Bangalore restaurant reviews budget eating

The Naga Kitchen

Wednesday, January 05, 2011Me! In words

I was first introduced to the cuisine of the northeast at the food festivals that the Ants Cafe has on a regular basis. So far we have made it to the Nagaland and the Mizoram festivals and thoroughly enjoyed what we had. The food of this region is completely sans multiple ingredient masalas that we are accustomed to. It has a lot of the local herbs and spices and is largely boiled and smoked. And also, it is a meat lovers paradise, not to say that they don't have some great vegetarian dishes, keyword being some here. The Naga Kitchen is across the border for us considering its in Kamanahalli, but we journeyed on one Sunday night. 

The restaurant is done up in a bamboo/wood set up, with wooden benches and cane chair seating arrangement. Christmas decorations were already up and Anoushka headed straight for the tree. Also the bright shiny stars stuck into each one of the bamboos planters on the table made for a nice touch. Though the place is semi-open, being on the rooftop, it wasn't that chilly despite the time of the year. 

The table setting in a corner 

The star on the table

We chose the benches and one that was closest to the service window. One look at the specials menu and our stomachs were rumbling. There was King Chilli Chutney, Crab gravy, momos and a whole lot more. The regular menu had us zeroing in on the pork section. And this is what we settled on - Smoked pork with Akhuni, Naga Chicken curry with steamed rice, a chicken fried rice for Anoushka and after a lot of debate - the King Chilli chutney. The food is served in wooden bowls with wooden serving spoons. The quantities were just right for us three adults, considering Anoushka had two helpings of her chicken fried rice. 

A look at the entire spread - the little bowl of green is a chilli chutney
to go with the fried rice

Smoked pork with Akhuni

Akhuni is fermented soyabean and an integral part of Naga cuisine, especially with the Sumi tribe. It has a rather pungent smell and can take some getting used to. The pork we ordered was smoked along with Akhuni. Smoking is generally done on bamboo as we learnt at the Ants Cafe. However, in this case, I found the pork a bit tough and chewy. The flavor was great, but it took a while going down. This was completely in contrast to what we had at the Tangkul Naga food festival at Ants. Maybe a difference in the process! Anyways, this was our starter.

Naga Chicken Curry

The next was the steamed rice with Naga Chicken Curry. The chicken curry was slightly thickish in consistency. Almost like egg drop soup. Makes you feel like that cornflour may have been used to thicken it. But I make no claims to knowing how the consistency was arrived at. After that mini rambling, I have to say that chicken curry tasted great. It was neither spicy or heavy. And with the wallop from the King Chilli chutney, it made one of the greatest meals ever. 

Plain Rice

The chicken fried rice for Anoushka was completely different from what we are used to. It was not dry and a bit undercooked like most fried rice dishes are. Rather it felt more like an oriental pulao of sorts. Moist, the grains of rice well cooked and could be eaten as is. No need to dunk in gravy to get it down. Once we were done with the rice and chicken curry, we polished off this as well.

Chicken fried rice

And now for the highlight of the evening - the King Chilli Chutney. The King Chilli is known by a lot of names - jolokia, bhoot jholokia, Naga chilli and others. It currently is the second hottest chilli in the world. It give you an understanding, Wikipedia states that in 2009 scientists at DRDO announced plans to use it in the making of non-lethal weapons to flush enemies out of hideouts. In terms of heat, it is 100 times hotter than the jalapenos that you get on your pizzas. And for those of who you can't yet get the picture, attempting to eat a full King chilli will make you a good case study for spontaneous human combustion. Only here people will know the reason why!

This chilli is seasonal and harvested in July. Dried and fresh versions are used to make the chutney. It is coarsely pounded together in a mortar and pestle, with tomatoes, garlic and bit of coriander. The staff brought us a King chilli to look at and told us we could have a small bit of it if we liked. Sudhakar wanted to take it on and the video will tell you what happened next. 

When you taste your first bit of King Chilli chutney, the effect is more of the delayed reaction types you see in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. A small fire set on your tongue that takes a few seconds to sink in before the yelp for help. Its more like 24-gun salute in your mouth, only here gunpowder is substituted with spice and instead of the sky lighting up, its all your senses that are set ablaze. Once the tears are done re-routing your mascara and your stomach has become a well with the water you have drunk, the King chilli chutney is guaranteed to have you reaching for more. Spice is not the only factor to judge this by, it does have a  great flavor and is one you will remember for a long time after the meal.  

King Chilli Chutney
The Adventures of Sudhakar - the King Chilli conquest

The King Chilli itself

I enjoyed the meal at Naga Kitchen. I will definitely be back for more when in that part of the country. The meal came to a pleasant Rs 575 and its roundabouts. The loo could do with some work but the dining area is spotless. 

Address: #26, AVS Arcade, Opp Adidas Showroom, Near Nandhini Hotel, Kamanahalli, Bangalore 
Phone: 41732012
Cuisine: Naga Cuisine
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Nothing exclusive and you need to be lucky

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