Ethnic Northeast Indian food has had a sort of resurgence in the recent past with a number of eateries and restaurants coming up that serves traditional cuisine of the region. These eateries had stimulated a new found craze for traditional food amongst the people. One of the main restaurants stimulating this change is Michinga, a restaurant located in the Bhuban Road of the Uzanbazar area and which is the latest buzzword among foodies of the city.
Michinga is the brainchild of Mustaque Ahmed, a food entrepreneur and Zubeno Mozhui, a socio-cultural activist-cum-entrepreneur from Dimapur. Mustaque is originally from Upper Assam and has been running a highly successful Naga restaurant in Bangalore for many years now.
Talking about the concept behind the restaurant, Mustaque says, "Since I am from the food business and as both me and Zubeno often pass through Guwahati, we would often land up eating in ethnic restaurants of the city. Although there is not dearth of ethnic restaurants in the city, we felt that there was space for one more restaurant. That is the genesis of Michinga in short."
"Although ethnic food has become a trend amongst the people, we tried to bring the food of all the communities of the Northeast, especially Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, in a single place," says Mustaque.
Michinga is located in a heritage building, which was originally the house of poet Raghunath Choudhury, in Bhuban Road, Uzanbazar. So while the heritage house adds its own unique charm to the place, the duo has designed and upgraded the place to meet the needs of the present generation. "Besides the outdoor seating area, we have a carpet space of around 2500 square feet. We have not hired any professional designer and the entire restaurant has been designed by me and Zubeno," says Mustaque. Minimalistic decors and a small wooden fireplace adds to the heritage charm of the restaurant.
Not just the beautiful interiors, a major USP of the restaurant is its emphasis on serving food in its most traditional avatar. "Northeast Indian food, be it Assamese, Khasi or Naga,are known for their health benefits. Our chief aim is to serve traditional food without using any spices or condiments and with all its health benefits intact. Our meat is cooked in its own fat without the need for using extra oil. Plus, we bring all our spices and condiments from the rural areas where the dishes originated. People who like eating ethnic Northeast Indian food will immediately feel the difference once they visit our restaurant," he says, adding that the restaurant has witnessed visits by a number of international delegates in the recent past.
The restaurant is manned by a set of well-trained and highly experienced chefs and bearers. The courteous behaviour of the bearers supplement the beautifully decorated interiors. "At present, we have around 12 different cooks for Naga, Khasi and Assamese cuisine while we have another 6-7 people working as bearers or support staff," Mustaque says.
As an ethnic food restaurant, one of the major highlights of the restaurant is its endeavour to serve food of the Upper Assam Muslim community. As Mustaque says, "Since I am from Upper Assam, I always felt the need for a place which would serve the food of the Muslim community from upper Assam. So we have a wide variety of pulaos and muttons which are cooked in festive occasions, and which one will not get in any other restaurant of the city."
Coming to the prices, most of the dishes are reasonably priced and quite affordable for the common man. Mustaque says that have tried to keep their prices as competitive as possible. "A regular thali, comprising of starters, main course and desserts, will cost around Rs. 250-300 per person. So I feel the prices are pretty reasonable when you compare them with the ambience of the place, which I would say is very decent from my own standards."
A customer to the restaurant Trishnakhi Deuri opined, "A great place to have ethnic cuisine.Theinterior is kept simple yet it has got a classic feel to it.I tried the Naga Pork thali, Khasi thali, Pork cooked with Michinga and coffee caramel.The Naga thali was hands down the winner.Whenever you feel like having a wholesome homely cooked meal, this is the right place for you.I would definitely visit this place again and again to enjoy their sumptuous thalis and also recommend everyone to visit this place. This place is a win-win option for me."
Another customer Shyamalima Tamuly said, "It's the perfect place to give your tastebuds the authentic taste of some north-eastern cuisines. They serve various north-eastern dishes, mainly Assamese, Naga and Khasi platters. I ordered the Upper Assam Mughlai thali and trust me, each and every item in the platter tasted so good and flavourful. It consists of Pulao, Chicken Kofta curry, Chicken Korma, Paneer Korma and Mutton curry along with veg chop, salad and pickle. The serving was quick and I found the ambience so enchanting with some great music. I would be definitely paying a second visit to this beautiful place to try out the other dishes as well."
So next time you want to try some healthy ethnic Northeast food, Michinga should definitely be on the top of your list!