Fish Curry Rice is a renowned name amongst all sea-food lovers in Pune, with two branches; one in the city and the other at Law College Road; and I’ve been meaning to try it out for a long time. So, last Saturday when I was craving a proper sea-food thali, I caught hold of my sea-food partner in crime, my brother, and forced him to go to Fish Curry Rice with me for lunch.
Fish-Curry Rice opened up few months back on Law-College Road at the same place where Grubshup used to be few months ago. The restaurant is split over two levels, the lower section attached to the open kitchen and the upper level. Those who do not like the smell of fish being fried, I recommend they op for the upper level while those like me who would actually like that smell to add to the experience, might prefer the lower level.
The restaurant is owned by the Bhat family, which also own the Marathi theatre production house ‘Suyog’ and what I loved the most about this place was that the walls are decorated with the posters of some of Suyog’s most brilliant and famous plays like Ti Fulrani, Vyakti ani Valli, Moruchi Mavshi, Eka lagnachi Goshta among several others; it was a wonderful trip down the memory lane for me remembering some unforgettable moments watching those plays. I will use this platform to thank the entire Suyog family for their invaluable contribution to Marathi theatre and popular culture with their meaningful content.
Coming back to the restaurant; our order was pre-decided and I opted for a Pomfret Thali while my brother went for a Surmai thali. The thali comes with a fish fry of your choice and the accompaniments as below.
Tival: A savoury kokum drink, that they served as a welcome drink; I found their version a bit too sweet for my liking and had a very strong garlic flavor.
Pomfret fry: It was a brilliantly done, perfectly fried whole pomfret with a flavourful masala marinade and a thin coat of batter. The fish was deep fried, so the coating and the skin both had crisped up beautifully.
Surmai fry: My brother’s Surmai fry had an ultra-thin slice of Surmai which was again marinated and batter fried and although it was perfect taste-wise, it was too measly in terms of quantity at the same price as the Pomfret, considering that Pomfret is the costlier fish of the two.
Bangda curry: The Bagda (Mackerel) curry had a small piece of mackerel in a typical Saraswat style coconut curry. It was a thin, coconut based gravy with nice flavors from kokum and tirphal (Sichuan peppers) that are so central to Saraswat curries and I quite liked this curry, although my brother differs with me.
Prawn Curry: This again was a more delicate coconut based curry, but we were really disappointed with it. The prawns seemed overcooked and tough and the curry was simply lacking in flavor. Its another thing to be subtly flavoured, but this was outright bland. My brother who rarely eats rice, but gorges on it if served with a good prawn curry was actually saving up all his prawn curry to end his meal on a high with the prawn curry rice, but was sorely disappointed with this bland curry.
Sol kadhi: Sol kadhi again was disappointment, it neither had the sourness of the kokum shine through, nor the garlic and chilly flavours were enough.
Chutneys: They serve two coconut based chutneys with the thali, a coriander one and another one with red chillies and both are delicious, go perfectly with the fried fish.
Cauliflower achaar: Was freshly made with finely grated cauliflower, achaar masala and a nice tempering of mustard.
Rice: I am glad that they use a flavorful local short grain rice, to make the steamed rice for the thali; and not basmati; so that does perfect justice to the curries.
Chapatis: were home-style, thin and perfectly made.
Jeere-Miryachi Kadhi: Since we did not like the Sol Kadhi too much, the owner Mr. Sandesh recommended that we try this speciality of theirs. And he was right, we quite liked this chilled coconutty drink with cumin, fresh coriander, pepper and a nice tempering of curry leaves. If the same chef makes this flavorful drink, wonder how he got the Sol Kadhi so wrong.
Service is really quick and efficient. The owner Mr. Sandesh and another manager personally look after the diners and ask for feedback and make recommendations.
Price seems alright for the quality of ingredients used and the portions, if only the curries were slightly better.
Overall, I loved the fried fish here and may go back for that again. But you can’t have ‘Curry’ in your name and get that wrong, so I hope they improve there really. The gentleman who was seated next to us also pronounced that the curry he ordered was the blandest he ever had, so I am not the only one complaining I guess. Really, the place has a lot of potential if only the curries were better.