There’s something about biting into a piece of grilled pork with off the bone meat and fat that just bursts in your mouth. And it is a surprise that the best spare ribs to be had are usually found at the Naga eateries around Delhi. This piece is the first part of the Delhi’s North Eastern food guide by Sup Delhi. We’re dedicating it to just the Naga jaunts because there are so many.
Dilli Haat Naga stall-For a typical Delhite, the introduction to Naga food usually takes place at the naga stall at Dilli Haat. And it makes for a good start. The open air seating and relaxed vibes make for a good place to experiment with new cuisine. Just that the Naga stall isn’t really the best of naga food you can get, that’s minus the spare ribs of course. Try the Pork thali, it’ll give you a taste of everything; the boiled veggies, dal and pork. They usually give sticky rice and a dollop of raja mircha chutney. For the novice, raja mircha or the ghost chilli, known as bhoot jholokia in Nagaland is the world’s second most hottest chilli. Touching it and then touching any part of your face is a no-no. But do go ahead and add just a tad bit in your mix of daal rice and pork curry.
Where: Dilli Haat, INA, New Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: INA
Nagaland Kitchen-They are the ones who run the stall at dilli haat as well but they do their dishes a lot better here. Dine in if you want but they do a good deal with delivering to almost the whole of Delhi, just with a little bit extra cost.
Do order some extra chutney’s like the dry fish chutney and the axone chutney. To elaborate, axone is a fermented preparation made from soya beans. It brings about a special umami flavour to the Naga food, some love it while others can’t stand it. Make a choice between smoked or normal pork with a choice of having it with bamboo shoot, yam, axone. Not trying to overwhelm our tastebuds we usually don’t do smoked pork with bamboo shoot but there’s no rule for it. For simple yet well made and great tasting food, Nagaland kitchen might get a little steep at times. A must try nevertheless.
Where: S2 Uphaar Cinema Complex, Green Park Extension, New Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: Green Park
Hornbill Cafe- To get a taste of more authentic Naga food and at a cheaper price get yourself to Humayunpur at Safdarjung, the hub of North Eastern food. Behind the NCC campus is a hoard of eateries that are ready to treat your taste buds with delicacies of the seven sisters. Hornbill Cafe is one of those that takes care of the Naga cuisine very well. Walk down to the basement of this tiny cafe and you’ll see dim lighting, low seating and homely music playing. Get the wifi password and order your food. The guys running the show here take immense care in their preparations. Sourcing their ingredients from the homeland itself they make you feel comfortable with the cuisine by recommending dishes that they think you’d like the best. And it works. We had the smoked pork with yam and axone (yam is somewhat of a cross between a sweet potato and potato) which was brilliant. So flavourful you cant stop eating. We also had the pork innards, not for the faint hearted, tart and punchy flavours of liver, intestines and whatnot in this one. The chef’s special chicken is smoked chicken with pungent onions in mayo. This sounds weird but was one of the best things we had on our table. Their wooden cutlery makes the affair more earthy and relaxed. Order loads of rice and daal as everything will be extra hot.
Where: 104/A, Basement Backside NCC Gate, Safdarjung, New Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: Green Park
Dzukou-Take your naga experience up a notch with this tribal kitchen that is in the heart of Hauz Khas (earlier Hauz Khas Village). Done up in tribal naga decor and scented with the freshness of lemongrass it is a surprise to find such a place after climbing up to the third floor. Try the smoked buff salad, as it is exceptional and also because you don’t get it elsewhere. Their curries are mostly the same but their preparation is a lot different. Very high on the heat of the chilis and less on oil, The staff is courteous, though a little slow on the English but let that not bother you. Dig your teeth into ribs, double fried pork. Buff chutney, dal and a pork curry of your choice. Your tastebuds will surely be on fire but you’ll keep on chowing down till the very last bite. When you ask for something sweet they suggest you drink water or smoke a cigarette ‘cause apparently that’s what the Nagas do.
Where: E-22, 3rd Floor, Main Market, Hauz Khas, New Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: Green Park, New Delhi
Bamboo Hut- is another option for Naga deliciousness. Just that for a change it is in North Campus. Saturdays give you a special of pork entrails. Just like the pork innards of Hornbill Cafe be aware of what you’re going for. A very simple and hard to find place, but a gem nonetheless. Look for special dal and pork dishes that will shake your soul and make your tongue tingle for more. A budget friendly place.
Nearest Metro Station: GTB Nagar
Where: 1598 Outram Lines, Kingsway Camp, New Delhi
Bonus: Get your fix of naga ingredients, including authentic smoked meats, raja mircha, oyster and shitake mushrooms all in one place at Nengshen’s shop near Druk restaurant in Humayunpur. It is a tiny hole in the wall shop which carters to all your Naga cuisine needs and some add ons as well. Get a hold of the dry beef chutney and the dry shrimps to make those heavy flavoured curries.