By Aroonim Bhuyan | December 25, 2017
Want to try some fresh fish from a river in the hills of Nagaland topped with aromatic herbs? Or maybe a chicken curry cooked in Tripura style with natural herbs and sour tomatoes? Else, what about some Bai, a seasonal vegetable stew with organic natural herbs and spices from Mizoram?
If you want to try these and more, don’t wait — head straight to North East Flavours, a newly-opened restaurant in the national capital’s Green Park Extension serving the exotic and nutritious cuisine of all eight northeastern states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
The fare on offer at North East Flavours is a veritable cornucopia of the best that the hills and vales of the region has to offer. While there is Ngatok from Arunachal Pradesh, which is fish cooked with indigenous, exotic and aromatic herbs, there is Aksol Dol from Assam which is chicken curry with yam leaves and organic herbs.
The signature dish from Nagaland is the Wokoso Rhuchii/Rhuchak, pork cooked with fermented organic bamboo shoot stem and aromatic herbs.
“North East Flavours is an attempt to promote and showcase northeastern cuisine and soft power skills to the world at large,” Bill Lotha, owner of the restaurant and a passionate chef himself, told IANS.
“I personally believe that northeastern cuisine is comparable with the best in the world and this venture is aimed at bringing the wondrous flavours of the northeast together at one place.”
Lotha, who hails from Nagaland, said that the dishes offered by the restaurant are almost oil-free and without any Indian masalas, keeping health consciousness in mind.
“With cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes on the rise in India, people should trim down on oil, potatoes, masala and sugar,” he said, adding that the concept of health food has largely been unexplored in India.
“People talk about organic fruits and vegetables, but very few people know the technique of cooking such organic produce. We are providing organic food solutions for perfect health.”
As an example, Lotha said that wheatgrass is used in northeast cooking apart from jungle herbs and leaves. “Wheatgrass contains multivitamins and nutrients,” he pointed out.
One may find the dishes served in North East Flavours similar to Oriental cuisine, but Lotha says that is not the case.
“In Oriental food, a lot of ajinomoto is used. But we don’t do that. Instead, we put three to four herbs in each of our dishes which are highly, highly nutritious,” he explained.
Stating that the chefs in the restaurant have been selected from each of the northeastern states, Lotha added: “Some of them have worked in Delhi, including in five-star hotels. But we sent them back to the northeast to re-learn and refine their skills in cooking authentic and indigenous northeastern dishes.”
Hence you will find dishes like Wah-si-wett from Arunachal Pradesh (chicken pieces with herbs and hot chilli, bound in jungle leaf and roasted), Dhoneihong from Meghalaya (pork cooked with black/brown sesame paste and aromatic herbs), Aloo Tama from Sikkim (potato and bamboo shoot, gently cooked with exotic local herbs) and Nga Thongba from Manipur (fish curry cooked with spring onion, lemon flavours and herbs).
These are but some samples on offer, but a look at the menu will show the wide range of delicious dishes available.
So what are the future plans?
“Right now, we have got proposals from Kolkata and Mumbai. If we manage to open in these two places, we will try to open in other major metros in India and offer our healthy fare to all those who are health conscious,” Lotha stated.
What: North East Flavours
Where: Green Park Extension
Timings: 11.30 am to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Approx Rs 1,200
(Aroonim Bhuyan visited North East Flavours at its invitation. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)