Northeast India is a curious mélange of numerous cultures and tribes. The scenic beauty of the Northeastern region makes tourism a predominant industry in the northeast. But apart from tourism, the ‘seven sister’s states of NE’ are also renowned for their interesting cuisine and ethnic delicacies. In fact tasting the Northeast Indian food is an experience you could carry all through life. ‘Non vegetarian food’ is often held as synonymous to Northeastern cuisine but that is actually the common stereotype prevalent nationwide and worldwide. Northeasterns do cook sumptuous vegetarian dishes as well, making use of fresh herbs, bamboo shoots, fresh local greens, Bhut Jalokia. The colorful veg dishes of Northeast India are not only delectable in look and strong in flavor but also high in nutritional value. Some of the most popular Vegetarian dishes of Northeast India are listed below-
Lai Xaakor Khar or Mustard Green Khar (Assam)
This is a typical Assamese Vegetarian Dish packed with nutrients. To prepare Lai Xaakor Khar first you need to heat mustard oil to fuming hot in a heavy bottomed skillet. Next add finely chopped green chilies and minced garlic to the oil and stir fry until you find the garlic changing colors. The next step is to toss in the finely sliced mustard greens. Sauté until the greens change color and leave a typical mouth watering flavor. Then sprinkle the authentic Kola khar. Kola khar is one of the most authentic ingredients of Assamese cuisine. It is prepared by burning down the sun dried peels of banana trunk until all turn to ashes and then water is filtered through the charred trunk to give kola khar a very typical, overtly ‘Northeastern’ flavor. Once the kola khar is sprinkled over the sautéd mustard greens, you’ll see the greens shrinking after a couple of minutes. Next add 3 tbsp of rice powder, 3 cups of boiling hot water and salt to taste. Keep stirring over a low flame. Wait until the concoction turns thick. Now, remove from flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.
Ooti is a nutritious peas-based dish enhanced with the tadka of Mustard Oil. To prepare Ooti you first need to soak peas in water overnight. Next morning pressure-cook the peas until soft and set aside. Then heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, add red chilies, bay leaf, whole jeera, chopped chives and stir fry. Once the ingredients change color and chives turn crispy, add the cooked peas. Next, add some water, add soda and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring to prevent the soda from lumping up. When the gravy thickens, pour in a small amount of milk to give that final, lip-smacking touch.
Chi Al Mei (Manipur)
Chi Al Mei is nutritious and light vegetable soup from the land of Manipur. To prepare this dish, you first need to heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and then add fresh ginger paste. The next step is to add Soya sauce, red chilies and a pinch of salt to taste. Sauté the contents until they change color. Next, add chopped vegetables such as spinach, capsicum, carrot, mushroom and onions and mix well. Now, pour in some water, cover and let it boil for about 10 minutes. Remove from stove and serve fuming hot
Zan (Arunachal Pradesh)
Zan, a flavorful appetizing dish from Arunachal Pradesh is a nutritious porridge made out of boiling water and mineral rich millet flour. You can toss in some chopped and boiled vegetables like capsicum, spinach, carrots and use dry chilies, black pepper, and salt to spice it up. The whiff of flavor that you get is simply out of the world. Serve hot with bread toasts
Cauliflower Stalk Bai (Mizoram)
This is a very nutritious dish from the exotic land of Mizoram. For making Cauliflower Stock Bai you first need to boil some water in a heavy bottom pot. Next, add cooking soda and salt to the boiling water. Once the frothing subsides, add the chopped cauliflower leaves and stalks and the diced potato. Keep stirring as you add the veggies or else the soda will start forming lumps. Next, add finely sliced chilies and fresh sliced beans. Keep stirring and lastly add rice. Reduce flame and let the contents of the pot simmer for at least 15 minutes. When you see that the rice is absorbing the water and the contents are turning thick, remove it from flame and serve hot with rice or simply as an individual meal.
Kosoi Bwtwi (Tripura)
Kosoi Bwtwi is a staple vegetarian dish from Tripura. To prepare Kosoi Bwtwi, you first need to heat oil in a skillet; add the minced garlic and chopped onions and stir fry until the onions turn translucent. Next add the chopped beans, chopped green chilies, a pinch of turmeric. Now, add a cup of water, cover and cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes. Cook until the beans turn tender. Serve hot with rice.
Kinema curry (Sikkim)
Sikkimese people use this delicious and nutritious Kinema curry as their dish. Fermented soya is the key ingredient of this dish. To prepare Kinema curry, you first need to heat oil in a wok, add the finely chopped onions and keep frying until the onions turn translucent. Next add the diced tomatoes, slited green chilies, a pinch of turmeric powder and sauté for about 5 minutes. Now, add the fermented soya beans or Kinema, a pinch of salt and fry until the ingredients turn golden brown. Finally add water, cover and cook on a low flame for about 5 minutes. Once the gravy thickens, remove from flame and serve hot with fuming hot rice.
Daieneiiong is a nutritious black dal preparation from Meghalaya. The admixture of crushed sesame seeds and black dal gives the dish a distinct flavor and taste. The first step is to boil the dal until it turns tender. Keep it aside and dry roast sesame seeds in another skillet for about 2 minutes. Remove from flame and grind the roasted sesame seeds; then mix the grounded sesame seeds with ginger-garlic paste, mustard oil and table spoon of water. Add the mixture to the boiled lentils; add salt to taste. Cover and allow simmering for at least 3 minutes. Serve hot with fluffy white rice