Sometimes the comforting taste of casual street food is better than a glamorous night out at a fine dining restaurant. And Northeast India has a street food culture that is as vibrant as its heritage and as beautiful as its people.
Order any dish from a street eatery in the Northeast and it’s likely to be packed with an abundance of flavours that come at a minimal price. Contrary to popular perception, Northeast food is way more varied than just momos and noodles, although these too can taste divine.
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Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, while Tripura is better known for its bursting masalas, a trait it shares with the rest of the country. Assamese food ranges from spicy to bland, with rice being the centrepiece of this cuisine.
In short, the street food in Northeast India is extraordinary but you definitely need some prior knowledge about what the region is best known for. Here are 8 amazing local delights from Northeast India that will leave your palate demanding more.
Laksa from Assam
Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine. Laksa consists of rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, prawn or fish, served in spicy soup; either based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk, or based on sour asam (tamarind or gelugur). It can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.
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Thenthuk from Arunachal Pradesh
Thenthuk is a hearty hand-pulled noodle soup made from meat stock, local hill vegetables and freshly made noodles. It is similar in taste and texture to thukpa(Tibetan noodle soup). While thukpa is made from flat noodles, thenthukuses hand-pulled or bite sized pieces of flat noodles. Traditionally eaten to keep warm during the freezing winters of Arunachal Pradesh, this deliciously comforting dish warms your soul.
Chikhvi in Tripura
A fragrant stir fry of bamboo shoots and sliced pork, Tripura’s chikvi is a dish that achieves the perfect balance of smokiness and lusciousness. It is made with stir fried chopped bamboo shoots and sliced pork. Other ingredients added are soaked jack fruit seed, green papaya, green chillies, ginger paste, turmeric powder, rice flour paste, and fresh lime leaves.
Add baking soda in a kadhai full of water and boil for sometime. Add all other ingredients, cover the lid and cook for 20-25 minutes. Add fresh lemon leaved and cook uncovered for sometime more and serve hot with rice.
Smoked pork stir fry in Nagaland
Put the pork in a pressure cooker and cook in medium flame for about 2 mins. Stir once to avoid burning the meat at the bottom of the pressure cooker.
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Add some salt according to taste and stir the meat slightly. Then, gently put in the chopped onions and stir fry for a minute. And then add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir fry for another minute. Add the raja mirchas and bamboo shoots and gently stir.
Kelli Chana in Manipur
The staple diet of Manipur consists of rice, variety of leafy vegetables and fish. Manipuris typically raise vegetables in a kitchen garden and rear fishes in small ponds around their house.
They cook dishes based on the seasonal produce and the dishes taste very different from mainland Indian cuisine because of the use of the various aromatic herbs and roots that are unique to the region.
Shapale in Sikkim
Similar to a large deep fried momo or a samosa, the Tibetan-origin shapale is essentially a meat pie. With a crunchy, doughy exterior and a gooey interior filled with minced chicken/meat, onions, and spices, shapale is an anytime street snack in Sikkim. Add a touch of the fiery hot chilli sauce to this savoury pie and pair it with rutang soup (soup made from bony meats) for a truly delectable street food experience.