Rosang Café in Delhi has gained much critical acclaim since its launch on March 1, 2014. Pity that most appreciation has come from people and media outside of the Northeast…for a place that has successfully taken the Northeast to the mainland, rather misfortunate!
Rosang, which means God’s gift in Mizo, though has been more than God’s gift to owner Mary Lalboi alone, but also to people living and traveling to Delhi, who often crave for a bite from home. So if you are traveling to Delhi for work or are on holiday and have a craving for home-food, head to Green Park Extension Market on Aurobindo Marg. There you will find Rosang Café, an unpretentious 850 sq. ft. space, enough to seat 28 people and served by a staff of 12. We must warn you not to get confused…this is the third location for Rosang Café, the previous two that had to be vacated were in Munirkafirst and then HauzKhas Village. The wooden floor, the ample use of bamboo furniture and thewhitewashed walls decorated with tasteful artefacts from the NortheastgivesRosangCafé a feel of the Northeast without trying too hard. Mary wanted to not just promote Northeast cuisine but Northeast culture as well.
Mary says that for purely commercial reasons she had the choice to introduce fusion food, which she is sure would have appealed to a wider audience. She however, chose to promote authentic Northeast cuisine. Sticking to traditional recipes and ingredients that are sourced from the Northeast, Rosang Café cuts no corners. Rosang Café has its own office at Churachandpur, Manipur’s largest, ethnically diverse and economically better off district that sends the Café the needed herbs and spices on a regular basis. Some others are sent by friends and acquaintances from Meghalaya and Assam. So ‘authenticity’ of taste is not something that should worry you before you visit.
Besides the recipes and ingredients, there is Mary herself. A home-trained chef without any professional grooming, Mary was a passionate cook since her childhood. She learnt how to cook cuisines of the Northeast while at home and later as a student living in Shillong. The words “serving the Northeast on a platter” has often been used to describe what Rosang Café does. The menu offers dishes from across the Northeast -thukpa from Sikkim, tokhan from Tripura, ngatok from Arunachal Pradesh, dohneiiong from Meghalaya, iromba from Manipur, bai from Mizoram, axoni from Nagaland and bilahimasortenga from Assam…and so much more. The choice of what to include in the menu was made based on two things – what Mary knew how to cook and a desire to be all-inclusive respecting all 8 states of the Northeast. However, because of the large number of Assamese settled in Delhi, Rosang Café sees more of people from Assam visiting.
Then of course, there are guests from the mainland and abroad. Rosang Café draws them in throngs. Word-of-mouth and Facebook has put Rosang Café on Delhi’s food map. Of course, visitors need to have a ‘developed’ palate and be rather adventurous. The ‘raja mirchi’ for example is not for the faint-hearted but for Northeasterns, after days of eating roti, dal and sabji, nothing can awaken the palate or quench the soul more than a chutney with a couple of raja mirchis thrown in.80% of food at RosangCafé is cooked without oil and masala, just as we like it! As for guests from the mainland, Mary swears some have got addicted. A point of pride really.Rosang Café has seen its share of celebrity visitors including Chef Vikas Khanna, Chef SabyasachiGorai, actress Kalki, actor, AdilHussain and writer Arundhati Roy. Each one leaving impressed.
It’s not just visitors who are impressed. Many restaurants have tried to replicate Rosang Café without equal success. Type Rosang Café in Google and pages of reviews and interviews pop up. Mary takes pride in each one irrespective of size of publication or reach. She is touched by the appreciation she has received and of course, the welcome Delhi has given her. She now looks forward to franchising and hopefully putting Rosang Café on the international food map.
But for now to taste refreshing organic passion fruit drink, enjoy wild rice with vegetables and meat from the Northeast and end the meal with wild red rice kheer cooked with milk, ghee and jiggery, Rosang Café is the place to head to. Food aficionados have taken a fancy to Northeast cuisine. It’s about time we know / taste more of it as well and at the risk of being repetitive, nothing “serves Northeast on a platter” more than Rosang Café.