MINISTRY OF FISH HEAD CURRY RESTAURANT,
AG-12, Glomac Damansara,
Jalan Damansara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
Business hours: 11am to 1pm, daily.
HOW does a restaurant end up with a name like Ministry of Fish Head Curry?
As the story goes, the owners landed on the name through a Whatsapp group chat. Some had suggested that the place be called Curry Mafia while others wanted it to be named after the house speciality.
The votes swung in the latter’s favour.
“You must try our fish head curry. You will love it,” insisted Makhsood Khan, the Ministry’s marketing director.
Fired by peppercorns, ginger, curry powder and spices, the menu features three types of fish – grouper, red snapper and golden snapper.
Chosen for their silky gelatinous flesh, the thick gravy covering the head is enriched by yoghurt and coconut milk. Curry leaves, cumin seeds, bay leaf, tamarind, onions and garlic give the dish a unique flavour.
Prior to immersion into the gravy, the fish head is steamed with lemongrass to get rid of the fishy smell and preserve its shape.
Chef de cuisine Raheel Jabbar gets his supply of fish heads fresh from either the Selayang wholesale centre or the Taman Tun Dr Ismail market thrice a week. He wakes up as early as 2am to do the marketing.
Said Makhsood, the fish head curry in this seven-month-old restaurant dates back 50 years to his grandmother, Wan Fatimah from Perak.
“She passed down the recipe to my mother and she in turn passed it to us,” said Makhsood.
But this newly opened eatery is not only good at fish dishes.
Diners often order their fluffy spinach and tomato chapattis to soak up the thick gravy.
Made in-house and cooked to order over a hot skillet, freshly pureed spinach and tomatoes are kneaded into a dough of atta, rice and wheat flour. Rice flour lends a slight sourish taste to the flatbread while the wheat flour works to add more elasticity. The secret to fluffy chapatti lies in the kneading, said Raheel.
“The dough should feel like the foam in a sofa settee,” he said.
The flatbreads are also great with chargrilled lamb and beef kebabs, which have hints of freshly chopped mint, coriander and green chillies as well as yoghurt.
The secret to an awesome kebab lies in the lean meat-to-fat ratio, which is 80% meat and 20% fat.
Another trick for tenderising minced chicken breast is to add in a dollop of cream, which also adds flavour.
Flavour-wise, the lamb shank briyani is another tantaliser. The meat of the lamb shank needs only the gentle coaxing of a spoon to be pried away from the bone.
So, it has to be slow-cooked in bay leaf, cardamom and whole black peppercorns until a reduction of 80% is achieved, according to Raheel. The end result is a hearty gravy which will go into the briyani rice.
Only Pakistani basmati rice is used and giving the briyani a slightly sourish tinge is the addition of dried plum, an indispensable feature for Raheel.
We also like the attention they have showered on the accompaniments – dal topped with fried onions, raita spiced with cumin seed and masala and a salad of pineapple and cucumber dressed in lemon juice, sugar and salt.
Lastly, Ministry of Fish Head Curry may not be big on desserts but they have amazing kheer – a dessert made of rice, cottage cheese and cream. Some 500 cups have been sold since the restaurant opened.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.