10 amazing dishes from North East India to include in your plate
North East India, a land less travelled until a few years back has suddenly become quite famed for its unique cuisine. This is definitely a pleasant news, and the credit indeed goes to the various food festivals and restaurateurs that are doing a tremendous job advertising North eastern cuisine to the rest of the world. Having said that, North East India doesn’t have just one (or a few) typical dish. The region is an epitome of vivid taste and aroma, that change every 100 meters. We here bring to the 10 most amazing and unique food of the region that you can surely try in your kitchen.
Khar is unique to Assam and is intrinsic to a typical Assamese meal. It is a liquid made of dried and brunt banana peels, preferably of a variety called Bhim Kol (Latudan Banana or Musa Sapientum). Boiled cooled water is filtered through the ashes of the peels. The water hence collected is called Khar. In its absence, baking soda can be an easy substitute (It however lacks the original musky flavor of khar.) The dishes prepared by using the black liquid are also called khar (based on the main ingredient.) The liquid can be added to a number of stews and vegetables- ranging from raw papayas to bottle gourd to fish to lentils. Mustard oil is a must have ingredient for this recipe.
Maasor Petu Bhaat Bhaji
This literally translates to fish intestines fried with rice. Cringe not, this is one of the most exotic recipes of the Assamese people and definitely is a roller coaster ride of tingling taste for the die-hard fish lovers. It is made by deep frying cleaned and chopped fish intestines with onions, rice and chilies. As with khar, mustard oil is a must for this dish.
Duck Meat with Ash Gourd (Haahor maankho kumura logot)
The gravy of Patee hanh (Mallard Duck) with Kumura (Ash gourd) is the first choice for an authentic Assamese Thali. A white tender gourd is mandatory for this dish, along with black pepper and mustard oil. It is to be noted that any north eastern dishes, if cooked in anything other than mustard oil fails to bring out the essence of the dish. The most important step here is to burn the duck with the skin on a high flame. The thin layer of fat under the skin makes the meat very delicious.
Pigeon with Banana Flower
Pigeon meat is yet another delicacy of the Assamese people, who mostly cook it with koldil (Banana Flower). The most important part of this recipe is to cut the flower aptly, because of it has too many layers. Like any other typical Assamese meal, mustard oil and black pepper are a must for the preparation. At times, potatoes or papaya is added to the dish to make it denser.
Iromba is a Manipuri dish made of boiled vegetables mashed together in a sauce of chilly paste and fermented fish called ngari. It is marked by its strong, pungent taste. It can also be prepared by using dried fish or dried prawns. Garnished with local herbs like spring onion, chameleon leaves, coriander, Vietnamese coriander etc. it can be served with plain rice. One can prepare this during any time of the day.
Jadoh, or Khasi Pulao is the signature dish of Meghalaya. (Khasis are one of the predominant tribes of the state.) Jadoh is best served with fermented soyabean paste (Tungrymbai) and Dohneiiong (pork with sesame seeds). The only spice used is black pepper. Easy to cook, it is made by frying soaked rice (short variety) with onion, ginger paste and pork. Some claim authenticity to the dish by including pork blood to it, however, it is not mandatory. Jadoh is a complete meal in itself, but it can be complimented along with mashed potato as side dish.
Tungtap (dried fish paste)
Tungtap is a dry version of the famous fish paste that is such an integral part of meals across the region. It is made of burnt onions, fresh green chilies and Raja Mirchi (ghost pepper). Tungtaps are traditionally fermented dried fish. One can also add Winged Prickly Ash, also known as Szechuan pepper to make the dish stronger. Added to this spicy mix is dried and charred fish which imparts a meaty chewy texture to this famous dish.
Naga Smoked Pork
Smoked pork is a universal synonym to the Naga cuisine today. Cooked in a hundred different ways, smoked pork is a master piece of aroma and taste, and definitely the true representative of Naga food and culture. The most famous smoked pork recipe is with Anishi (dried leaves of yam plant). Smoked pork is equally famous with Akuni (fermented soyabeans.) Smoked pork curry with bamboo shoots is widely eaten by people across the region.
Masor Tenga (Tangy Fish Curry) is a light and tangy dish, and is one of Assam’s signature preparations. It is dish made of deep fried fish with a souring agent, wherein potatoes are at times used to thicken the gravy. The key ingredient is the tenga, which is the souring agent lending the dish a tangy taste. Items like commonly available lemon, tomatoes, sour spinach to more exotic Elephant apple, Roselle leaves and Garcinia can be used to prepare this dish. It can be best enjoyed with plain rice on a hot summer day. The tangy taste soothes the stomach and helps in digestion.
Daineiiong (Dal curry with black sesame seeds)
It is a part of the Garo Khasi cuisine, the key ingredient being black sesame seeds. Here, boiled yellow lentils (preferably split red gram) is fried in mustard oil with a paste of roasted black sesame seeds. It has absolutely no added spices, except for ginger-garlic paste and chilies. One can add coriander leaves or bay leaves for better taste.
Hope this was helpful in bringing a little ‘North Eastern’ taste to your plate.