Northeast India Cuisine and Some Must Try Dishes
Bhoot jolokiya, kazi nemu, bambooshoot, pork, rice beer, river fishes, snails, silk worms and what not! The Northeast India cuisine is one of the most versatile and unique cuisines in the world. With some of the healthiest ingredients, simple cooking style and with the utmost love and care of the beautiful northeast Indian people, the dishes from this region become superbly delicious.
While many think that the food of NE India consists mostly of non-veg items but NO! FYI the vegetarian menu is also as lengthy as the non-veg one and you will be astonished to know about the different plants, fruits, vegetables and spices people use here in their dishes- the most uncommon and amazing ingredients that you probably haven’t heard before!
Let’s now dig into some of the tasty dishes offered by these states of seven sisters-
- Khar (Assam): Khar is basically an alkaline liquid. In Assam natural Khar is prepared by the skin of a particular kind of seeded banana called Bheekol in Assamese. The dried banana skin is burnt in fire and the ash is mixed with water and the water is filtered. This alkaline water is then used with papaya, leafy greens, chickpea or fish and different khar items are prepared.
- Akhuni (Nagaland): Akhuni is nothing but fermented soya beans. Soya beans are cleaned, washed and boiled. The excess water is drained and put in a pot. It is then put out in the sun or over the fireplace, the Dhuwasang and let to warm and ferment. Akhuni is then used with different items to prepare different dishes. The most popular use of Akhuni in Nagaland is with pork and dried fish.
- Eromba (Manipur): Do you remember Priyanka Chopra offering Eromba to a reporter in the movie ‘Mary Kom’, the movie about the legendary woman boxer from Manipur! Yes, that’s a signature dish of Manipur. Eromba is prepared with dried and fermented fish smashed together with local vegetables like potato, colocasia, tree beans, bambooshoot and chilies. Best paired with rice.
- Pickey Pila (Arunachal Pradesh): Food of northeast India is uncommon, full of unique flavor and super healthy. Yes, that’s true! Take the example of Pickey Pila now- it is a popular dish of the Apatani tribe in Arunachal Pradesh made with pork, local vegetable (popularly bitter brinjal), chilies and Haar. Haar is a local ingredient used in many dishes which is prepared by burning the leaves of a tree called Tari in Apatani language.
- Jadoh (Meghalaya): Meghalaya consists of three main tribes- Khasi, Garo and Jayantia and their cuisine is impacted by the amazing dishes of all these communities. Jadoh is a popular dish of the Khasi community. It is a combo of rice, pork, vegetables and often garnished with fried egg or fish. A super delicious meal you must try when in Meghalaya.
- Bai (Mizoram): Bai is kind of a vegetable stew. Locally available vegetables like mustard greens, ladies finger, potato, pumpkin leaves, cabbage etc are boiled together and Bai is prepared. Some use pork with it too as it is one of the most consumed meats here and dishes of northeast India seems incomplete without pork! Fermented soya beans, chilies (specifically bird eye chilies as it is a special variety of chili available in Mizoram and people worldwide know about it), khar, spices etc are also added along with the boiled vegetables. Without any frying, oil, extra fat, sugar or carbohydrate, this recipe is proof of how healthy and delicious NE India cuisine is!
- Chuwak (Tripura): Let’s talk about a refreshing drink now. Chuwak is a locally prepared rice beer in Tripura. It is considered very important in festivals and celebrations. This specially prepared rice beer is considered as very auspicious in the Tripuri community and they offer it to their God on their special occasions.
Special mention- One of the most popular ingredients in northeast India cuisine is Bhoot jolokiya. Also known as King Chili, ghost chili, bhut chili or Naga chili. With the GI tag from northeast India, Bhoot jolokiya is considered as one of the hottest chilies in the world. This super hot chili is used in curries and making bhoot jolokiya pickle.
North East India cuisine is unique, different from the rest of India and a fusion of delicious flavor, taste, aroma, health and the purest form of love and affection by the simple lovable people of NE India. The ending note- if you haven’t made any plan yet to visit NE India and try out the amazing dishes, you are missing something big!