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Thanks to taste and health benefits, the Northeast cusine is finding new takers

Thanks to taste and health benefits, cuisine from the Northeast is finding new takers

brunch Updated: May 16, 2015 20:38 IST
Hoihnu Hauzel
Hoihnu Hauzel
Hindustan Times
Hoihnu Hauzel,Northeast cuisine

The rest of India knew little about the people and cuisine of northeast India: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. Just like their topographical beauty, the gastronomic fare of the states remains by and large hidden from the rest of the country.

This segregation had more to do with lack of marketing than the quality of the cuisine itself. So these delicacies continued to be prepared and appreciated within the confines of their areas.

The hallmark of Northeast cooking is simplicity full of flavour. People in the mountainous region rely on ingredients that are accessible to them: mostly herbs and spices that are within their reach. For instance, ginger, garlic, bamboo shoots, fermented soya bean and fermented fish. They lace their cooking with minimum spices and oil. All the flavour comes from the ingredients.

Over the years, the craving for newer flavours has brought new regional cuisine out of these boundaries. Food entrepreneurs from the region have gathered the courage to open restaurants serving Northeast food.

These offerings are lapped up not just by homesick Northeasterners, but also a growing tribe of converts willing to experiment with different flavours. It isn’t just the food pavilions at New Delhi’s Dilli Haat that serve food from the region. You can easily try cooking up two of the local favourites too:

Galho - Rice with Vegetables

Preparation time: 20 minutes,

Cooking time: 15 minutes, Serves 7

1/2 cup rice
1 medium-sized cabbage leaf (washed and torn into 1” pieces by hand)
5 French beans (trim and break into small pieces by hand)
1 tomato (chopped)
5 large mustard leaves (wash and shred by hand)
1 tbsp ginger (chopped)
1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
1 tbsp garlic (chopped)
3 green chillies (chopped)
Salt to taste


Wash rice and drain. Put 2.5 cups of water in a pan and bring to boil over high heat. Add rice, bring to boil again, lower heat and simmer till rice is fluffy and soft. Add all the ingredients, except salt, to the rice and simmer over low heat till vegetables are done. Stir in salt and serve hot or cold.

Paheli dal with pork

Preparation time: 20 minutes,
Cooking time: 15 minutes, Serves 5

1/2 kg pork
1/2 cup whole green lentils (moong dal)
2 tbsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
3 cups water

Thoroughly wash the pork, cut into large chunks (2-3”) and set aside. In a heavy bottomed pan, boil water and lentils for 10 minutes till the lentils are partially cooked. Add the salt and spices. Stir and gradually add chunks of pork into the mixture.

Cover and allow it to cook on a low flame. Occasionally stir to prevent it from getting too thick at the bottom and to ensure it is mixed well. Once the pork is soft, it is ready to eat. This can be served for both lunch and dinner with steamed or boiled rice.

Hoihnu Hauzel is a journalist. She has authored The Essential Northeast Cookbook (Penguin), a comprehensive guide to the cultures and cuisines of the region.

From HT Brunch, May 17
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First Published: May 16, 2015 16:52 IST