From Mughalai to Afghan, south Indian, Punjabi and Thai, Delhi has restaurants that cater to every taste. Lately, though, places that serve north-eastern cuisine are becoming increasingly popular and a number of eateries are now familiarising jaded palates in the NCR with the exotic flavours of Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim.
From raja mircha infused chicken and pork to traditional Naga dal to Manipuri-style fried fish, those with a palate that yearns for excitingly unfamiliar flavours will be elated by the many options in the city. So, if you are in the mood for a dash of north eastern spice in dishes that are becoming popular right here in the heart of north India, follow our quick guide.
At Nagaland's Kitchen in Green Park, the bamboo interiors and Naga photographs set the mood. This is the chain's second outlet, the first one being at Dilli Haat (INA Market). The Green Park outlet was opened about five years ago. While most diners from other parts of the country need to acquire a taste for north eastern cuisine, the enthusiastic initiate will slowly feel herself opening up to the flavours as the meal progresses.
(HT Photos: Subrata Biswas)
Where: Green Park Extn Market.
Meal for two: Rs 1500-2000 approx
Dzukou can be a test of patience.You brave a treacherous, creeky lift (or a dark stairway, take your pick), to make your way to the third floor. Once inside, the restaurant's low seating and village-like interiors set the mood for a Naga tribal meal. After you place your order, be ready to wait for a good 20 minutes before the food arrives. Worth the wait? Depends.
For one, you need to be acquainted with the strong aroma of the Naga herbs used here, be a die-hard non-vegetarian and also be ready to experiment with unusual flavours. We picked the smoked pork curry, chicken with bamboo shoot, and the Axhone curry with tropical vegetables. The pork was soft and fatty and the homestyle chicken was flavourful. However, the unfamiliar, pungent flavours of the vegetable curry takes some getting used to. Dzukou is not pocket-friendly for their portions.
Where: Hauz Khas main market.
Meal for two: Rs 1500
Gharua Exaj serves authentic Assamese preparations. This is where you can find khar - part of a traditional Assamese meal - which is made by filtering water through the ashes of a banana tree. Rice is the staple and Gharua Exaj serves it with a wide variety of accompaniments including rohu oi-tenga, which is a fish curry, and chicken or pork curry with bamboo shoot or lia-shak.
Where: D-28, Amar colony, Lajpat Nagar IV
Meal for two: Rs 500
Bamboo Hut, located close to Delhi University's North Campus, is especially popular with students. The place has a simple menu with every dish being a meal in itself. Dimly lit and decorated with art and pictures depicting Naga culture, the restaurant has a cozy ambience. The main attraction here is the Naga thali which includes chicken or pork or fish cooked in bamboo shoot. Have it along with local Nagaland rice, spicy mashed potatoes, boiled veggies and boiled rajma dal. The fried pork ribs are a delight while the pork thukpa is light and well made. The traditional Naga dal and dry fish chutney are also worth trying. While this might not be absolutely the best Naga meal you could have in the city, it is definitely tasty and light on the pocket.
(HT PHOTO: Arun Sharma)
Where: Outram Lines, Kingsway Camp, Delhi University
Meal for two: Rs 300
This cute little restaurant has unpretentious interiors with lots of pictures of the north east hanging on the walls. The highlight of the place remains their menu which brings together the cuisines of all the eight north-eastern states. The health conscious will be happy to learn that Rosang claims to use only organic herbs and that most dishes are prepared with no oil. Must-try dishes include nga thongba, which is a Manipuri-style fish curry, arsa chhum, a no-oil recipe of chicken infused with herbs and lemon leaves. Do also try their desserts such as sweet sticky rice cake and sesame flat cake. For lovers of north eastern cuisine, the place lives up to its name, which means 'God's gift' in Manipur's Paite language.
(HT PHOTO: Arun Sharma)
Where: Green Park Extension Market
Meal for two: Rs 1200 approx