Ode to oink

Ah, pork - where does one begin? It is now common knowledge that the Hipposaur has always leaned in favour of the revered pig, when it comes to matters of gustatory significance. After all, the plebeian broiler chicken is a bit of a compromise; while mutton and beef is generic red meat. No surprise then, that pork has always topped the list of the Hipposaur's favourite things to put in his stomach.

Yet apart from the occasional tepid cold cut sandwich, the average Indian kitchen could never really do justice to pork. So you're stuck with your dabba of Vindalho and the effusion of vinegar and spice overloads your senses. It's great stuff, but even the mighty kitchens of Goa can't quite bring out the subtle flavours of pork fat, meat and rind. That's why we thank our lucky stars for having sweet old aunties from the North Eastern states, who manage to eke strange and curious flavours out of pork, that too in hamara Dilli.

Look beyond the chhole-kulche laden National Punjabi kitchen culture, and you'll hit upon fantastic wayside joints that dish out an amazing variety of cuisines from all over. That's a saving grace, considering how you probably needed a confidante from the North East in town to smuggle in some of that fabled Axone (pronounced akh-uni) back in Calcutta. Delhi, on the other hand seems so much more of a cosmopolitan affair, at least as far as its belly is concerned.

Thanks to a large number of good folks who have migrated from the North Eastern states, the city now boasts of a number of small eateries that serve the real deal from the seven sister states. First up is Dilli Haat, a stone's throw from the INA Metro station. Here's you'll find everything from Gujarati Theplas to Rajasthani Kair Sangri. But that may be elaborated upon at a more herbivorous moment. For now, the Nagaland stall takes the cake.

Walk in and the friendly aunty directs you to the menu card. The laminated list spells out smoked pork, pork in Axone, pork curry in bamboo shoot, fried ribs and pork with Raja mircha, among a host of other wonderful things to eat. Without further ado, the Hipposaur shouts out an order for smoked pork, pork with raja mircha, boiled mustard greens and a mountain of rice. The food is served in 20 minutes flat. Each piece of meat holds on to a chunk of fat (the way it should be). The curry is flavourful, but never overwhelming the flavour of the meat. The heat is tempered, yet leaves a fiery aftertaste. They also serve a wonderfully understated masur dal, a curry of vegetables with bamboo shoot and a potent dry fish chutney to round off your meal. Conclusion: bliss.

And here's a nice round up of authentic grub from the North East, available in the Delhi NCR region, from the Delhi edition of TimeOut: http://bit.ly/9iFzqz.


Anonymous said...

Dear hipposaur, your ode brought a few tears of joy to my eyes. Truly pork is most noble of the meats, I fondly remember my Bhutanese friends arriving with black pepper boiled in pork fat, pork achaar and I can not forget the delicious pork curry a lovely girl cooked for me at her place with deadly chillies and love. The end result, was to die for. But I found a little bit of negativity towards lamb, have you never tasted an Iranian lamb dish? Most of them are cooked for more than eight hours over a slow fire. It's not very spicy, but It's one of the most juicy meat I have ever tested and soft as.. well made ras-malai! The meat loose all it's redness and bask in pure deliciousness. Try it and let us know. happy eating! - Indy

Fully grown fuzzy Hipposaur said...

Thanks a bunch for the good words, fellow feeder. Lamb is a different breed of meat, mind you. IMHO a little different from goat meat. I quite love a well-made lamb dish. Any good Iranian joins you would recommend in Dilli? Thanks!