A Naga feast

Updated: Jul 18, 2019, 22:29 IST | Karishma Kuenzang

After opening restaurants in Delhi and Kathmandu, Karen Yepthomi will whip up authentic fare from the region at Lower Parel's St Regis every evening for the next 10 days

A Naga feast
Pork Ribs

For those who've been scrounging the city in search of authentic flavours from Nagaland, a 10-day festival at St Regis in Lower Parel should be a treat for you. For Karen Yepthomi, the chef and owner of Delhi's Dzukou Tribal Kitchen is bringing her entire menu and offering a buffet for Mumbaikars to come in and try traditional fare from the region.

Karen Yepthomi
Karen Yepthomi

Yepthomi, who grew up in Nagaland, before moving to Delhi and opening the eatery in 2011, opened her second outlet in Kathmandu in 2017, where she uses ingredients sourced from her homeland. Some of the signature preparations that will be served include anishi (fermented yam leaves), axone (fermented soya bean), fresh bamboo shoots, dried fish, akighi (raw beans) and Naga sticky rice. Explaining that these ingredients became a part of her diet back home due to their nutritional and health benefits, Yepthomi says, "The smoked pork with anishi (fermented yam leaves paste) is more nutritious than other pork preparations because yam leaves contain vitamins A and C, riboflavin, fibre and iron. Yam leaves and roots have been used for years in traditional Naga medicine to help reduce symptoms associated with asthma, nausea and inflammation. This paste is one of the most popular ingredients used by us. The leaves are placed in a bamboo basket for days until they turn yellow, post that it is ground in a wooden bowl. We then wrap it in banana leaves and cook it in a low flame, following which it's dried in the sun till it hardens and becomes black in colour," she informs.

Axone curry with veggies; (above) ; (below) The traditional Naga headgear

Similarly, their chicken with dry bamboo shoots is oil-free and hence, healthy. Other preparations you can try out include fish with bamboo shoots, smoked meat curry cooked with kidney beans, smoked pork with black sesame seeds, axone curry with veggies, fresh pork with bamboo shoots, yam curry and pork ribs. "We haven't tweaked the preparations at all, but have toned down the usage of the raja mircha due to how overpoweringly hot it can be. The rest of it is exactly how we have it back home. We're sourcing all the fermented ingredients and herbs from Nagaland," she tells us.

The traditional Naga headgear

Besides the food, Padma Shri awardee photographer Pablo Bartholomew will conduct an illustrated talk on Nagas and tribal lifestyle, giving people an insight into the culture and culture of the state. The festival will also feature handmade tribal products such as clothes, weaves and jewellery by designer Nengneithem Hengna's clothing brand.

ON July 19 to 28, 7 pm onwards
AT Seven Kitchens, level 9 M, St Regis, Lower Parel.
Email stregismumbai.dining@stregis.com
Cost Rs 2,800

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