India is celebrating its 72nd Independence Day today, 15th August 2018. The annual celebration marks the freedom of the country from the British Raj, and it is as much a day of celebration of our rich cultural and historical legacy as it is a day of introspection about India's role on the global stage. Independence Day celebrations include hoisting of the national flag, singing of patriotic songs and ballads, as well as exchange of sweets and greetings. Independence Day being a national holiday, people stay at home with their families and watch patriotic programmes on television, participate in various cultural events and even fly kites - an activity that symbolises free spirit and freedom. Independence Day is also an opportunity for us to appreciate the vibrant cultural diversity that defines India as a country, and what better way to do that than to reflect upon the wide array of traditional cuisines from across the country?
Indian food is a mix of delightfully rich flavours and tastes, which differ from state to state. The northeast of India, in particular, is nothing short of a gourmet food destination, with endless opportunities for food lovers to explore. On India's 72nd Independence Day, we decided to look at some sensational northeast Indian recipes that will make you appreciate the cuisine of the region and its richness. It's pertinent to mention here that none of these dishes in any way 'define' or 'represent' the cuisine or foods of these states.
Here are eight amazing dishes from the eight northeast Indian states of India that you must know about:
1. Kangshoi From Manipur
Manipur is the northeast Indian state with the largest variety of cuisines. A traditional Manipuri thali usually consists of 30 different dishes, including salads, curries and stews, as well as the delicious and purple-hued black rice and milk pudding chakao kheer for dessert. One of the most popular dishes from Manipur that you'd love to re-create at home is the vegetable stew kangsoi, which is made from dried and fermented fish. The dish is extremely nutritious and is usually prepared without using even a drop of oil. The fish in the stew can easily be replaced with any other kind of meat or even omitted without changing the cooking method.
2. Smoked Pork Curry From Nagaland
Naga pork curry is probably one of the most delicious non-vegetarian dishes of the Indian cuisine. Crispy, juicy smoked pork is cooked in a wonderfully spiced curry with the famous bhoot jholokia and bamboo shoots to create a dish that is both flavourful and hearty. The curry is usually eaten with steamed rice. This sensational curry has made it to the menus of a number of restaurants around the world. It's a must-try for every non-vegetarian!
3. Thenthuk From Arunachal Pradesh
The cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh is characterised by the use of fermented soya bean, yak meat and yak cheese. One of the most popular dishes from the state is thenthuk, which is a soupy dish, much like the thukpa. The only difference between thenthuk and thukpa is the shape of the noodles. The former contains homemade and flattened noodles, as compared to the long, stringy noodles of the latter.
(Also Read: 5 Best North Eastern Restaurants In Delhi)
4. Masor Tenga From Assam
The food in Assam is heavily influenced from Bengali and Oriya cuisines, while the food in tribal Assam is characterised by the presence of a number of wild herbs, and the dishes prepared in lower Assam make generous use of mustard paste. Masor tenga, which is an Assamese fish curry, is one of the most popular dishes from the state. You can easily prepare this dish at home and relish it during lunch or dinner. The intensely comforting and tangy dish is prepared by cooking fish in a curry of wild sour spinach and tomatoes, and is paired with steamed rice with some fresh green chillies.
5. Gorkhali Lamb From Sikkim
Sikkim is known for its thukpa and momos. But, Sikkimese cuisine is hardly just about these two! Sikkimese cuisine makes generous use of soya bean in its dishes, which is consumed in a number of ways and even fermented. Sikkimese food is also influenced from Nepali food. You may find a lot of Nepali street foods like sael roti and Chatamari in this north-eastern state. Sael roti is often eaten with Gorkhali lamb, which is prepared by grilling lamb pieces and sealing them with a chilli mixture before these are added to the curry.
(Also Read: 9 Unique Street Foods From the North East)
6. Bhangui From Tripura
The food in Tripura is influenced from the cooking styles and methods of Bengalis and Muslims, as well as the tribes of the state. The people of Tripura love their rice and the masterfully prepared flavoured rice dish bhangui is proof of that. The popular sticky rice dish is made from the flavourful gobindabhog rice, which is used in West Bengal as well. The rice is first sundried and then boiled with ginger, garlic and onions after being wrapped in banana leaves. Bangui is paired with any fish or meat preparation, like the wahan mosdeng dish from Tripura, which contains pork.
7. Koat Pitha From Mizoram
Mizo cuisine is influenced from the Chinese cuisine. The state's food is famous for using fermented pork fat or sa-um in their dishes. Koat pitha is one of the most popular Mizo snacks, which is prepared by coating bananas in rice flour and jaggery paste and then deep-frying them. The koat pitha, or banana fritters, is often enjoyed with zu, which is a special Mizo tea.
8. Jadoh From Meghalaya
Home to the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia tribes of India, Meghalaya is known for its diverse cuisine and its love for homemade rice beer. Two of the most popular Khasi dishes include the tung-rymbai and jadoh. The former is a fermented soya bean cooked in bamboo leaves; the latter is a rice delicacy with meatballs made from ground meat. Although jadoh is a Khasi preparation; it is something that you may see on the dinner tables of all three tribes. So, the next time you visit Shillong, you have to try these amazing dishes out!
Do yourself a favour and take a trip around these eight beautiful states to treat your palate to a plethora of unique tastes and flavours!
About Sakshita KhoslaSakshita loves the finer things in life including food, books and coffee, and is motivated by self-indulgence and her love for words. When not writing, she can be found huddled in the corner of a cosy cafe with a good book, caffeine and her own thoughts for company.