“Like the mutton, for instance – there are a lot of mutton-lovers in our family, so it’s our mutton dishes that get the first critiques!”
This family stewardship of tastes means that while the Bangle Publika may serve popular, tried-and-true northern Indian food for the most part – from butter chicken to briyani – the execution of the dishes gives them a distinctive identity, especially when it comes to the use of spices.
They’re present in each mouthful, simultaneously robust and balanced – but post-meal, there seems to be no lingering presence on the palate, making the meal seem lighter.
Dishes in general seem more delicate and subtle – with a lot less oil than usual, too – although they’re as flavourful as you could wish for.
“I find that you can’t cook the same way here as you would in India, because it tends to be too overwhelming for the palate,” said Jaskirat.
“That’s why we’ve done so much R&D to come up with our own spice blends, adjusting the ratio of the spices when necessary.”
Jaskirat and Jagdees started up the Tasty Chapathi restaurant in their home ground of Sentul, before an impressed customer persuaded them to cross borders and open The Bangle in Bali. While a central kitchen – presided over by Jaskirat – churns out the spice pastes and mixes to ensure consistency, the cooking is all done on-site at the restaurants.
Keeping it in the family, brothers Kiranjit and Arvinjit Singh – cousins of Jagdees – are also co-owners and operational managers for The Bangle Publika, and it’s their friendly faces that you’ll see here every day.
“We named the restaurant as such because bangles themselves are vibrant things, reflecting the lively experience here,” said Kiranjit.
The chill, modern feel of the restaurant is compounded by a list of wines and cocktails, presided over by sommelier Senthil Nathan.
“I picked a list of wines that go well with Indian food, and we have a list of sparkling wine cocktails made with Brown Brothers prosecco – it’s a slightly off-dry wine, so it matches well with the food,” he said. “We also have a list of wines available in taster portions of 90ml, so that you can try more wines rather than ordering a full glass.”
Senthil recommends that dishes with lots of gravy are paired with white spirits, while dark spirits go better with the tandoor-roasted items.
Three thali sets are available 12pm to 3pm on weekdays, with palak paneer (RM14.90), butter chicken (RM14.90) or mutton curry (RM18.90), served with naan or rice, chana masala and papadam. Upgrade your thali with aloo gobi and dhal for a few extra ringgit.
Start your meal here with the increasingly modish – and definitely moreish – pani puri (RM7.90), which has crispy, puffed dough balls with their hollow insides filled with a spiced potato and chickpea mixture and crisp chaat masala.
A little spiced sweet-sour tamarind chutney is poured into each ball, before you pop the whole thing in your mouth for a melange of flavours and textures.
The smoky chicken cheese kebab (RM18.90) is a great pick from the tandoor, with tender, juicy chicken rolled around a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. It’s served with two sauces, a piquant, fresh-tasting traditional mint sauce – with quite a chilli kick – and a creamy, mayo-based sauce, also gently spiked with mint leaves.
One of the dishes to really illustrate that distinctive identity of The Bangle Publika is the dum briyani, cooked in a pot sealed with dough, and available daily till 4.30pm.
We tried the mutton dum briyani (RM21.90), which was spice-forward and rich, but also very fluffy and moist, sans that heavy feeling that can pervade too many versions of this dish.
The butter chicken (RM20.90) here is rich and lovely, a comparatively sweeter version than many, but still balanced. The mutton masala (RM28) is even more likeable, extremely tender, with a thick spice paste infusing every inch of the meat.
And for a special signature dish, definitely try the sizzling tava masala veg (RM20.90), amazingly aromatic and with a clean, slightly bitter edge.
These are perfectly paired with one of the fluffy naans, such as the Kashmiri naan (RM7.90), stuffed with cherries and almonds, or garlic cheese naan (RM9.50). The fluffiness of the bread remains even when it has cooled, and it doesn’t become chewy.
For dessert, the pistachio kulfi (RM9.90) is a smooth, creamy concoction which also isn’t very sweet. The rosewater-scented kheer (RM7.90), or rice pudding is even better with a fluffy, syrup-spiked gulab jamun (two pieces for RM4.90) – as Kiranjit recommends.
The Bangle Publika is a place to head to if you want to enjoy well-executed northern Indian dishes which shine with much thought and attention to detail, as well as enjoyable the interplay of nuanced flavours and textures.
A4-G2-1, Solaris Dutamas Publika, No.1, Jalan Dutamas 1, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-6411 4487
Open daily, 11am to 11pm.