Bengaluru has been lately a host to several food festivals. If some were a mish-mash of global cuisines, others focused on a specific part of the country.
But what sets apart a food festival at the Baluchi Restaurant of the Lalit Ashok Hotel is that it raises curtains on one of the least explored, yet rich cuisine of Northeast India.
Not only does it bring something of every state of the northeast to our plate, but it also leaves its authentic flavour for us to relish.
My experience of the ‘Magic of North-East Festival’ at the Baluchi began with the ‘Lamb Gyathuk’, a noodle soup cooked with lamb and refreshing spices of Sikkim. The first spoon of the soup transported me back to Gangtok, where I had tasted the soup for the first time two years ago.
The whiff of fresh, well-cooked lamb and spices take you to the cosy cafes of Sikkim nestled in the misty mountains.
The head chef, Baldev Singh Rawat, true to his word, has brought back the authentic flavours of the Northeast after his two-year-long stint in Assam.
The rustic tribal flavours that involve lots of fermentation was presented to us in its originality in every dish.
The experience was taken to a whole new level with starters.
First, we had the ‘Chicken Khorika’, chicken on the bamboo skewers roasted in clay oven.
‘Misa Mach Poora’ is made with shrimps cooked with onions, coriander, peppercorns and lime juice. Wrapped in banana leaf, the fragrance hits the fragrance hits you right when you open it.
The vegetarian starters were no less. The ‘Koat Pita’, a dish from Mizoram, is basically deep-fried fritters with rice flour and banana, was addictive. The slightly sweet fritters remind you of similar dishes from South India and fit well in the course of dishes that are sour, spicy and tangy.
The main course thali was served next and it matched its visual beauty with its variety of flavours and fragrance.
‘Xaak Bhaaji’, which was on the lines of aloo-methi with mixed greens flavoured with cumin, garlic, red chilli, had the right balance of spice.
From Sikkim, we were served ‘Panch Phoran Tarkari’, a mixed vegetable preparation.
The non-veg main course included ‘Kumurat Diya Murgir Mangxo’, chicken curry cooked with ash gourd. But the real showstopper for us ‘Masor Tenga’, a tangy fish curry. Chef Rawat suggested that we try it with Joha rice, an aromatic rice. The dishes were light yet flavourful.
The dishes offered were cooked in mustard oil, as it is done traditionally.
Though the meals were heavy, we still had enough room left for dessert.
The Manipuri rice kheer and ‘Narikol Laddu’ did not disappoint us. made with coconut, the laddu was soft and the kheer had a distinct flavour, quite different from the ones we are used to having from South. The chef attributed the flavour to the black rice that was used to kheer.
It is not every day that we get a glimpse into the rich culture and cuisine of the seven sisters.
This festival does justice to the richness of the northeastern culture and brings to our tables, not just the authentic taste, but an unforgettable experience as well.
To experience the ‘Magic of North-East Festival’ at the Baluchi visit The Lalit Ashok.
nDates: From Jaunary 19 to 28 (12:30 pm to 3 pm and 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm)
nFor one person - Veg (Rs 1,200+tax)
nNon-veg (Rs 1,500+tax)
For reservations, call 3052 7777.