Mumbai Food: Enjoy authentic Manipuri cuisine at this pop-up in Chembur


A fashion designer whips up authentic fare from his home state at a pop-up that features curries, smoked fish and pork made from traditional ingredients

Baah Gajor Gahori
Baah Gajor Gahori

Growing up in a conservative home in Imphal, Keisham Kunjakishor Singh, who goes by the names Keisham or Bung, wasn’t allowed to cook chicken and pork in his kitchen. “My parents never stopped us from eating it but we couldn’t cook meat inside our home. So, I would bring the stove to our courtyard, and smoke pork outside. I also remember learning how to smoke fish at the age of 10. That is considered vegetarian in most Manipuri homes,” says the 35-year-old Manipuri fashion designer based in Mumbai, who moonlights as a home chef. This Sunday, he will offer a taste of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare from the northeastern state, at the pop-up titled Manipuri Chakhum, presented by Authenticook.


Take a veggie walk
The meal features 10 dishes, including Singju, a popular street snack served at female-run stalls known as potphams. It’s a salad made using cabbage, lotus root and fenugreek leaves, laced with several herbs. For the mains, you can seek comfort in Mangal Ooti, a dal featuring whole yellow peas cooked with bamboo shoot, brought in from his native town. “I travel to Imphal every month and return with seasonal herbs, black rice, bhut jolokia and spices like bay leaves, Chinese chives and ginger. We grow most of them in our backyard,” says Keisham.

Chakhao Kheer
Chakhao Kheer

He’ll use the pungent chive leaves in Maroi Bori Thongba, a curry with black gram and lentil dumplings, while the other spices will be used in Kangsoi, a popular Manipuri version of a stew made with fresh, seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes. “I grew up on this stew, and sticky rice. I’ll use my mother’s recipe to make it,” he adds.

The food will be served with sticky rice
The food will be served with sticky rice

Also on the vegetarian menu is Chamfoot, a simple, steamed vegetable salad. Keisham has prepared accompaniments like Soibum Iromba (fermented bamboo shoot chutney) and Kanglayen Iromba (dry mushroom chutney).

Know the difference
The non-vegetarian menu stars Baah Gajor Gahori Tender, where chunks of pork are cooked with bamboo shoot and bhut jolokia chilli. “The Manipuri style of cooking pork is vastly different from Naga pork, which usually is just boiled or steamed. We use several spices to cook the meats. I make my own spice mix with coriander, cumin, fenugreek seeds, and asafoetida.”

KK Singh aka Keisham
KK Singh aka Keisham

Similarly, Yen Thongba, or chicken curry, is prepared by shallow frying the meat first and then boiling it in water to thicken it as gravy. The pop-up also features Nga Ataoba Thongba, comprising Rohu fish that is fried and curried in tomato. Keisham will also offer sticky rice that has been wrapped and cooked in lotus leaf. “It’s the most traditional way of cooking it. The leaf infuses an aroma into the rice. For dessert, there’s Chakhao Kheer cooked with black rice. It’s something my father would cook for us in the afternoons when we were kids,” reminisces Keisham.

On: August 27, 1 pm
At: Authenticook Underground Studio, Chembur
Log on to:
Cost: `1,050 (vegetarian); `1,250 (non-vegetarian)

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