Fetty’s Street Food – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
Columbus is a hot bed for food trucks and even with the pandemic in full swing, the owners continue to work tirelessly to keep their business alive. This week we ventured to Fetty’s Street Food, located at the time at the Daily Growler in Powell.
We’d heard of Fetty’s Street Food many times, but hadn’t managed to be in the right place at the right time to snag some of their South African, Indian, or Thai dishes. The Lady of the Farm got a tip a while back that there was a particularly fiery phall curry that Fetty’s had made in the past, so we were intrigued. After some messaging back and forth, we learned more and were notified when the “hottest curry in the world” was ready to go.
Arriving at the truck’s location, the big letters and colorful geometry greet you with the same friendliness as the owner and chef himself, Damian Ettish. From the previous paragraph you may be thinking “South African, Indian, and Thai are a unique trio,” and you’re not wrong. Ettish pulls Fetty’s cooking inspiration from his own history of growing up in South Africa and his time spent in India and Thailand, where he learned to cook street fare. Items like Curry Leaf Paneer, Bunny Chow, and even General Tso’s, show the range of his skill as well as the flexibility that his food truck grants. If you find Fetty’s in your area, we definitely recommend checking them out and chatting with Damian. Super nice guy that won’t make you feel silly if you don’t know what one of his dishes is.
This time around, the menu had Crispy Panaeng Chicken, Phall (this is the spicy one), and Bombay Somosas, a mainstay on the menu. The Lady of the Farm went with the Panaeng, and I went with the Phall, because of course I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to eat the hottest curry in the world. The Crispy Panaeng Chicken is one of the first dishes where The Lady of the Farm reflected after and said, “yeah, I definitely need to get that again. Keep an eye out for when they’re close to us.” She mentioned this while sweating a bit on her nose, a solid sign that it was a bit spicy, but a reasonable heat.
The version of phall that was made is a thick red curry with notes of heat from a host of peppers, but toned down for the common customer. As this is a rare dish from Fetty’s owner and chef Damian Ettish, he wanted to make sure folks could get an idea of what he was going for without being totally turned away. Ettish also gave a brief history of phall itself, noting that the origins essentially come from being angry at drunks. From his time cooking British Indian curries in London, Ettish learned that Phall was “created to be super spicy because drunk people in Birmingham would go for a curry after a night out, as curry houses (restaurants) would be close to closing.” Annoyed chefs then made the fiery dish to punish the drunken patrons, while also getting some enjoyment from seeing them sweat.
The version I ate adds additional peppers, the equivalent to what Ettish says would be the true recipe if enough folks showed interest (mentioned in this Instagram post). With pickled pepper cup in hand, I took a deep inhale to get the full bouquet of super hots and the quick pickling technique used by Fetty’s. With Bhut Jolokias, Carolina Reapers, birds eye chilis, habaneros, Kashmiri chilis, serranos and cayenne peppers, this phall is stacked. I offered The Lady of the Farm a quick whiff but she turned away with a quick “oof, whyyyyy?!” before retreating to her Crispy Panaeng Chicken. Chuckling, but asking the same question, I dumped the diced demons into the phall and pumped myself up.
Admittedly, I was nervous. I’d seen the density of chilis that went into this dish, and there were even more cooked in that weren’t visible to my special spicy eyes. I prepared for the worst and dove in. Immediate heat, mixed with a host of flavors. That familiar super hot kick in the teeth and then a storm of cumin, ginger, and other ingredients that are a part of the Bengali five-spice blend (called paanch phoran) used by Ettish. The basmati pilau gives a brief moment of sanity before you plunge back into the halls of madness, more fire with each additional bite.
About halfway through the dish, I realized I’d left my drink across the room. Rookie mistake. Nose dripping, I stood up and staggered to my cup. Legs wobbly, it took me a moment to realize I was three sheets to the spicy winds. A sensation only felt in a few of the dishes on our list, the fiery phall had taken hold and was not letting go. Mouth still aflame, but the dopamine kicking in, I stumbled back with my drink in hand to finish the dish, impressed at the simple, yet tasty, addition the pickled pepper mix added.
Exhausted from the fisticuffs with the phall, I worked through the remaining bites, whispering “the end is nigh” to myself. As dishes loaded with super hots go, this phall has the most unique flavor profile. There was the familiar “my body won’t try to cool me down anymore” feeling, and a linger that lasted long after the dish was done, but I made it through.
Thinking about the other dishes within our top 10, Fetty’s fiery phall had similar physical effects to Hoggy’s Uncut Inferno wings and the Shinigami Ramen from Satori Ramen Bar. Those two dishes are relentless and give almost no break from the heat, while the phall lets you sit and wander around with the other flavors for a bit. With that in mind, we are placing the phall at #3 on our list, bumping down Mikey’s Fiery Death Pizza with Hate Sausage. It’s a bit harder to pin down when exactly this dish will be available, but the best way to find out is by keeping up with Fetty’s Street Food on Instagram or Facebook.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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