Meet the seventh sister

Updated: Oct 28, 2019, 07:58 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi, Karishma Kuenzang | Mumbai

It is likely that you haven't heard of this delivery service launched by a costume designer from Mizoram, but you should order right away if you want to be bowled by Northeastern flavours

Food: Authentic
Packaging: Neat
Service: Efficient
Cost: Reasonable
Verdict: 2/5

There is no point pretending that any of us here is Andrew Zimmern: a gastronome, chef, host and writer who co-curated popular TV show Bizarre Foods. But it is also important to consider one thing — someone's bizarre is someone else's normal. Even so, when it comes to food and because of the
direct manner in which we interact with it using smell, sound, taste, sight and emotion, apprehensions are bound to surface. And this scepticism, oddly, is magnified with specific cuisines.

In India, because of the lack of awareness around the culture in the Northeast and a certain apathy (evident from the racism directed at those who hail from the region) towards its people, the food, too, remains largely undiscovered. Anything you don't know much about, you tend to be suspicious of.

Josie Paris Renthlei
Josie Paris Renthlei

An interest however, is visible and it's being yielded by a handful of home chefs in the city who're trying to acquaint Mumbai's foodies with what is a really intriguing palate. Yet, we only found out about Josie's Kitchen — a pop-up and delivery venture started by Josie Paris Renthlei (a costume designer by day) earlier this year — by happenstance. We sampled a few dishes, packed neatly in foil and plastic containers, and it is safe to say that this is the perfect choice for someone looking to foray into Northeastern food.

Made with ingredients sourced from friends and family living in Mizoram, the food is unassuming and approachable, unlike say, the fare served at Thotrin Cafe in Kalina, where the smell or sight can easily put a squeamish person off. But most importantly, it is delicious. Here's what makes this hidden gem — functional all year round except when Renthlei is travelling — in Versova, an absolute must-try.

At Josie's Kitchen, Versova (delivery across Mumbai; charges applicable).
Time Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm
Call 9619630781 (call or message; order a day in advance)

Getting pasted

Chotrani (R100) is a fresh Mizo-style chutney comprising ginger, garlic, cilantro and smoked chilli. A redolent condiment, it had a sparkling zing despite not featuring any raja mircha, Northeast's go-to spice. This is best enjoyed with a simple meal of dal and rice.

(Clockwise from left) Spicy chicken, rice with beans and dal
(Clockwise from left) Spicy chicken, rice with beans and dal

What do you meal?

Renthlei's pithy menu has a segment called signature meals. From it, the spicy chicken meal (R550) is a delightful combination of a runny-yet-soothing dal, a portion of steamed rice topped with boiled beans, and a few drumsticks of marinated chicken, all of which when mixed with the piquant chutney it comes with could transport you to a verdant hill station. The chutney roots, cilantro, smoked chilli and onion is lower on spice when compared with the chotrani, but is packed with just as much flavour. It's tangy yet mild. Fabulous, really!

Pic/Rane Ashish
Pic/Rane Ashish

Bowl of goodness

Reminiscent of dal khichdi, sawchchiar (R150; known as chumthuk in Sikkim) is a comforting Mizo dish made with rice gruel, meat, veggies and Northeastern herbs. Renthlei's version was porridge-like without being lumpy or icky, and oozed of homely goodness. Perfect to try right now during Mumbai's unexpectedly extended monsoon.

Black beauty

Black beauty

The black sesame pork (R275) was a serving of tender meat covered in a creamy paste that was bursting with umami flavours. It wasn't too oily, which made it stand out, since cooking meat in black sesame is supposed to be a healthier alternative. There was a tinge of bitterness that comes with overcooking, but the overall taste was satisfying.

4/5 Exceptional, 3/5 Excellent, 2/5 very Good, 1/5 Good, 0.5/5 Average. Josie's Kitchen didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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