What good food is Northeast India known for?
What good food is Northeast India Known for? If you are heading to this part of the world, it is probably a question you need to know as it often gets a terrible rep, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the Northeast is known for dishes like roasted forest rat in Arunachal Pradesh or dog meat curry in Nagaland. However, this whimsical little corner of the universe produces some delicate and unique dishes.
The Northeast of India is known affectionately as the seven sisters. These states are tucked far away from the rest of the country and it honestly feels like you are in another country entirely.
This tiny isolated slice of the Indian subcontinent is also surrounded by a multitude of different countries, including Bangladesh, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. The Northeast is also home to Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and at least 200 distinct tribal groups. As you can well imagine all of this has given a truly mind-bending effect on the culinary heritage here to the extent it would be hard for me to sum up precisely what Northeast Indian food actually is.
The best dishes of Northeast India to look out for
I think the best way to answer the question of what good food is Northeast India known for is to list some of my personal favourite dishes. I have spent an extensive amount of time travelling in the Northeast, so I believe I have some valuable insights on this topic, so here goes.
Momos are not associated with Indian food very much. In fact, the Northeast of India serves some of the best to be found anywhere. That is a big claim since these little things are some of my favourite food, period! 😍 Well, with a sizable population of both Nepalese and Tibetan people living here, it is hardly surprising you can find these bad boys in quite a few places. Momos are super tasty and inexpensive. The only trouble is one bowl is never enough.
With the mighty Brahmaputra river flowing right through the heart of Assam it is only safe to presume that fish features heavily on menus throughout the state. Well, Masor Tenga would have to be the king of all fish curries if there was one. Masor Tenga is often an integral part of an Assamese thali and quite rightly so. The word Tenga means sour in Assamese. So then it is sour fish curry. It is oddly light yet has a deep rich flavour. It is definitely one to watch out for while you are in this part of the planet.
Smoked pork and bamboo curry
Smoked pork and bamboo curry is a delicacy in Nagaland. It is unusual to find pork outside of the Northeast. Yet up here it is refreshingly familiar. As South Asian cuisine fuses with Southeast Asia, the results are astounding. The people of Nagaland have crafted some culinary masterpieces and second to none has to the smoked pork varieties. Oh my god! This fiery curry is out of this world! If you are in this beautiful state, it would almost be a crime to not indulge at least once.
Jador is an incredibly popular dish among the Khasi people of Meghalaya. It is essentially just spiced rice and pork, but it is fantastic. 🤤 Classically it is made with pigs blood, although I hardly saw that on sale anywhere.
Now before anyone jumps the gun here and says absolutely not! If you are lucky enough to get a bowl of authentic stuff, just remember there are plenty of products elsewhere in the world that includes pigs blood, isn’t there? I mean who doesn’t love a bit of black pudding, after all? So don’t let that keep you away from trying this wonderful dish unless, of course, your diet does not allow you.
Thukpa is a Tibetan classic. It is noodle soup essentially, so simple yet the people adore it. Thukpa is a staple dish in Arunachal Pradesh and you are sure to come across it. I am not really a fan of it myself as there are parts of the country where it is eaten pretty much every day, like in the far reaches of Sikkim or Ladakh. It is nice, yes, but not every day, guys.
The stock ranges from well flavoured to powdered Maggi. It is usually garnished with whatever kind of vegetables are available at the time. While Thukpa is definitely not my favourite dish, it is iconic to this part of the world and no trip here would be complete without trying it at least once.
Dohneiiong is another pork curry from Meghalaya. Yes, pork features a lot on my list of must-try dishes, but I love it and as I previously stated it is on the menus all across the seven sisters. The pork is served in a thick, sumptuous gravy that is dark because of the black sesame seeds involved in its preparation. Dohneiiong is simply fantastic on a cold winters day. I wholeheartedly recommend trying it.
Northeast India’s Ingredients
One of the most incredible things about travel in this part of the world is Northeast India’s collection of unusual ingredients. In fact, they are as diverse as the people who call this place home.
As I said before, it is where South Asia meets the Southeast. That means cumin is used as much as lemongrass. You can find galangal right next to ginger. oh, and did I mention pork is everywhere? I think I did? As a chef myself, I was blown away by the share diversity of just about everything. If I am honest, many of the ingredients I saw on sale I didn’t even have the first clue what they were. Forest vines, berries and lichens can be found in markets all across this part of the world.
That’s all good and all, but it’s where the meats get strange. I have seen rats, bats, dogs, newts, frogs, spiders and all kinds of wildlife most of us would never normally even consider eating on sale here.
So umm, 🧐 you say you are adventurous when you travel your taste buds, aye? Well, this can be the place where you put that little theory to the test if you like. I have met quite a few people in the Northeast that does not appreciate the stereotype of them eating weird things, but in all fairness, it’s kind of difficult not to give it when you see it on sale everywhere, right?
In summary of my blog on what good food is Northeast India known for?
As you can see, the Northeast of India is incredibly diverse in its cuisine and, for that matter, just anything else. For me it surely all adds to the experience of travel in this part of the world. To be honest, I was very impressed with many of the dishes I tried and I am honestly looking forward to trying some more. Just remember your sense of adventure when you travel in the Northeast as you will need it in more ways than one.
Well, here ends my blog on what good food is Northeast India known for? If you enjoyed this content and I do hope you did, there is a good chance you will enjoy more in my food travel series. Why dont you check out my posts on the cuisines of South India, Rajasthan, Goa, West Bengal or New Dehli when you get the chance? There is also an In-depth insight into both the world-famous Mughlai cuisine and its sweets that are well worth the read for those who want to get a little more from their Indian gastronomic experience.
If you are planning one epic trip across the subcontinent, then please feel free to check out my blog on where to get the very best food in India. This post is a conglomeration of the very best places I have discovered with almost half a decade travelling here, so you may well find it to be of use to you.
With that said, as usual, if you have any questions or queries, then please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you. I think that’s enough for now, so I will see you in the next post, guys. 😁
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