Fakruddin is that famous Bangladeshi biryani restaurant which, since its conception in 1966, has played hosts to numerous personalities from the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere, from the scion of India's ruling Gandhi family, Rahul, to British TV-chef, Rick Stein. I'd not had the opportunity to visit any of its Dhaka outlets during my visit to Bangladesh a few years back but, lucky for me, Fakruddin now has a branch in Singapore's Little India district off Serangoon Road. Esconced in the area bounded by Desker Road and Lembu Road, it lies in the heart of the Bangladeshi retail/commercial area within Little India.
What I tried today:
- "Kachchi biryani": I'd tried many types of biryanis, from the classic, spicy Hyderabadi version to the delightful Thalaserry Biriyani using Moplah Muslims from Kerala using aged short-grained “Khaima" rice. The Bengali kachchi biryani is certainly as good as any: the spiced meat is cooked, and steam-sealed together with the rice (contrast this with the Pakki biryani where the spiced meats and rice were cooked separately before being mixed prior ro serving). Fakruddin did not have the chicken version when I visited today, so I tried the mutton version and it was sensational - the short-grained rice was reminiscent of the quinoa-like "khaima" grains, whilst chunks of spiced potatoes embedded in the rice provided a delightful textural contrast and were also flavoursome. No one on the Indian sub-continent can rival the Bengalis in knowing how to extract such sweetness from onions through slow-cooking and caramelisation. Here, strands of golden-brown shallots provided bursts of sweetness to the rice. The mutton, cooked on-the-bone, was dark and tender.
- "Aloo bhorta": mashed potatoes spiked with pungent mustard oil. This is definitely Bengali comfort food, the mustard oil turned what would have been a "normal" potato mash into a tasty concoction, best enjoyed with steamed white rice. The version at Fakruddin contained sprigs of fresh coriander leaves and aromatic golden-fried shallots.
- "Chichinga chingri bhaji": stir-fried snakegourd and shrimps. I liked this light side-dish: the snakegourd is a common vegetable used in Chinese cooking, and its soft zucchini-like texture contrasted nicely with the shell-on shrimps. The rendition here was subtly flavoured with the lightest touch of mustard oil.
One of the most satisfying lunches I'd had in a while. Rick Stein and the BBC crew did an episode on Fakruddin's kacchi biryani at its main Gulshan outlet.
8 Desker Road