By OOI MAY SIM
When you start something Fierce, it’s only natural to follow up with something Fiercer. That’s exactly what Herukh Jethwani and his wife, Aahana, have done with their two restaurants.
Fierce Curry House opened in Bangsar in 2011, serving South Indian fare like banana leaf rice, roti and its signature Hyderabadi Dum Biryani. Two years later, its sophisticated sister was born in Solaris Dutamas.
The newer restaurant serves alcohol along with North Indian cuisine – tandoor dishes, roti, kati rolls (skewered roasted kebabs wrapped in flat bread), chaat (savoury snacks), a host of mains and, since July, an Indian tapas menu. Its famed Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is also available.
There is history behind the tale of Fierce and Fiercer: the ‘mother’ of these siblings was the charming Bangles restaurant, the first North Indian eatery in Kuala Lumpur. It opened in the late 1960s and was bought by Herukh’s father, Thakurdas Naraindas, in 1983 – the year Herukh was born. Bangles closed its doors in 2009 … but Herukh says he has plans to relaunch the fine dining establishment in the next year or so.
In the meantime, his focus is on these twin outlets, which offer casual dining experiences. But why that name? “Whenever my father and his brother described something good, whether it was food or girls, they always used the word ‘fierce’. It stuck with us. So, when we opened our second outlet, it made sense to call it Fiercer,” explains Herukh.
Fiercer is decked out in recycled tables and chairs, some of them over 30 years old, from Bangles. Yet, the place has a contemporary vibe. Jazzy bossa nova tunes play in the background, the bar area is sleek and lighting comes by way of cool biryani bowl lampshades.
Fiercer can also thank Bangles for its signature Hyderabadi Dum Biryani recipe, although it has new incarnations in this outlet. “At Bangles, the most unconventional we went was to serve prawn biryani. Now, we have 14 different versions of this dish,” says Herukh.
The usual favourites – mutton (boneless; RM22), chicken (boneless thigh; RM20), fish (mackerel; RM20) and vegetable (RM14) – can be ordered on the spot, but the specials require a day’s notice. These include crab (RM140), scallops (RM80), cod (RM80), king prawns (RM80), lamb shank (RM80), venison (RM25), squid (RM25), paneer (RM25) and mock meat (RM25).
Topping this list is the lobster briyani (RM240). Served in a huge pot, a portion serves four but it can easily feed six to eight people. The pot is sealed with dough and cracked open right before your eyes, releasing a delightful aroma of spices, and revealing the huge lobster hidden within (see top image). The restaurant uses live Canadian lobster, which it cooks for seven minutes to juicy, tender perfection.
The lobster we had was extremely meaty with enchantingly sweet flesh. It went beautifully with the long, moist basmati grains that were heavily spiced and packed with flavour. The mutton briyani had the same results; soft, flavourful chunks of mutton made each mouthful a dream. These came with a mixed raita, vegetable achar and chicken gravy.
Aside from briyani, we sampled two tapas: Chicken Tikka Malai Tapas (RM22 for four) and Prawn Tikka Haryali (RM34 for four). The first consisted of cubes of chicken marinated in cream, cheese and ground cashews, before being grilled in a tandoor. The cubes were then stacked on a toasted baguette along with a spread of mint and chilli chutney and some pickled onion. The chicken was soft and tasty, but slightly undercooked. The prawn tapas, however, were better prepared. They were marinated in a yoghurt mint sauce before getting the same treatment as the chicken. Fat and juicy, the prawns went beautifully with the crisp bread and fresh mint sauce.
A must-order is the butter chicken (RM25). Here, chicken tikka is cooked in tomato, cream and butter and flavoured with fenugreek leaves. Each mouthful was rich, creamy and delightfully good.
The restaurant’s dessert menu is courtesy of Pretty Little Layers, a small dessert company owned by Aahana, and The Last Polka ice cream. As we ordered the Mango Panna Cotta (RM18) and Gulab Jamun (RM6 for two pieces), I made a mental note to come back for the Roti Nutella Banana (RM12) and Falooda, which Herukh describes as “an Indian sundae” (RM12).
The traditional Italian dessert was thick, smooth and luscious, and topped with a puree of Alphonso mango imported from India. The Gulab Jamun was unlike any other I have tried. Made according to Herukh’s grandmother’s recipe, the milk balls were fried in ghee then dunked in thin syrup. Fiercer’s version had fluffy, spongy balls that were lighter and way less sweet than the original version – according to Herukh, it is actually 50% less sweet.
All in, Fiercer is a snazzy space with fun – and deliciously complex – food. It’s a bonus when Herukh and his wife are present – they alternate between their two outlets – to share stories of their food and life. Good food and company always make the best dinner combo.
This review first appeared in Flavours magazine’s September 2015 issue.
FIERCER BY FIERCE CURRY HOUSE
1, Jalan Solaris Dutamas
Open daily from 11am to 11pm
Tel: 019-383 0945 or 03-6211 2066