An array of pork delicacies at Naga food festival

Succulent fare

It’s rare for a food festival to focus on only one object but the Naga Awoshi festival at Dzukou Tribal Kitchen has done just that by focussing on pork and serving up a mind-boggling 20 varieties – literally from tip to tail.

“I am a cook and I wanted to do something different. I have no background in the hospitality industry but I've become successful without any formal training,” Dzukou owner and head chef Karen Yepthomi told IANS over a refreshing vodka with just a trace of lime juice that was served up to beat the blistering heat.

“We’re still experimenting and I'm glad to say that 80 per cent of our clientele are non-easterners,” she added as one took in the ambience of the 50-cover outlet in south Delhi's Hauz Khas market: a rustic, earthly feel with uncemented brick walls and lots and lots of thatch on the roof, rattan chairs and long tables that can be divided into cosy sit-downs for two or four at the drop of a cloth divider.

It was time for the starter and this came in the shape of succulent pork belly wrapped in a spinach leaf.“Ideally, it should be wrapped in a mustard leaf but that is hard to get here,” said Karen, who sources all the ingredients from back home.

“Try this chutney,” she said with a wicked gleam and the moment it touched the tongue, one knew why: the concoction of green chilli, garlic and tomato was a bomb - to say the least.

Going down memory lane, Karen said the present location was the outlet's second in the city.“We opened in 2012 in the Hauz Khas Village with two floors just off the lake. We had the fourth floor and the roof and it was quite picturesque and eco-friendly but we had to shut down on some issues. Still, we’re quite happy here,” Karen said.

“Actually, I started out in 2011 marketing Naga handicrafts but then the cook in me took over and here I am,” she added with an expansive smile.It was now time to wade into the main course and this came together – red sticky rice, pork head, liver and trotters.

“This kind of red sticky rice is available only in Nagaland,” Karen said as she served it out.
The beauty about the food was that it could be eaten individually or together because the tastes had the ability to blend just perfectly.
The pork head was done medium and required a bit of determined chewing, the liver just melted and the trotters were extremely crunchy.Another gleam, another “try this” and one was ready to take off into space. “Khatarnak hai (It’s a whammer),” said Karen of the red chilli and olive oil accompaniment that goes with just about any dish from the main course.

There was a lot more - pork shoulder, pork chops, spare ribs, minced pork, minced pork rice and pork salad - to name just a few – and it all looked very inviting indeed but with one’s small appetite one needed to call a stop.

Dzukou Tribal Kitchen, in fact, goes much beyond being just a restaurant. There are evenings with live music and, earlier this year, an evening celebrating the success stories of people from the eight northeastern states who have made a mark for themselves in fields like music, arts and fashion.

“You see that thing there,” Karen said pointing to a square platform where a group was relaxing comfortably against bolsters as they ate.“The rug and bolsters come off and it becomes a stage,” she added.

That surely is ingenuity and the perfect end to a perfect meal on a perfect afternoon.

FAQs:

E-22, third floor, Hauz
     Khas Market
Equidistant from Green
     Park and Hauz Khas
     Metro stations
Meal for two: Rs1,200
     (without alcohol)
Timings: 12.30 pm
to 11 pm.

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