Michinga - Guwahati, India
Rating: 8 / 10
Uzan Bazaar has become quite the hive of activity of late. From it's decimated state just 15 years ago, plagued by dust and deafening neglect, like a phoenix it has arisen and turned it's feathers into a peacocks plumage. With boat trips heading off from the pier to the island of aforementioned name, it's well worth staying here instead of toiling in the purest of hells that is downtown Guwahati.
Our landlord placated us with tea after the overnight train from Dimapur, well aware of the testing nature of Indian collective transport. As we sipped the sickly sweet chai, he asked if we were interested in trying some real authentic local food. Of course! "Then, you must head today for lunch at Michinga. It is barely 3 blocks from here, you can reach quite comfortably by foot. Please give me a full report when I return in the afternoon, I have some business to attend to."
With sugar rushes filling our heads with fantasties of ornate tablecloths floating from above with tantalising feasts abounding, we rushed off down the side roads and walked into a completely empty restaurant.
The waiter was friendly. Not too friendly in that awful "lets be best buddies" kind of way, but just curious enough and knowledgable about the menu. He suggested we tried the pork belly as a starter and their own brand of smoked tea. I went with a lime soda to sooth parched throat,whilst the others ordered tea. We sat, having read through and chosen our dishes, listening to obscene Katy Perry songs on the stereo. After 2 songs I decided that since we were the only people in the restaurant, i'd ask them to change it. I suggested some Indian Classical music, so they put on Ravi Shankar, the same song, on repeat.
Two waiters carried the tea, starter and lime soda balanced adeptly on twin trays. We sipped our drinks, the look of astonishment swept across my friends faces at indentical junctures, WHAT IS THIS OCCULT MAGIC? The recipe was then explained to us by the waiter, proudly, while he ran back to the kitchen to produce a certain leaf used in extracting this bitter, strange, wonderful flavour. We also dove into the bowl of Pork Belly, bracing for simultaneous weeping exchanges when the fire of the chilli and the divine brutality of the flavour summoned praise of spectral origins.
Next up was the Naga-Thali which was an interesting collection of locals curries, pickles and fermented river fish.
Tho not every bite of it was a miracle (never been a huge fan of liver and gizzard), it was an experience worth sharing. The pork on the other hand, was beyond magic, beyond conjuring.
Upon completion of our duties, we shook off the ghosts of pleasure and headed full tilt into the spiderweb of lanes and alleyways, intent on purchasing the famed "Bhut Jolokia", also regarded as one of the hottest chillis on earth.
After many wrong turns, empty shelves, diabolical exchanges with a frantic puppy, we found a few last containers of the dried hellfire and headed back to detail our day to our waiting host.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"