North East India or the Seven Sisters of North East as they are fondly called boast of rare natural beauty and amazing God given wonders. However one facet of North East that is rarely publicized in their tourist adverts is the range of delectable cuisine which they offer. Each state in North East has something special to offer to the culinary landscape of India. Most of the dishes are made of locally sourced ingredients and therefore make for a wonderful change of taste to the average jaded palette. Here are the top 27 delicious dishes found in North East India.
1. Khar from Assam
A traditional meal in Assam is never complete without the presence of Khar. This is a completely off beat dish prepared out of the unusual combination of red rice, beaten pulses and raw papaya along with traditional Assamese spices. The interesting thing is that the ingredients are all mixed together and then filtered through a pipe stuffed with desiccated banana ash. The fragrance of dried banana imparts a flavor that is wholesome as well as exotic. This dish is a full bodied recipe that can be cooked for lunch. Being gluten free this is a safe option for diabetics and health conscious people.
Related: How to Prepare Assamese Khar
2. Pitha from Assam
Pitha is a snack that is consumed quite frequently in Assam. Locals have sweet Pitha for breakfast while salted ones are coated in light butter and tea. Rice mixed with light spices and salt/sugar is molded into thin tubes and stuffed inside a hollow stem of bamboo. The Pitha is then fried/roasted/barbequed inside the hollow bamboo stem and this gives the pitha an exotic flavor. The pitha can be made sweet or savory and most locals prefer the sweet version. One can taste this mesmerizing snack with beaten curd and molasses.
3. Smoked pork from Nagaland
Nagaland is well known for its pork delicacies and locals here consider Pork to be their main source of meat. The smoked pork dish is crispy on its outer side while the inner portion is juicy and succulent. The pieces of pork are cut into small pieces and can either be prepared in a dry form or in a curry form with localized ingredients. The presence of bamboo shoot inside the pork dish brings out the intense smoky flavor. The other ingredients like Akhuni (fermented soya bean) and anishi (fermented leaves of the yam) are sometimes added to the pork to bring out different flavors. The fiery tinge is added by the infusion of a pinch of Raja Mirchi which is the most potent chilly in the world. The smoked pork curry tastes heavenly with steamed plain rice.
Related: Naga pork with bamboo shoot
4. Tenga Fish from Assam
Tenga is a fish dish which is both sour and deliciously fragrant in taste. This fish preparation is made by locally caught fish sourced from the rivers of Assam. The addition of plenty of sun dried tomatoes, lemon rind and green chilies adds a zing to this light and appetizing dish. Usually the fish is fried in mustard oil and then curried with spinach and bottle gourd. Like most Assamese side dishes Tenga is enjoyed best with plain white rice.
Related: Tempting Ou Tenga Recipes from Assam
5. Eromba from Manipur
Eromba is the perfect healthy wholesome food for any person who wants to experiment with the cuisine of Manipur. All the fresh vegetables of the season are either boiled or steamed in an infusion of lots of Raja Mirchi. When the veggies have imbibed the fiery smoky flavor of the chilies then they are mixed with smoked or roasted fish and then mashed in wholesomely together. This light and nutritious dish is great with both rice and Manipuri Millet bread.
Related: Top Eateries In Imphal
6. Pigeon Meat with Banana Flowers/ Koldhil Paro Manghose from Assam
Koldhil Parho Mangsho is an exotic Assamese dish that is very popular amidst the tourist circuit. The pigeon meat is cut into really small pieces and mashed together with tender banana flowers. Peppercorns, freshly ground turmeric, garlic, red chilies, ginger, bay leaves, fenugreek grains, cumin and Ajwain go into the succulent and soft meat to impart it a tender and almost exotic fragrance that is hard to forget. Locals use mustard oil and baby bay leaves to temper this preparation which is then served with rice.
