This Wednesday we visited North East Flavors, a quaint little eatery tucked away in a nondescript market in Green Park, which as the name suggests serves up cuisines from across the Northeastern states of India. Delhi has witnessed the mushrooming of several quality Northeastern restaurants across the city, as has been covered in this blog. What makes this place unique is that it features dishes from ALL the seven sisters as well as Sikkim. Each dish is labelled according to the state it originates in. It has a wide repertoire of dishes from Naga and Sikkimese cuisine which is quite popular now but also features more obscure cuisines like Mizo and Tripuri. The latter, like Arunachali, is probably only served here. Built from the ashes of the legendary Rosang cafe, Northeast flavours goes one up in their repertoire and is still expanding its menu at the time of writing.
Before we even got started with the starters, we had the complementary herbs and spices laid out in front of us, which are a hallmark of several East Asian cuisines, especially Korean that has previously been covered in this blog. The server took pains to explain the procurement and utility of each of these herbs, which he claimed has been proven to act as detoxifying agents and treat stomach cancer. The star among these was the famous Bhot Jolokia, or the Naga King Chilly/Raja mircha. Unlike in other naga eateries where they pulp it into a chutney, this place served up a regal looking whole pepper which burned our lips and numbed our tongues even as it exuded a unique fragrance that tempered our meals. Others included Kyung Vo, a long naga jungle herb, Deer’s bitterness, a bitter vine that acted as a palate cleanser, La Sen, and Fu-Ro-Thezu- lum, which is reputed to be good for pneumonia patients. The Raison d’etre of this restaurant is that in their endeavour to keep the food as natural and healthy as possible, they strictly stick to natural herbs and spices and use no oil or masalas whatsoever.
For starters, we went by the recommendation of the server and ordered the Honoso Shungcho Rhuchi-Rhujon, which was a dry lightly roasted chicken dish of Naga origin with some bamboo shoots and herbs. The jungle herbs and bamboo shoots were delicious in itself and lent the chicken, which would have been otherwise bland an underwhelming, a pleasant taste.
For the main course we again went by recommendation and ordered Wokoso Rhuchii, a Naga pork dish with bamboo shoots and herbs and Tokhan, a rare Tripuri tribal dish (a majority of the state is Bengali and as such the popular cuisine is overwhelmingly Bengali as well) made with tomatoes and turmeric.
The Wokoso Rhuchi was among the best pork dishes we have had in Delhi and had an especially delicious “gravy“(if you could call it that since there was no oil. It was really water concentrate with the flavors of pork and bamboo shoots). The pork was soft, with minimal fat or rather no offending fat, as is common with pork dishes. The fat had seamlessly merged with the meat due to the dexterity of the cooking and made for wonderful eating.
The Tokhan had a perfect tanginess because of the tomato and despite looking more like a mainland curry dish thanks to its color and turmeric used (a testament to the Bengali influence). it was surprisingly mild and the soft flavors had none of the overwhelming tanginess Indian tomato based curries have.
All this was eaten with the signature Chakhao (Red rice of Manipur), a sticky jelly-like rice cereal that was more blackish in colour reputed to be extremely nutritious. This was evinced in the fact that all the eating did not tire us out or make us drowsy as rice is wont to. The server claimed that this was cultivated along the Manipur Burma border and cost 160 a kilo. He also regaled us with tales about how this was a dish exclusive to the imperial family in China as it was considered a luxury food which such nutritional value that it would have strengthened the common people to such a degree that they would consider rebelling.
In a touching gesture, they gave us a signature dish of theirs as complementary. This was the Nyaa-Si-Waphaat from Arunachal. This consisted of the elegant Red Snapper, delicious in itself, sliced and grated into tiny pieces till it was almost a mince and mixed with fragrant Arunachali herbs and spices. This concoction was then wrapped in a leaf and then charred or roasted. The resultant was a delicious and delicate seafood dish which was the crowning moment in our culinary experience here.
We at Gastronomically Yours categorically urge our readers to visit this restaurant if you are in Delhi to experience the full mysteries and magnificence of the food from our North East, which is almost criminally underrated as it is drowned out by louder and less palatable cuisines. Each subsequent visit would prove to be a vastly different learning experience.
Address: S5, Ground Floor, Green Park Extension, Near Uphaar Cinema Complex, New Delhi
Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/YvkQntz7ZTm
Cost for two: Rs.1000