Walking along the meandering lanes of Hauz Khas village and climbing up two stories of a steep staircase, I am greeted by an affable and smiling Mary Lalboi, the owner of Rosang café and store. Mary is from Mizoram and settled in Manipur. In 2003 she decided to move to Delhi along with her chef husband to start a small café at Munirka. Ten years later, she has now made a beginning at the more upmarket HKV. I am pretty excited to be here, because Rosang offers food from all the north eastern states and I am bound to have my fill of exotica.
The interiors are done in a north eastern style with a lot of jewellery and black pottery displayed on the walls. There is an elaborate north eastern store upstairs selling jewellery, wraparounds, pottery and jute basket from these states. Every Saturday is a green food bazaar, where fresh herbs and rice are flown in from Manipur and offered on sale. I make myself comfortable and leave the choice of the dishes to Mary.
The first dish to arrive is bawngsa kan (Rs 270) from Mizoram. It is sliced tenderloin fried and served with fresh bamboo shoot, onions, and a dash of cooking soda. I am soon to realize that soda bicarb is an ingredient in most dishes from Mizoram. This starter is addictive. The velvety bambooshoot combines beautifully with crispy beef. The Naga pork spare ribs (Rs 270) are served with a deep fried, fermented mustard leaf and raja mircha (also called bhut jolokia) chutney. The dish looks stunning; however the Pork is a bit underdone and chewy. The accompanying chutney is exciting though.
Bai (Rs 170) is another Mizo dish – a mixed vegetable stew with vegetables of the season cooked with the usual soda bicarb, raja mircha and a dash of butter. It is a light, summery broth which I can easily make a meal out of. Ngatok (Rs 275), an Arunachal oil-free fish stew with pangas (similar to basa) fish, lemon leaf, ginger, garlic, coriander leaf and spring onions is the highlight of the meal. The dish is light and extremely flavourful. The fish has been poached to perfection. The lemon leaf adds a dimension to the depth of the flavours. Ngatok is a perfect treat. I have it with wild red rice (Rs 90) which looks brown and has its own natural sweetness, not to forget the fact that it is rich in iron. The accompanying Iromba (Rs 100), a Manipur fermented fish, potato, onion, and raja mircha chutney is exotic. The pork with mustard leaf (Rs 275) from Nagaland is nice but the pork could have been cooked more.
In the end I am served a wild red rice kheer (Rs 150) which is popular all over north east. It is less sweet than what we are used to, and has an interesting texture provided by the wild rice. The accompanying wild rice tea (Rs 75) is nutritive.
A trip to Rosang Café can be a wonderful journey into the flavours of the north eastern states. The taste of the dishes is unfamiliar but can be haunting. There are many dishes I still have to taste, so I will be going back.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 1100| Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12 noon to 10 PM
Address: 35, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi| Telephone: 9711925133