During my initial trips to The Seven Sister’s, I used to always wonder about the various tribes and their secrets. Mind you there are lots of tribes, lots of secrets to uncover. But interestingly there is this one not-so-well-kept-secret, their food. I feel the main reason is even though they are ferocious warriors they are humble and loving people at heart. They don’t want to hurt anyone unless there is a threat. The tribal people are more than willing to share their meal with you and trust me some of the food that I had there with them are unique and lip-smacking. I am not able to pick my favourite.
When I visited the Khasi and Jaintia tribes in Meghalaya I had Jadoh, a traditional rice preparation rich with flavour and liberal amounts of pork meat. If you are a pork lover, then this dish is sure to make you drool.
Doh-Neiiong is another yummiest and drool-worthy dishes of Meghalaya that I tried. Doh-Neiiong is a pork curry dish that screams indulgence. Fried pork served with rich, thick gravy flavoured generously with green chillies, pepper, red onions, local spices and black sesame. Black sesame is the hero of this dish that lends it its unique flavour. Lip-smacking goodness if you love pork, this is one more dish not to be missed if you are in Meghalaya.
And in Assam I couldn’t escape Masor Tenga (Tangy Fish Curry), it is an indispensable part of a proper meal in Assam. This is a light and tangy dish and is one of Assam’s signature preparations. It is served with a good portion of rice and after that comes the amazing dessert made with rice, milk, bay leave and date palm jaggery, the one and only Gurer Payesh. Simply rich and delicious.
In Arunachal Pradesh, I found most of the dish are boiled or smoked which I fell is a very healthy way of eating. Bamboo shoot and leafy vegetables are a standard in their food. The best combination I had was a mixture of Momos, Pika Pika and Apong. All of us know Momos so I am not getting into it, but Pika Pika is a secret not known to many. It is a type of a pickle that is made by using bamboo shoot and pork fat with a little addition of King Chilly. It is hot but not very spicy. And to wash everything down we have Apong, in case you are wondering it is just another name for rice beer and is one of the most important traditional drinks of Arunachal. This beer is home-made, free of any chemicals and is also light. So if you’re a light drinker and want a little light beer instead of the usual strong commercialized one try this one.
I happened to visit Nagaland during the winters, which are very cold at night. We all ate our meals around a fire. Almost all their meal comprises of some kind of meat that is smoked, dried or fermented. Just as their tribal culture and ancient traditions – their cuisine is distinct and stands apart from the rest of the regional cuisines in India. The one I loved was the plain smoked meat and the smoked pork stew. The dried smoky pork was chopped into bite-sized pieces before being boiled in a thin soup that included potatoes, tomatoes, and chilies. It was salty, and so smoky that I could almost taste the fire. Awesome!
Through my trips, I was barely able to scratch the surface of the food culture, but whatever I tried was awesome. Can’t wait to try other recipes of the Seven Sister’s on my next trip.