Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Naga Kitchen: for Gahori-lovers

Gahori. n. 1. Assamese word for pig, 2. commonly used slang for my dear, beloved friends.

I have heard of the Naga Kitchen arriving to Bangalore a couple of years ago. In fact, I once had a taste of the Bangalore version of the Naga Kitchen at the Assamese Bihu Function held in Bangalore, and I remembered the food being sold out within seconds after being displayed at the stall. Well, that's what good Naga food does: It disappears... fast!

For those who don't know what Naga Kitchen is- it is simply a kitchen wherein lip-smacking Naga food is cooked. The first Naga Kitchen opened in Guwahati, perhaps 4 years back (not sure!) and I still remember how swollen and stung my lips felt after having their dry-fish chutney. Teary-eyed, relishing, good Naga food.

Though I have been told of the happy news that the Naga Kitchen arrived in the Koramangala neighborhood a few months ago, yet it was not until last month that I had some gahori-lovers (re: pork-lovers) who took me to this place.

I'm happy to say that the place is not pretentious. It is not pretentious from the outside or from the interiors or from the food aspect. The place gives me a vibe of being back in the North East; (I don't mean sitting in the Guwahatian version of the restaurant which was a bit too dark for my liking). I mean, the feel of wood, the sights of bamboo and cane artifacts, the wall hangings of things pre-dominantly Naga, pieces of Naga handloom framed on the wall. The place felt so much closer to home.

And the food... well, I cannot comment on what is available on the menu. My apologies. I didn't want to go through the menu when I knew perfectly well what I wanted to eat. The Naga Thali. All four of us ordered four thalis. Three Gahori Thali vs. One Chicken Thali.

I must say that I was an equal lover of pork and chicken and didn't know why pork-lovers made such a fuss about gahori being superior; however, that's all changed after my trip to the Naga Kitchen. Now I know why Gahori-lovers wring their noses on the mention of Chicken or Gahori-lovers go to the ends of the world to find a kitchen that serves succulent pork.

With both Pork and Chicken on my palate, Pork won hands down. Both were cooked in the same style with onions, garlic, chilli and tomato being the dominant ingredients but it helped that Pork has its own fat that gives a pure, distinctive relish. The Chicken just felt blah!

Besides the pork curry, we were also served with smoked-brinjal chutney, chilli chutney, vegetable stew, fried pork (which was seriously yum) Naga-style dal and steamed rice. We attacked the food in silence with "mmm"s and more "mmmm"s in between bites.

Even while I write this, my mouth slowly waters as I reminisce the taste of that delightful gahori.

Let's just say, all is good at The Naga Kitchen. I was mightily pleased with the thali. Though, if I may add, my lips didn't swell with the sting of chilli like it did the last time. Maybe, just maybe, they did not spice the food enough because I don't remember feeling "comfortable" after a Naga meal. If you know what I mean... we are suppose to feel the chilli-burn gnawing away our intestines after an intensive session of hogging Naga-style gahori (pun, obviously intended!). Nonetheless, it was a damn good meal. We "oooh"ed and "aah"ed with satisfaction. We felt our tummies touch the floor as we walked (rather, rolled) out of the restaurant.

For those still uninitiated into Naga-kingdom of food, you may find the cuisine to be very different from regular Indian food. I cannot explain it. It is not correct for me to explain it. You have to go there yourself and taste it!

The Koramangala branch is at 112, 6th Cross Road, 6th Block, Koramangala.

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