7. Thekera Tengar Hoite Mass from Assam
Thekera is a kind or root or tuber typically found in Assam. Its purpose is to act as a souring agent and it is distinctively different from lime and Imli. This delicious Assamese preparation of Thekera Tengar Hoite Mass is made up of cleansed small cut cat fish, green chilly extracts, panch foron and mustard oil. This is a light dish that is healthy as well as undeniably delicious. The cat fish has to be deep fried in mustard oil first before mixing it with the other ingredients and cooking on a low flame.
Related: Bottle Gourd in Assamese Recipes
8. Jadoh from Meghalaya
Jadoh is a popular Meghalayan dish which is very popular in the North Eastern food circuit of India. Jadoh is usually prepared with Amrmbrosial rice that is a specialty of Meghalaya. This rice is long grained; light red colored and endowed with a distinctive fragrance apart from being deliciously low in gluten. Very less oil is used to prepare the Jadoh which makes it low in calories and healthier than the other types of Pulav traditionally consumed in India. While the vegetarian one is flavored with tomato, tinda, jhinga, potato and okra the non vegetarian Jadoh is packed with succulent pieces of pork.
9. Zan from Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is a land of exotic tastes and smells and one of the best examples of its culinary diversity is Zan which is a wonderfully spicy porridge. Zan is a highly customizable dish which can be enhanced with a lot of green vegetables and smoked meat. The locally sourced spices added to the dish bring a sweet and spicy aroma to the porridge. This dish is quite low in calories and easy to digest too which makes it popular amongst the tourist circuit.
10. Bai from Mizoram
Mizoram cuisine finds its best representation in Bai which is a spicy and sour dish. Pork is one of the most used meats in Mizoram and predictably the dish Bai also gets its base from pork. This dish also has a major base of spinach which makes it good source of iron too. Tender young bamboo shoots are added to the mixture of Bai as this gives it an aromatic flavor. This is a quite spicy dish which can be paired with sweet and chewy Mizoram rice. Sample Bai to add one more name to your repertoire of favorite North East dishes.
Related: 5 Tasty Recipes from Mizoram
11. Thupka from Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim
Thupka is arguable the most popular of all North Eastern dishes in India. Basically originating from the hilly Tibetan terrains, this warm and nutritious dish has a noodle base and is the perfect winter dish. Thupka is available in many variants and can be found in vegetarian and non vegetarian versions. Shallow fried Chicken/Pork/Mutton is the meat base for this dish while onions, finely shredded ginger, garlic pods, spring onion add the flavor to this dish. Noodles used in Thupka are egg noodles which are seasoned with salt and pepper.
12. Iromba from Manipur
Here is a dish that acts well as a snack as well as a main dish. Iromba is quite a healthy and nutritious dish and is quite versatile too. The flavors of Iromba vary according to the season as seasonal vegetables and locally available spices are added here. There are two versions of Iromba; one with Tokningkok garnishing and another with Mayang Maton Garnish. Fermented fish, finely chopped vegetables and fiery red chilly make this dish a sure shot winner. The Iromba pairs delightfully well both with Rice as well as millet and jowar flat breads.
Related: Going Italian with Pizza in Imphal
13. Awan Bangwi from Tripura
Awan Babgwi is a specialty of the local cuisine of Tripura. This dish is made up of long grained coarse textured Guria rice and is fashioned into the shape of a cake. Rich chunks of garlic, cashew pieces, long bodied sultanas and ginger gratings go into the making of Awan Bangwi. Each bite into the Awan Bangwi cake will reveal a burst of textures and flavors that are spicy and aromatic. This dish can be taken at any time of the day and still tastes wonderfully delicious. The best thing about Awan Bangwi is that it comes wrapped in the fragrant Lairu.
14. Sungat Diya Maas from Arunachal Pradesh
Sungat Diya literally translates into Bamboo Fish. The stem, leaves and shoot of Bamboo play quite an integral role in the cuisine of North East and specially Arunachal Pradesh. The river fish or Arunachal are cleaned, spiced and stuffed into the stem of moist bamboo after which the stems are slowly pressurized over fire or boiling water. In time the meat gets a succulent tender flavor and the fragrance of bamboo gets infused inside. Final garnishing is done with the rind of Gondhoraj Lebu or Lemon. The final dish is wrapped in tender banana leaves and served piping hot.
