Matchbox cooks up a Naga storm

Other than the Northeast restaurants in Delhi, Matchbox at Hauz Khas Village and now at Gurgaon has been one brand in the pub segment that makes a conscious attempt to promote Northeast food and music. It is perhaps the first in its segment that went out of their regular menu, and did an Assamese food festival over lunch during Magh Bihu in January this year, not to forget the regular gigs of the Northeast bands that take place at the pub.

Now, they are bringing together two Naga chefs for a Naga food festival on November 9. The chefs cooking up the storm are Christine Hsiung and Sekho.  The menu includes dishes such as chicken liver and gizzard, potatoes with gold finger, shredded buff, spring chicken wings basket and pork ribs. There is also a Naga thali that comes with chicken and fresh herbs, steam rice dal, steamed vegetables, chutney and last but not the least pork with bamboo shoot.

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Most of us instantly associate Naga food with bamboo shoot, smoked meat, herbs and the indigenous chilli, but there is more to it, which defines its taste. Christine, who credits her parents for her food genes says, “Naga food does magic with simple and organic produce.  It belongs to the bold ones. Some may be deceiving in looks. Just because it doesn’t look red doesn’t mean it isn’t spicy. My father and I believe that the base to most of the Naga dishes is ginger, garlic and chillies but the real flavour comes when only organic and locally grown produce is used.” Christine adds that she will be cooking for the first time without her father, who has a profound impact on her cooking style. Christine says that her roasted pork ribs, marinated overnight in the choicest of spices can pep-up anyone’s mood.

Both Christine and Sekho learnt cooking under the watchful eyes of their parents. Sekho says, “Since my childhood, my mother would make me sit and watch her cook. Gradually, I started helping her with the cooking chores such as peeling and cutting vegetables. I used to get fascinated watching how a combination of different ingredients created a magical taste.”

For non-pork eaters Christine has some sumptuous chicken and vegetarian dishes. “There is a famous and widely loved vegetarian dish that we will be serving at the festival. So there is no escape or excuse that a vegetarian cannot attend this event. The dish is called potato with gold finger, it is cooked in caramelised onion, garlic and a lot of red chilli powder, it is served with golden fried fingers,” says Christine. Naga food has so much character, Christine talks about other integral Naga food such as smoked chicken, anishi, axone and buff. “Locally grown chicken is kept hung from a day to a few weeks so that it gets smoked in kitchen fire. It lasts for over a year. It is prepared with either fermented bamboo shoot or anishi (fermented taro leaves) and axone (fermented soya bean). Beef or buff can be had in two forms, you can experiment with many varieties, but typically it’s either dried or shredded and stew. The dried version tastes best with local beer,” signs off Christine.

Address: 30, 1st Floor, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, call: 09891917473, 09873047109

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