Exploring the diverse cuisine of North East India

Let’s take a closer look at some classic North East Indian dishes

20 Apr 2023

When it comes to food, India is a land of incredible diversity, with each region boasting its own unique culinary traditions and specialties. North East India has a diverse cuisine, unlike any other part of the country.

The region, comprising eight states, is home to numerous indigenous communities, each with its own distinct culinary practices. Furthermore, the cuisine of this region places significant emphasis on utilising fresh ingredients.

Let’s embark on a culinary journey through the North East and discover some of the hidden gems of our rich cuisine.

Kumurat Diya Hanhor Mangxo, Assam

This traditional duck meat curry is made with kumurat (the Assamese name for ash gourd) which gives the dish a unique flavour. Duck meat, known to be one of the most beloved dishes of Assamese families, is also quite delectable! The duck is slow-cooked with a slew of spices, including ginger, garlic, onion, black pepper, and squashed cardamom until it is tender and juicy. This dish is usually served with steamed rice during celebratory events, and it is a must-try for anyone visiting Assam.

Sanpiau, Mizoram

Sanpiau, a traditional Mizo dish, is made by soaking short grain rice overnight and then slow cooking it in a pot with fresh coriander paste, crushed black pepper, freshly cut spring onions, and a spicy fish sauce or meat broth. Sanpiau is a nourishing comfort food that is renowned for its soupy texture. It is a popular choice for lunch as well as snack time among the people of Mizo, owing to its wholesome nature.

Fish Tenga, Assam

Tenga means sour, this tangy dish is prepared with fish and OuTenga, the Assamese name for elephant apple, which adds a tart flavour to the dish. The broth is flavoured with black mustard seeds and curry leaves. The dish is served with steamed rice and is perfect for a warm, comforting meal on a chilly evening.

Smoked Pork, Nagaland

Naga smoked pork is made by smoking pork meat over a fire made with bamboo shoots. The pork is then cooked slowly with a variety of local spices, and the raja mircha or bhoot jolokia, the spiciest chili on the planet. Naga smoked pork uses steamed pork cuts sautéed with bamboo shoots or matured soybean or sweet potato leaves. The dish has a smoky flavour and is commonly accompanied by rice and chutney.

Nga Atoiba Thongba, Manipur

Nga Atoiba Thongba is a popular dish among the Meitei community in Manipur, where it is usually made using freshwater fish. The name roughly translates to ‘disintegrated fish curry’. A variety of vegetables are cooked in a spicy gravy after which fresh pieces of unmarinated fish are lightly tossed in, naturally breaking down the fish. This allows for the fish to soak up the flavours of the gravy. The dish has a spicy kick and is typically served with steamed rice.

North East Indian cuisine is a treasure trove of unique and flavourful dishes. The region's emphasis on fresh ingredients and minimal use of oil and spices make it a healthy and nutritious option for anyone looking to explore new cuisines.

What are some other popular North East Indian dishes you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

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