15. Misa Mach Poora from Meghalaya
This dish is a delicious light veined preparation made up of baby shrimps, pepper corns and coarsely ground coriander. Being grilled this dish is a good option for tourists who want to sample the exotic cuisine of Meghalaya without having to sample excessively oily and spicy stuff. The magical aroma of Misa maach dish comes from its unique grilling process in tender banana leaves. The juice from the leaves seeps into the shrimps and endows it with a tangy earthy aroma. This delicious dish is too great with steamed rice.
16. Bamboo Shoot Fry in Meghalaya
If you are wondering about the relative absence of quality vegetarian dishes in North East cuisine then the famous Bamboo Shoot Fry is here to appease your fears. A one foot long tender shoot of Bamboo is scaled and cut into tiny pieces. The Baking Soda which goes into this dish neutralizes any acidity that may be present in the Bamboo. Slow cooked and then garnished with Fenugreek as well as dry red chilies; this dish is good to have as a side dish with traditional molasses tea or local Meghalayan liquor.
17. Egg Daal From Meghalaya
This wholesome dish is well balanced and perfect as an item for your daily lunch palette. The thick and deliciously creamy daal has Moong Dal, Ahrar Dal, Masoor Dal along with softened semi boiled eggs. Garlic, tomatoes, green chilies and the generous helping of turmeric gives the dish a unique flavor. The egg is crushed and melted into the dal mixture and the dish gets an amazing taste. This Meghayan version of the popular Dal Tarka is usually consumed with crispy hot local millet flat breads.
Related: Delicious Fry Recipes Of Assam
18. Gyathuk from Sikkim
If you like having Thupka then you will be charmed by the Gyathuk as well. The base of Gyathuk just like Thukpa is egg noodle or plain noodles. The dish is flavored with a lot of Sikkimese spices and Ajinamoto. There is a vegetarian version of Gyathuk which is very healthy and filled with seasonally available vegetables and shreds of ice berg lettuce. The meat version of Gyathuk tastes wonderfully well with either pork or lamb meat. The chicken version of the Gyathuk is less popular but equally delicious. This dish is usually consumed with chunks of warm bread that is dipped into it.
19. Naga Pork Curry from Nagaland
Naga locals are totally in love with pork and they can cook the pork in many different styles. Pork can be cooked with fermented shoots of bamboo and fermented soya beans in a way that is very different from the pork that is found in the different parts of India. The pork when cooked well becomes extremely tender and then the cubed onions and green chilies are added to it infusing the meat with a burst of different flavors. The fermented soya beans add the special Naga flavor to the dish and it accompanies quite well a bowl of steamed rice and fish paste.
20. Tungtap from Meghalaya
Tungtap is a dry version of the famous fish paste that is such an integral part of the daily meals of the localities. No traditional lunch in Meghalaya is complete without a serving of the Tungtap which is made of burnt onions, fresh green chilies and Raja Mirchi. Added to the spicy mix is dried and charred fish and this imparts a meaty chewy texture to this famous North East Chutney. The TungTap is packaged and sold in Meghalaya. If you ever visit the state then do bring back a couple of bottles of Tung Tap from there as it is sure to impart a daily zing to your dal chawal.
Related: Food to try out while in Shillong
21.Poora Haah from Meghalaya
Poora Haah or Roast duck from Meghalaya is one of the most popular dishes around. This is so filling that it can act as a complete meal in itself. One medium duck seasoned with slices of white bread, diced potatoes, spoons of lemon juice, pinch of black pepper is slow roasted for at least 2 hours over a medium flame. The juices of the condiments and spices mix together in the duck till it is cooked to perfection. Spring onions, pulped and cooked eggs, vinegar and some pinches of chili powder gives the dish a unique flavor. Roasted potatoes as a side helping plus warm bread or boiled rice will complete this wholesome and delicious local Meghalaya meal.
