Two friends, love of food and a cuisine unexplored in the southern part of India is how Curry & things came to happen. Elika and Mohsina are chefs with passion of making not just good food, but also continuing their local, ancestral cooking heritage. So the hand me down recipes from grandmothers, unique preparations from a Naga tribe, quaint dishes from Manipur, nostalgic diaries turned cook books make the items on their menu. Tapash and I were honored to be part of one of their tasting sessions in their lovely home in Fraser Town. For this particular event, our food menu was focused mainly on Naga and Assamese cuisines, a splendid combination of hot, hot dishes of Nagaland combined with lesser spicy counterparts from Assam.
A typical meal from this part of the country would be rice, meat of some kind usually pork or beef, boiled vegetables and spicy chutneys, with pickles as accompaniments. In fact Naga cuisine has a vast variety of pork dishes, so be it fresh pork, smoked pork, stewed pork – the selections are delicious and unique. Our menu included all this, and more!
Chicken innards with Naga Chilly
Chicken liver slow cooked with organic dry chilli powder. A spicy dry dish, can be eaten with steamed rice, or as an appetizer.
Smoked pork with bird’s eye chillies
Smoked pork or beef is a very traditional Naga concept. Hung above kitchen fires, the meat is smoked and dried over a period of time, and then used for various preparations. Prepared with Naga herbs, this dish had the meat a little crispy and deliciously smoky.
Boiled bitter gourd and potato chutney with fresh onions and mustard oil
A variant of the Bengali Alu Bhaate, a dry dish with potato and bitter gourd (karela) mashed together. It is a typically eaten with rice at the beginning of the meal.
Pork with bamboo shoot
Fresh pork cooked with fermented bamboo shoot. This is one of the most popular and traditional dishes of this region. The bamboo shoots lent a very different flavor and aroma to the pork, while the chillis kept the spice level up!
Smoked pork with axone or akhuni, fermented soya bean paste, and raja mirch powder – king chilli is also an atypical Naga dish. Axone is prepared slightly differently by each of the various Naga tribes, and this adds a very magical taste to what would be a very normal pork preparation.
Fish in Cooked in Mustard
Inspired from Bengal, the Rahu fish was cooked in mustard oil (of course!) with shorshe bata, rich yellow mustard paste, served with freshly grated coconut. This recipe is a family recipe from Mohsina’s aunt who loved to cook with mustard and coconut. (Bengalis take mustard oil and mustard pastes very seriously!)
Fresh chicken boiled with fresh mixed herbs brought a respite to my intensely burning palate by now! A simplistic and homely preparation of chicken broth in herbs, it was extremely palatable and light. This can be partaken as a soup or as a curry along with steamed rice.
Food from certain parts of the world is more difficult to cook than others owing to the fact that the ingredients are indigenous. Curry & things source these crucial and key ingredients from their home in the north east, so be it bhut jolokia, the Naga king chilli, or the smoked pork or the spicy chutney pickles, authentic is the mantra here.
Each of the dishes had its own distinct flavor, some had elevated spice levels which well, I had some trouble with! Tapash was quite happily pushing his boundaries to check the heat levels he could handle, quite daring on a hot summer afternoon! My favorite dishes were the pork in bird’s eye chillies and the chicken innards in naga chilli. The chicken was delicious, well done and tempered with the spices for the taste to be so consistent. The pork on the other hand, was incredibly tender, well smoked, and the pepper chilli spice added a different dimension of flavor to the dish, while simultaneously making every mouthful hot and spicy.
These dishes in the tasting are not what I have commonly eaten in the recent years. Cooked with acute attention to details, that elevated the tastes, making the dishes interesting, and SO intriguing. And that’s what made this tasting so special.
Curry & things will start as a weekend take away and delivery concept in Bangalore, as both Elika and Mohsina currently work during the week. Orders can be placed Monday through Friday, and approximate price range would be 700 – 1000 for a meal for two. Additionally, they would also be bringing in traditional pickles (beef, pork, fishes, chillies) as well as Assamese snacks (pithas, laroos, til laroo, muri laroo) for sale.
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