Naga food is one of the most underrated cuisines in India. Some say, it’s the lack of availability of the raw ingredients that make it such and few say, the dishes are underexposed to the outsiders. But almost in all the major cities in India, there are state government run canteens providing interesting food and Kolkata is no exception. There is Nagaland House in Kolkata with an open-to-all canteen and here is my experience at the one in Salt Lake.
- Phone numbers for query: 033 23350124 / 9831185375
- Opening hours: 11 am – 2 pm, 7:30 pm – 9 pm
Getting inside and the ambiance
You might question me why the heading is such. I mean one is supposed to get in to have food. But for some strange reason, the gatekeeper at Nagaland House Kolkata is not very cooperative here. If someone asks him the location for the canteen, he will bombard the poor soul of hundreds of questions. I’m not sure what is the reason, but you need to cross him smartly to climb those few steps to reach the reception.
The reception people are friendly and ready to help. They’ll guide you to the 2nd floor. Take the lift. The canteen is a nice room with AC with a few tables and chairs thrown around. The inside is not that professionally managed. I mean they are clean, but please do not expect someone to greet you inside. Please set in and if you don’t see anyone taking your order, please feel free to walk to the counter and order yourself to the kitchen.
The menu is pretty simple, there are 3 thalis- fish chicken and pork thali and you need to choose your pick.
About the food
The first time at Nagaland House Kolkata canteen, I’ve ordered for their Pork thali. The service was pretty fast. I mean, the dishes are mostly prepared. Rice, Dal, boiled vegetable and Aloo achar is the same everywhere and only the meat or fish is changed. Portion size is huge, as you can check from the picture.
The amount of rice that was served to me, can easily be shared by two persons with reasonable appetite.
The dal was average fare. The achar was made by using boiled potato and in all probability, akhuni. Akhuni is garmented soybean and is widely used in Naga cuisine. IT has got a very typical smell, which is either loved or hated. As I am very regular to North-Eastern part of our country, I am pretty used to the smell, so quite liked it.
But somehow, I couldn’t really like the boiled vegetable. It was just some boiled squash pieces and cabbage leaves without any seasoning. The boiled veggies, that I’ve tasted in Nagaland, are accompanied with the fiery Raja Mirchi achar- so the seasoning part was taken cared of. But after the first spoon, I actually couldn’t take the second one.
The taste of the pork curry was pretty good. The smell of Bamboo shoot was there, but mostly it was a runny curry with 5-6 pork pieces. Now I am quite biased in this thing. I love lean meat and for some reason, mostly meat with high-fat content is used in Naga cuisine. And the pork curry at Nagaland House canteen was no exception.
But that was not the problem, I know it would be like this. The problem is, the pork pieces were unclean and I could actually see the hair there and frankly, didn’t like that personally. The curry was delicious- the fiery spice quotient was mellowed down and it tasted really good. But, somehow it turned me off.
The surprise element
And then came the surprise. I ordered their fish curry and let me tell you, it was damn good. It had corse grind ginger and roughly cut coriander leaves and that had made the difference to the runny curry, in the positive direction. They had two Darne cut piece from the rohu fish and overall, the dish was a good choice.
My final take …
Overall, I’ve been at the Nagaland House Kolkata canteen thrice and it was a pretty mixed experience for me. While the pork meat was unclean on two visits, while the curry tasted good, I loved the fish curry on all the visits. The pricing is damn good and is extremely value for money.
During my visits at Kohima in Nagaland, I’ve found that cuisine to be something which used very very less masala (spices) and more ingredients and herbs to impart the flavor. Now I am not so sure whether they adapted the food according to the local palate or what, but this hardly is a typical Naga meal. Maybe it was bad days at the office, or maybe I was being over-critical, but this is what I personally felt.
Bon appetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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