Related: Top Eateries in Shillong
22. Rongmei Cabbage Curry with Pork Fat from Nagaland
In this typical Nagaland dish you can get to sample a vegetarian dish cooked in a unique non-vegetarian style. The sliced cabbage used in this simple yet unusual dish gets a special flavor from pork lard and pork fat which are added to give the dish a binding agent. Like all Naga dishes there are notes of onion, red chili paste, garlic and tomatoes in the cabbage curry. This is a standard Nagaland dish that is only served in that state but it’s actually so simple to prepare that you can easily try it at home. Try this dish with chapattis and see for yourself!!
23. Mangal Ooti from Manipur
Mangal Ooti is an example of the tremendous variety that traditional Manipuri cuisine offers. This dish is a typical vegetarian dish (a rarity in North East cuisine) and is cooked without using even a drop of non vegetarian contents. The yellow peas which are also called Mangal in Manipur are the base for this awesome dish. All that is done in the dish brings out the flavor of the peas with the help of Ushoi (a dry spicy herb only found in Manipur). Bay leaves and Anchovies give the dish the rest of its flavors. Once the dish is well cooked it will taste great both with rice and chapatti.
Related: 5 Tangy Veg Dishes from Manipur
24. Eromba with Potatoes and Bamboo from Manipur
Eromba is the traditional chutney cooked by the Meitei’s living in the valley of Imphal in Manipur. This is indeed really spicy chutney that Manipur is known for. Manipurians have this chutney daily at lunch and at dinner too. Dried and fermented fish, Raja Chilly, fermented shoots of bamboo make up this unusual chutney. The Potato version of Eromba is more conventional and can go really well with North Indian dishes as well .This is why Eromba Potato is stored and sold in air tight containers to tourists. The Eromba potato gets its zing from roasted garlic pods and crushed coriander.
25. Black Sticky Rice Pudding or Naap Nang from Nagaland
The Black Sticky Rice Pudding is one of the best sweet dishes cooked in North East India. The dish is flavored in a subtle way with sweet nuts and the taste borders on a rich molasses like sweetness. The Black sticky rice pudding is full of fiber and is good for heath and can even be consumed by diabetics. The black glutinous rice is a complex carbohydrate which slowly releases sugar in the system and doesn’t allow you to put on weight. The diary whitener or skimmed milk and the hint of saffron and pistachio in the dish give it a unique and delightful flavor.
26. Lima Beans Curry with Beef from Nagaland
This wholesome beef dish is cooked with zero oil and is awesomely tasty. The dish derives its flavor from coarsely ground turmeric, trimmed Lima beans, baby potatoes, onion and garlic. There is very less use of spices and this makes this dish easy to digest. The Lima beans are crushed and cooked on a very high flame and when the meat is put inside the pot the fat is gradually extracted from it till it reaches a warm gooey consistency. Chopped onion and shredded coriander are said to provide garnishing to this beef dish and it should be allowed to sit for a couple of hours before being served with steamed rice and fiery red chutney. If you want the beef broth to be a little thicker then ask for the Lima bean beef curry to be served with mashed potatoes.
Related: 3 Sumptuous Naga Recipes Without Oil
27. Aloo Kangmet from Manipur
Boiled and mashed potatoes with chilies and anchovies with a hint of onion is all what Aloo Kangmet is all about. Kangmet basically translates into dry mash. Manipuri locals have the Aloo Kangmet frequently with Dal and it is the north east version of boiled potato. The potato is mashed into a creamy warm texture and mixed with fiery red chilies and fried onions. The potato takes on a red color and looks as delicious as it is to taste.
Related: Yong Chak Beans of Manipur
28. Wines from Sikkim
Though Nasik still holds its own in the wine circuit of India Sikkim’s wine has its own legion of loyal followers. Wine is made here from rhodendron, plum, apple, pear and peach and is packaged to many parts of India. A mention of the cuisine of North East is incomplete without the delicious wines of Sikkim.
So these are some of the top-rated dishes that make North East cuisine famed worldwide.