Rosang Café & Store
by Vandana Verma
25 June 2013
35 Hauz Khas Village, second floor, Delhi.
Open daily, noon-10pm.
In the culinary fog of “The Village,” Rosang adds a little ethnic flavour, like Yeti and Gunpowder before it.
Representing the food of the Northeast, this no-frills café and store is a welcome diversion in Hauz Khas Village, where a profusion of cookie-cutter cafés and Lebanese-Italian menus peddle overpriced sandwiches and iced teas. Walk past the sign informing you of L’Opera’s next outpost, hang a left at Bagel’s Café, and then another down a little gully that will deposit you at the doorstep of Rosang.
Previously, it was only if you knew where to look – at Nagaland’s Kitchen or Jakoi – that you’d find a taste of the Northeast in Delhi. And most of the capital’s Khasis, Nagas, Mizos, Jaintias, Garos, Arunachalis, and other diverse Northeastern communities enjoy the flavours of home, well, in their own homes. But suddenly here’s a place you can go for a culinary sampler from any of the eight states.
At Rosang the menu makes evident the lineage of every item listed, making it easy to order a delicious, and geographically varied, spread. Pork spare ribs are deep-fried, with a crisp, charred crust underneath which you’ll find fatty meat, and plenty of it. Try, also, the Bawngsa Kan, a Mizo prepration with crisp-fried slices of meat, onion and floppy boiled slivers of bamboo shoot, which Mary, Rosang’s proprietor, recommends as the house specialty.
It is imperative that your meal begin with those ribs, but after that, the choice is yours, and the mains are as home-style as the starters are meaty, and a Bilahi Masoor tenga from Assam, a sour tomato-based fish curry, was super fresh and equally aromatic, and sat beautifully atop a mound of wild red rice. A chicken curry with tamarind and coconut, the Kukhura Masu from Sikkim, had a thin gravy whose flavours were bold, but clear and distinct. No Northeastern meal is complete without an accompanying chutney, and the Masoden, from Tripura, starred burnt brinjal, fish sauce and onion, a lovely bharta-alike.
To finish, a bowlful of wild red rice kheer, drier than its North Indian counterparts, with a surprisingly minty tang (despite a lack of any actual mint), and topped with sultanas and grated coconut, or you could just order yourself a milky-hued rice beer and let your meal settle.
This homey authenticity is underscored by photographs depicting scenes from the Northeastern states, a carved wooden ceiling, and seating cushions made from traditional fabric. Upstairs, if you’re keen to take home a souvenir, there’s also a little store that sells a selection of jewellery, music, pottery and lampshades, all from the Northeast.
With its gentle prices, attentive hosting and knockout flavours that won’t actually knock you out, Rosang is both a transportative example of home-style Northeastern eating and a great addition to the neighbourhood.