Minimalism has always been at the core of Naga cuisine. Ingredients are allowed room to breathe and shine in their purest forms without restraint. For Alistair Lethorn, a Goa-based Chef who hails from Dimapur, these flavours have been a constant source of inspiration. Since 2018, he’s been running successful pop-ups under the banner of Aal’s Kitchen and has since spread his prowess to destinations across the country. Although he draws on the Naga dishes of his childhood for inspiration, his own creations stand apart in their originality. 

His upcoming venture brings these recipes to a destination in Mumbai. Hosted by Magazine Street Kitchen in Byculla, this tie-up with The Soul Kitchen is set to be an ode to Chef Aal’s Anglo-Indian heritage and Northeastern ties. Inspired by his mother and grandmother, who shaped his journey in the world of food, he’s put together a selection of his signature dishes that will be served in the traditional style, on a banana leaf.

Also Read: From Hinkejvu To Galho: 8 Dishes From Nagaland That You Must Try

He’s debuting a new line-up of dishes as well as a smattering of his familiar favourites from past menus. One of the old names making the cut is his Pineapple Pork, a dish he has been perfecting for many years. He’ll also be serving up Pickled Buff and Pork with Dry Bamboo Shoot, two quintessentially Naga dishes that have been adapted to his style. 

One of the must-try items is the Gahlo, a type of khichdi from Nagaland which replaces the usual dal with sticky rice and a potato mash. Traditionally the dish is made with blood, but he will be forgoing that element for this occasion. “It’s a collection that he’s curated for the Bombay palate,” he says, “there’s a lot of thought behind how things pair since it’s not a buffet, but an entire plated meal.”

To that end, he’s also curated a vegetarian meal with a selection of new dishes to enjoy. Naga food is by nature quite meat-heavy but in this menu, he’s innovated around classic ingredients for a new spin on the cuisine. For example, his Stir-Fried Vegetables are laced with Axone (fermented soybean), and Portobello Mushrooms which are spiced with Michinga, (a Naga staple similar in flavour to Sichuan pepper). He’s also debuting a Bitter Brinjal (Lilok) dish, made with the vegetable native to the Northeast and served alongside Eromba, a potato chutney based on the Manipuri delicacy.  

The whole meal is set to be paired with curated cocktails ideated by Tamras Gin, which also bear the influence of the menu. “I’ve given them ingredients to work with,” says Chef Aal, “They came up with a number of cocktails based on ingredients such as Naga Ginger, Michinga, King Chilli and sour Tenga powder and they’ve curated cocktails around that.”

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

Dates & Timings

Saturday, September 24th 2022

Dinner: 7:45 PM onwards

Sunday, September 25th 2022

Lunch: 12:45 PM onwards 

For more details, click here.