The quaint village that is HauzKhas in New Delhi boasts of hip eateries and chic boutiques. But a restaurant serving homely, rustic, North-eastern Indian cuisine has sprung up in quiet defiance in their midst. For, which restaurant in the vicinity can boast of breaking even in the first 100 days of its existence as Rosang has?
Getting lost in the quirky and messy alleys before you arrive upon your destination is a given to anybody looking for a restaurant in HauzKhas, and Rosang Café and Store is no exception. Climbing up an unpretentious stairwell leads you to a warm and woody premise, festooned with colourful artefacts and handicrafts from the North-eastern states of India. The woody décor and furniture are all hand made by the co-owner Muon and everything about the place, the food, the table service, the people, exudes the warmth and friendliness of the region.
I had heard of Rice Sake but Rice Beer? When Mary Lalboi the owner of the restaurant offered the drink to me, which looked nothing like the golden hued one I was used to, I looked askance. The first sip of the cloudy white drink that smelt of beer but had a sweet overtone matched by the tart tongue-clicking undertone of a fermented alcoholic drink, dispelled any lingering doubts. I loved it. It is refreshing without the toxicity that comes with the fermented alcoholic drink.
The Rosang Special Pork Fried Spare Rib was a calorie bomb, huge, deep-fried, marinated ribs flaunting pared meat and fat to spare. An otherwise excellent appetiser was rendered unflattering due to soggy cubes of fat, perhaps the result of frying in not-as-yet-ready hot oil. But the Pork Dimsum more than made up for its oily compatriot, the juicy, mildly spiced, pork balls blending beautifully with the freshly made dimsum roll. The house special Chilli chutney was wonderfully hot, spiked by the sharp, needle like heat of the Booth Jalokia. The phantasmagoricalchilli was omnipresent in all of Rosang’s chutneys and dishes. The Masoden- Burnt Brinjal Chutney with fish sauce and Iromba- Vegetable chutney, with fish sauce were loaded with a spicy, tangy taste that went very well with the wild red rice.
Ngtok- Herb Fish Stew without oil sweeps you away with its rich flavour and aroma but light texture. Spiced with special herbs and lemon grass, it tasted great with the Wild Red Rice that came in a bowl. The red rice was similar to basmati rice in grain size but with a nutty, and surprisingly un-tough, non-chewy texture. It paired very well with the stew and the other two dishes that followed. Christened unimaginatively as Boiled Chicken with yam leaf and lemon leaf, the superlative dish was light and tasty while the Pork with dry yam leaf and mustard leaf was satisfying
It must be mentioned that all of the stews were made with no oil and the fat content was mainly from the meat that were being used. The consistency was light as opposed to the buttery, onion-tomato gravy or coconut gravy that one is used to. As a result, none of the dishes was heavy, but sat lightly, with individual herbs and condiments playing a well-orchestrated symphony of taste and flavours.
The Wild Red Rice Kheer was more like the Sweet Pongal of southern India, with the flavours imparted by milk, jaggery and coconut. Mildly sweet and surprisingly light despite its carbohydrate count, it was an apt finish to a lovely meal.
Rice seemed to predominate Rosang’s cuisine with our drink, main course and dessert originating from this beloved grain. Despite the doomsday prediction of diet watchers against rice, I left the place satiated but not stuffed. The restaurant being small, 25 covers, and owner-managed in sourcing ingredients, cooking, taking orders and serving even, ensures that the customer leaves the place with a glow in his heart and a lightness of being, pervading both the tummy and the purse. A store, a floor above, caters to the culturally inclined with a bounty of handicrafts from the region and a Saturday special sale of herbs, condiments and grain shall make sure that the needle of the compass in your home remains pointed to the north-east long after you have left Rosang.
Disclosure: This review was done upon the invitation of the restaurant.
Ratings (Out of 5):
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 3.0 | Overall: 3.5
Meal for two: Rs. 1200/- (Without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Accepted | Alcohol: No
Address: Rosang Café and Store, 35, 2nd floor, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi | Tel: 9711925133 / 9711925422