The land of the Seven Sisters – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura – is home to India’s largest collection of tribal who migrated to our peninsula, through the centuries via Burma (Myanmar). The cuisines of these regions are as varied as the tribes themselves. Food is simple and for the most part non-vegetarian. Every state has its own dishes.
Let’s explore them and try to know what north-eastern people love to eat…
A traditional meal in Assam is never complete without the presence of Khar. This is a completely offbeat dish prepared out of the unusual combination of red rice, beaten pulses and raw papaya along with traditional Assamese spices. The interesting thing is that the ingredients are all mixed together and then filtered through a pipe stuffed with desiccated banana ash. The dish is a full-bodied recipe that can be cooked for lunch. Being gluten free this is a safe option for diabetics and health-conscious people.
Smoked Pork, Nagaland
Nagaland is well known for its pork delicacies and locals here consider Pork to be their main source of meat. The smoked pork dish is crispy on its outer side while the inner portion is juicy and succulent. The pieces of pork are cut into small pieces and can either be prepared in a dry form or in a curry form with localized ingredients. The fiery tinge is added by the infusion of a pinch of Raja Mirchi which is the most potent chilly in the world. The smoked pork curry tastes heavenly with steamed plain rice.
Jadoh is a popular Meghalayan dish which is very popular in the North-Eastern food circuit of India. Jadoh is usually prepared with Amrmbrosial rice that is a specialty of Meghalaya. This rice is long grained; light red colored and endowed with a distinctive fragrance apart from being deliciously low in gluten. Also known as the other types of Pulav traditionally consumed in India.
Zan, Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a land of exotic tastes and smells and one of the best examples of its culinary diversity is Zan, which is a wonderfully spicy porridge. It is a highly customizable dish which can be enhanced with a lot of green vegetables and smoked meat. This dish is quite low in calories and easy to digest too which makes it popular amongst the tourist circuit.
Mizoram cuisine finds its best representation in Bai, a spicy and sour dish. Pork is one of the most used meats in Mizoram and predictably the dish Bai also gets its base from pork. This dish also has a major base of spinach which makes it a good source of iron too. Tender young bamboo shoots are added to the mixture of Bai as this gives it an aromatic flavor. This is a quite spicy dish which can be paired with sweet and chewy Mizoram rice.
Iromba is a dish that acts well as a snack as well as the main dish. It is quite a healthy and nutritious dish and is quite versatile too. The flavors of Iromba vary according to the season as seasonal vegetables and locally available spices are added here. There are two versions of Iromba; one with Tokningkok garnishing and another with Mayang Maton Garnish.
Awan Bangwi, Tripura
Awan Babgwi is a specialty of the local cuisine of Tripura. This dish is made up of long grained coarse textured Guria rice and is fashioned into the shape of a cake. Rich chunks of garlic, cashew pieces, long-bodied sultanas and ginger gratings go into the making of Awan Bangwi. Each bite into the Awan Bangwi cake will reveal a burst of textures and flavors that are spicy and aromatic.