Taste a unique Naga feast in Mumbai this weekend with Chef Aal

Minimalism has always been at the heart of Naga cuisine. Ingredients can breathe and shine in their purest forms without restraint. For Alistair Lethorn, a Goa-based chef from Dimapur, these flavors have been a constant source of inspiration. Since 2018, he has successfully run pop-ups under the Aal’s Kitchen banner and has since expanded his prowess to destinations across the country. If he is inspired by the Naga dishes of his childhood, his own creations are distinguished by their originality.

His next venture is bringing those recipes to a destination in Mumbai. Hosted by Magazine Street Kitchen in Byculla, this tie-up with The Soul Kitchen should be an ode to Chef Aal’s Anglo-Indian heritage and ties to the northeast. Inspired by his mother and grandmother, who shaped his journey in the world of gastronomy, he has composed a selection of his signature dishes which will be served the old-fashioned way, on a banana leaf.

Also Read: From Hinkejvu to Galho: 8 Must-Try Nagaland Dishes

He’s launching a new range of dishes along with a handful of his familiar favorites from previous menus. One of the old names that makes the cut is his Pineapple Pork, a dish he has been perfecting for many years. He will also serve Pickled Buff and Pork with Dry Bamboo Shoot, two quintessential Naga dishes that have been adapted to his style.

One of the must-try dishes is Gahlo, a type of khichdi from Nagaland that replaces the usual dal with sticky rice and mashed potatoes. Traditionally, the dish is made with blood, but he will forgo that element for this occasion. “It’s a collection he curated for the Bombay Palace,” he says, “there’s a lot of thought behind how things come together because it’s not a buffet, but a full meal on the plate.”

To this end, he also organized a vegetarian meal with a selection of new dishes to taste. Naga food is inherently quite meaty, but in this menu he has innovated around classic ingredients to put a new twist on the cuisine. For example, its sautéed vegetables are mixed with Akhuni (fermented soybeans) and Portobello mushrooms which are spiced with Michinga (a Naga staple food similar in flavor to Sichuan pepper). It is also launching a dish Bitter Brinjal (Lilok), prepared with the vegetable native to the northeast and served alongside Iromba, a potato chutney based on the Manipuri delicacy.

The whole meal will be accompanied by cocktails concocted by Tamras Gin, which also carry the influence of the menu. “I gave them some ingredients to work with,” says Chef Aal, “They came up with a number of ingredient cocktails like Naga Ginger, Michinga, King Chilli and Sour Tenga Powder and they organized cocktail parties around it.”

If you’ve ever been curious about the secrets of Naga cuisine and wanted to experience the magic of its flavors in an authentic setting, this pop-up promises to introduce you to all the basics. But he will do so in a quintessential Chef Aal style where every ingredient is elevated and updated in a clean, modern palate while honoring every historical link to its past.

Dates and times

Saturday September 24, 2022

Dinner: from 7:45 p.m.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Lunch: from 12:45 p.m.

For more details, click here.

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