The Northern Frontier needs no introduction. One of the best known restaurants of Viman Nagar standing proud for 14 years. They have opened a new branch in Wakad, a beautiful roof top space, and have introduced for this month, a special Kashmiri Food Festival. I was invited for a food tasting here and I must say, this one should not be missed. They have got authentic ingredients, special vegetables and spices, which grow only in Kashmir and have prepared a menu which is to die for.
What better way to start any meal than to have hot, fragrant and delicious kahwa right out of metal pots with burning coals inside to keep it hot and brewing. Heaps of almonds on top and savour the magic. Unfortunately, the refills of kahwa we ordered came cold and kahwa was on the sweeter side. Refreshing nevertheless.
There was an incessant onslaught of delicious meats and juicy kebabs.
On the vegetarian front we had NADUR CHIPS, crispy spicy deep fried Lotus Stem chips with the most delicous yogurt mint dip and NADUR MONJI, minced lotus stem pattice. The SAUNFIA CHAMAN was a soft and subtly flavoured paneer kebab.
The non veg selection was mind-blowing, the most amazing among them being – TABAK MAAZ. Soft succulent mutton chops, boiled in spiced milk and then deep fried to perfection! The crisp outer layer and the ridiculously succulent inner meat and fat layers were just heavenly. Almost no spice but absolutely singing with the flavour of meat, fat and bone. Real meat lovers will totally appreciate this.
KABARGAH too was a mutton ribs dish, fried with spices and flour. SEEKH TUJJI was a deliciously spiced juicy mutton seekh kabab served with naan. MURGH KANTI were spicy chicken nuggets super crispy and amazing to pop one after the other, along with some drinks.
We were served a mighty impressive barrage of curries. It was incredible how each dish was so unique and delicious in spite of there being such a huge spread. Most Kashmiri curries are simple onion based curries with just ginger powder, fennel (saunf) and few other spices. They have great flavour without being overly spicy. They are simple and homely but rich and soul satisfying.
GUSHTABA is and will remain my favourite Kashmiri curry. I have had it once before in Sri Nagar during Ramzan and I can’t get over the flavour. Super finely minced mutton balls, in the most delicious subtle spiced and tangy yogurt curry. The texture and taste is incredible.
MUTTON ROGAN JOSH was one of the best I’ve ever had. A fairly thin onion curry (unlike the thick version most places serve) with succulent mutton and heady Kashmiri red chilli flavour. Incredible.
SHABDEG – Delicious intense duck meat and turnip curry.
KEEMA KALEJI MASALA – Simple, spicy and flavourful mutton mince and liver curry. Couldn’t get any better.
NINYA PULAO – A delicious yogurt based mutton pulao , similar to Yakhni Pulao.
I have to mention that though the meat curries were awesome, their specialty vegetarian curries were just incredible too. The SOCHAL NADIR, Kashimiri Saag (mallow leaves) with juicy lotus stem, TSOK WAGUN, a tamarind based tangy eggplant curry and MONJI HAAK, kohlarbi (German Turnip) and saag curry. These dishes are so good and have such a simple, homely feel, you almost feel it’s been made by somebody’s mom in a small Kashimiri home. I could have this everyday.
But you don’t get these vegetables all the time, which have to be ordered from Kashmir. They are available at the Northern Frontier only till the end of March. The meat specialties are permanently on the menu, but you have to go experience the saag and German turnip curries once for sure.
They even have a set thali for Rs. 550 which has like the greatest hits. Quintessential Kashimiri meal, with 2 kabab, 4 curries (3 non-veg, 1 veg), naan/roti, pulao and dessert, which is more than value for money if you ask me. Instead of having ala carte, this thali makes most sense for most people unless you want to taste something specific.
We ended the meal with cool refreshing phirni and then one of the most unique and amazing desserts I’ve ever had – Shufta. This is something you would want to eat sitting in front of a roaring fire on an icy cold Kashmiri winter’s night along with some kahwa. Almonds, cashews, raisins, apricots, roasted coconut and most surprisingly deep fried paneer, soaked for hours then tossed in a pan with caramelised sugar and spices. So warming, sweet and rich. We just went through all of it in seconds. Such a unique and amazing dessert. Fit for a king.
Don’t think, just go and experience this amazing food, that we rarely get to have in Pune. Not this authentic for sure. There are certain cuisines that are just so heart warming and soul satisfying and none more so than Kashmiri cuisine. And most importantly, in all this wonderful meaty company, the vegetarian treasures impress with flying colours too. Top marks.