When it comes to food and cuisine, there will hardly be any region that can boast of such a wide variety of dishes as North East India. In the absence of cookbooks and food blogs, the wonderful and delicious cuisine of the region has remained under wraps, waiting to be discovered by you.
An Assamese platter will most definitely have a generous sprinkling of fresh green chillies, coriander, coarse pepper powder, bamboo shoot, ginger, mint, mustard oil and garlic. A simple dish is transformed into an exotic one once the freshness of these ingredients is mixed with Assamese style of cooking.
In Manipur, people cook by instinct alone, making even the ordinary extremely extraordinary. It is no surprise then that the cuisine is awesomely assorted —from the simple and bland to the lavish and pungent. Iromba is the staple diet of Manipuris and generally made of boiled vegetables mashed together in a sauce of chilly paste and ngari (fermented fish). It is then served with a combination of herbs and garnish – onion, spring onion, coriander, basil etc.
On special occasions in Meghalaya, pork is cooked with black sesame seed and enjoyed with steamed rice; the meat is melt-in-the-mouth and after the last morsel is done, you are left with a heady aroma of mustard oil and turmeric on your fingers. And, whereas in many parts of India rice is eaten as a steaming heap on a plate or cooked slowly into a thick creamy dessert, the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos of Meghalaya eat it in ways that are more innovative. Rice is soaked, usually overnight, slightly dried and then pounded in a stone thlong (mortar) into a fine, dusty powder.
Naga cuisine is simple as the ingredients are common and the cooking style is basic, mainly boiling and steaming. Also, spices are unheard-of. Smoked meat, pork and beef are Naga specialties’. The purpose of smoking the meat is to preserve it for longer periods, with the roasted fat endowing the meat with a very pleasant aroma. Smoked meat roasted over charcoal is a personal favourite. Nagas are fond of chutneys (a spicy condiment of Indian origin, made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar). Bhoot Jolokia or Raja Mircha is mostly used in chutney and also in fish and meat preparations but some eat it raw as well. Considering the fiery flavor of Raja Mircha, it is quite a feat in itself.