Bangalore restaurant reviews Foodie adventures

Mizoram Food Festival at The ANTS Cafe

Thursday, July 01, 2010Me! In words

When we heard that there was a Mizoram Food Festival on, we jumped at the chance. I called the Ants Cafe and informed them that we were coming almost right away. The Ants Craft Trust, registered as a Public Charitable Trust in 2009 at Bangalore is an offshoot of THE ANT, a voluntary organization working on development issues in the northeast. Besides showcasing the arts and culture of the Northeast, they also have occasional festivals such as these to promote knowledge of the area. We missed a recently conducted Naga Food Festival.

The food was served in buffet style and had a very very homely touch to it. Those who did the serving at the buffet counters came across as one big, happy family and that sort of added to the ambience of homeliness. This will be more a photo review, so here goes

Passion Fruit Juice in bamboo glasses

To begin with, we were served Passion fruit juice in beautiful crafted bamboo glasses. The trick was to drink from the tip of the glass and not from the rounded edge. The fruit juice was really pleasant and we were told that the fruit had been sourced directly from Mizoram. And now the food.

Satui Hang (Chicken Soup)

We began with the Satui Hang or the Chicken Soup. This was a clear chicken soup, which contrary to the way it looks did not taste like Indianized Chinese soup. Rather the taste of herbs was very distinctive. Josephine, the PR person for this event, explained that there are several herbs local to Mizoram that are used in the cooking and are generally not found elsewhere. Large doses of mint too heightened the taste of the soup. 

Arsa Buhchiar (Chicken Porridge)

Next came Arsa Buhchiar or chicken porridge which was to my mind like a chicken steam rice, only taken a step or two forward. These steps were mighty tasty ones I must add. The porridge was thick, creamish in texture and tasted light. Again, a few local Mizo herbs at work here. Josephine suggested we serve this to junior, but knowing our champ, we ended up eating her share as well, which was a good thing, you see. And then came the two varieties of pork. 

Vawksa Rep (Smoked Pork with Bamboo Shoots)

Vawklu Bawl ( Pork Head with sesame and spices)

Sudhakar and I love our pork and to have them in two unique ways was a delight. To begin with, the Vawksa Rep. This was smoked pork with bamboo shoots. Smoking here is done on bamboo and the smell and flavor imparted in earthy and very very different from what we are used to. This is then boiled with bamboo shoots which gives it that add crunch and texture. The Vawklu Bawl is pork head with sesame and spices. Again, a thick gravy-ish sort of dish where herbs play a huge role. Delicious even to someone like me who is not much for non-conventional parts of meat. 

Sangha Kan (Fish in Sauce)

Another item on this buffet menu was the Sangha Kan (Fish in Sauce). Now when you say sauce here, it is not the thick cornflour based sauces that conditioned minds like ours tend to image. In fact, this is a light herb based sauce which has a generous dose of vegetable slivers added to it. Again the look of the dish may be familiar to some common styles of fish preparation, but the taste was something totally new. 

Chhum Han (Steamed vegetables)

Chhum Han (steamed veggies). Is there a better way to eat your vegetables. I, for one don't think so. This was a mix of carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and beans. 

Bete (Stripe Bean Dal)
Chaw and Bawngsa mai leh tomata nena kan
(Rice and beef curry with pumpkin and tomato) 

Chaw (steamed rice) had two options to go with it, the Bete (stripe bean dal) which seemed like the equivalent of a light rajma and a divine beef curry. I also feel that a cook who has managed to get their beef tender has managed to nail the dish. And this was both tender and absolutely great. The tomato and pumpkin were pureed and cooked along with a melange of herbs and spices and made for a great meal. 

Bai bing leh Hmarcha te rawt (Chutney)
Bekang (fermented soya with chillies)


Though not served with every meal, Mizo food has a number of spicy chutneys and accompaniments to go with it. We sampled the two above. Bai bing, Josephine told us is made from a particular plant. The leaves are boiled and then mashed with the choicest of fiery chillies. Was it good.... of course it was... but a warning here, your palate will need to be familiar with the concept fire-breathing before you attempt both of them. The same with the fermented soya which did have me breathing fire for a while. I was glad I still had some of my passion fruit juice left. But, being a 'theeka' lover, I was in heaven. 

There were a few small dishes our groaning tummies could not handle. This was the Bai (vegetable stew). It seemed like a light broth of a number of vegetables. There were also smaller dishes like the Fanghma (cucumber salad). There was bitter gourd stuffed with chilli flakes etc. The meal end with black tea which the menu said was to be sweetened with jaggery. We were given sugar cubes. I am assuming I should have asked for the jaggery. It was a real tummy settler. There was also paan as we left.

Paan and Black tea


I was really kicked about this meal. Rest assured, the next time Ants Cafe holds a food festival, we will be there. This buffet was for Rs 350 per head. There is a restroom downstairs in the boutique which is good enough. 


Address: #2023/B, 1st Cross, 14th A Main, Hal 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore - 560038
Phone: 41715637
Cuisine: Northeastern (region specific/dependent on festival), Cafe style food on other days
Cards Accepted: Cash for festivals
Parking: Nothing exclusive and can get tricky during festivals

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