As the mercury rises and going to Dilli Haat becomes a Herculean task, we stumble into a new Northeastern eatery to sate our appetite for pork and chilli. Less than a month old, Bamboo Shoot Kitchen is tucked away in the bylanes of Lajpat Nagar’s Gupta Market and serves Naga, Manipuri and Assamese fare.
The restaurant is tiny, with a narrow corridor that is white on one side and wallpapered on the other with patterns of bamboo shoots. Bryan Adams and The Beatles croon from the speakers. The owner Sinthing is friendly and happy to guide us through the menu which, much like the space, is small and trim, though we’re told there will soon be more dishes, including a starters and a dessert section. In it’s current stage, the menu is divided according to meats and geography — the former offering a choice of chicken, pork, buff and fish, the latter a selection of vegetarian offerings from the three states.
Meat lovers have a choice among smoked meats, bamboo shoot meat and fish curries cooked in Manipuri and Assamese styles, as well as traditional Naga fare featuring Axone (meat cooked in a fermented soybean paste) and Anishe (fermented yam leaves). Those preferring greener pastures, sans livestock, can choose from dishes such as Kangshoi (a seasonal vegetable stew from Manipur), alu pitika (an Assamese version of mashed potatoes) and Rusup, a Naga mixed vegetables dish, among others. In the mix are also Galho, a kind of non-vegetarian khichdi, available in pork and buff versions, and an extremely reasonable Raja Mirchi chutney. The dishes are all pocket-friendly, probably making it a godsend for students, young professionals, and adults at the end of the month.
Since winter will soon be over, we decide to have a final protein overload — ordering dry fried pork, Manipuri Chicken Curry and the Buff with Bamboo Shoots, along with a serving of steamed rice and the Raja Mirchi chutney.
The pork comes first, chunks of it with an impeccable layering of melting fat and crisp meat, fried in a luxuriant amount of coconut oil and almost wantonly delicious, especially when dipped (ever so lightly) in the chutney, a rather fearsome affair served coquettishly in a clear glass bell jar.
Surprisingly (for us anyway) it’s the chicken that’s the stand-out dish — a home-style curry, its thin gravy smack full of flavour and scattered with paper-thin, lightly caramelized onion slices and dessicated tomato — and makes us question our fowl beliefs. Since there are no sweets yet, we are more than happy to partake of the complimentary black tea, phik se.
Meal for two: Rs 400 (including taxes,
Address: 4/8, Gupta Market, Lajpat Nagar IV