Simplistic, wooden interiors, tribal weapons, few Naga paintings, and subtle lighting - that’s all it takes to put together a classy, little Naga restaurant. The Naga Kitchen, that was set up in Koramangala just six months ago, has found its niche. Serving authentic Nagaland cuisine, the restaurant also caters to people who are not sticklers for tradition and want to opt for the more popular Chinese fare.
Naga food typically consists of rice, boiled vegetables, bamboo, yam leaves, meat and different kinds of sauces and chutneys that will set fire to your taste buds. Naga folk sure know how to use those spices, and use them generously, they do. All the cooks at the Naga Kitchen are from Nagaland, lending the food its touch of authenticity.
For starters, we had the ‘Smoked Pork Chops’, deliciously tender, with a full, woody flavor to it because of the specific manner in which it was prepared. In traditional Naga houses, the meat is left hanging above the kitchen fire for days to get that smoked flavour. However, at the restaurant, they’ve made use of a smoking machine, which cooks the meat in four to five hours.
The main course is quite simple, but comes with a lot of variety in meat and methods of preparations. We picked the pork curry with bamboo shoots and the chicken curry that was made of yam leaves or ‘anishii’. The pork curry definitely came out on the top, with its delicately balanced flavours of the mint leaves and mustard oil mixing with pork fat, and the fragrance of the bamboo shoots tickling your senses as you savour the curry with hot rice.
A bonus point of the restaurant is that they serve food in plates made of bamboo, the authentic way of eating Naga food. We were told that hollowed bamboo shoots were often used as vessels for cooking rice and fish, infusing them with hints of bamboo flavour.
For accompaniments, we were served mashed potatoes, dried shrimp chutney, and fermented soya beans chutney or ‘akhuni chutney’. Each one of them, varying in texture and taste, could hold their own, in any meal. The dried shrimp chutney in particular had a very strong, pungent flavour to it, which needs getting used to. If you are of the brazenly adventurous sorts, you must try the ‘Raja mirch’ chutney or the ‘King chilli’ chutney, as it is called here.
The Naga Kitchen also serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis that are perfectly balanced meals, great for the health because they use very little oil, which comprises a Naga curry, mashed potatoes, a bowl of fresh steamed veggies, fried chicken or pork, a non-vegetarian stew and rice, and all of that at an affordable price. So if you’re looking for piquant food, a quiet place to unwind with family or even a first date and don’t mind trying out a new cuisine, this is where you go - the Naga Kitchen.