Foodie adventures

Tangkhul Naga food festival at ANTS cafe

Wednesday, October 27, 2010Me! In words

The ANTS cafe had organized yet another North-eastern food festival. This time it was the turn of the Tangkhul Nagas to provide us with a great feast. The last one I had been to was the Mizoram food festival and the smoked pork dish is still something I dream of. Anyways, it was the day we had arrived from Mangalore and though pooped from the journey, we still managed to make it there. So here are the pictures and will explain each one as I go. The meal started off with shaksha theira (gooseberry juice) and heikha theira (plum juice). These was served in bamboo glasses and its the only one I forgot to take a photo of. I had gooseberry while Sudhakar had plum... they were sweetened just right so as not to actually spoil the taste of the fruit. 

There was plain rice to be had with most of the dishes. As accompaniments there was Kasatheinat (a special Tangkul naga chutney). The Naga cooking, as is most of north-eastern cuisine is made up of a number of herbs and natural ingredients. This chutney was loaded with some of their spiciest chillies and some greens as well. Not something most of us will be able to pick apart. But the taste makes your palate stand at attention and salute. Am not really sure what the one next to it was though. It seemed a milder version of the chutney. I could be wrong though. 

Kasatheinat (a special Tangkul naga chutney)

Next came the Korbula which are a variety of snails. These are a specialty dish even among the Nagas. We were told that the present season (October-November) is the time when they are found in plenty. They are boiled with some herbs, chillies and then tossed with some onions and coriander. There is a technique to eating them. You start at the small cone shaped opening on the top. Suck for all you are worth. And then move on to the bigger opening at the side and suck out the meat from there. Though small, these snails will have you reaching for more. 

Korbula (snails)

Representing the vegetarian part of their cuisine was the vegetable curry, which was more white with greens that anything we are normally used to. The gravy was on the slightly bland side, but quite interesting. The ooti (dal) which was a mix of dal and a form of peas. Put it down to exhaustion that I just couldn't figure out which one. This was pleasant too. 

Vegetable curry (L) Ooti (dal) (R)

The menu mentioned boiled vegetable and this was whole beans that had been boiled. I am sure you have never eaten them this was and it was different but was boiled vegetables. A very very interesting dish was the harsa kasathei khamanat (shredded chicken and chilly). Next time this dish is served, they need to have a hotline to the fire brigade installed next to the serving dish. This was shredded chicken tossed with shreds of fresh coriander, mint and shredded green chillies and drizzle of lemon juice. If you are lucky, a bite or two may not really have the chilli in it. But you will know you have some in your mouth when you feel a wasabi like smack on the face. But trust me... you will go back for more... I did!!

Boiled Veggies (L) harsa kasathei khamanat
(shredded chicken and chilly)

Next came my all time favorite - pork, here called Hok Shayung. This was a smoked dry pork and though it did have the smoky flavor it was much milder compared the one we had at the Mizo festival. But the taste factor just could not be ignored. Some parts of the meat had been singed from the smoking and the fat was well covered with the herb and chilli based marinade. Yummy!

Hok Shayung (smoked pork)

As an accompaniment was also the theishui (fermented soya bean). We had this at the Mizo festival and here again, it was the Mizo one that made us fire breathing dragons. All the same, this version was great as well. And went perfectly with the chicken curry we had next. 

Theishui (fermented soya bean)

The harsa (chicken curry) was without any pieces. The speciality of this dish was that the gravy was made from chicken fat and not any other oil. It did have a greasiness to it, but not in an unpleasant manner. Its the accompaniments that bring out its actual flavor when mixed with the rice. 

Harsa (chicken curry)

There was local made Nimbu Champra (spelling questionable) lemon pickle. I don't know why I skipped that but I did and when I look at the picture now, I regret it. After that came the seisa kao (dry beef). Small hunks of beefs in a thickish brown gravy. Its one of those dishes that don't need anything to go with it. You can just eat is as is and we pretty much did that. 

Nimbu champra (above)
Seisa Kao (dry beef) (Below)

The meal was rounded off which some athei (fruit salad). This and the juice provided the tummy cooling we were so in need of. 

Athei (fruit salad)

ANTS has been doing a brilliant job of promoting all that is North-eastern. Food is like a universal language and what better way to introduce people to something new. The cafe has regular food festivals along with talks and handicraft exhibitions all centered around the north east. This buffet meal was for Rs 350 a head. 

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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