Other than being a razzmatazz of arts & culture, the 3-day event that concluded recently was also one of the biggest celebrations of the region’s cuisine in the national capital
New Delhi: The delightful notes wafting from a musical performance in the main arena and aroma of food simmering over slow fires in the very large food court proved to be a heady mix for most visitors. In fact, Delhiites were introduced to a mindboggling variety of preparations in meats such as fish, chicken, goat and pork from the Northeast.
Although pork is considered to be a delicacy in most parts of the region, it is not widely consumed in North India. However, that didn’t deter several visitors from trying it out for the first time. On being asked about the overall response to the meat from the Delhi crowd, Sajid from Assam said, “The choice of food that one eats is something personal. I am Muslim but I prepare pork. So, people are eagerly trying out pork dishes at our stall.” Another interesting specialty at his stall was ‘smoked tea’ that is prepared after smoking tea leaves in a bamboo stem.
A remarkable thing about the food court was that the fare available in one stall was very different from what was available in the next even if both were from the same state. Despite their relatively small size and low concentration of populations, states such as Arunachal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura contain a remarkable variety of the cultural and culinary kind. For instance, if the standard Assam thali comprising rice, dal, chutney and one pork or chicken dish was on offer, there was also Bodo cuisine from the Dooar region of the state.
Excited groups of visitors could be seen not only placing orders but also seeking recipes of young men and women manning the service counters. Despite the rush, the stall owner would quickly take the inquisitive visitor through the main ingredients in the dishes with an immense sense of pride.
The delicate-looking Pyrkhastshwa from Meghalaya told EastMojo, “The specialty of Khasi food is that it’s freshly prepared using local spices.” Pointing towards the serving dishes containing rice, minced pork salad and chicken, she claimed, “You won’t get the same freshness in flavours anywhere else.”
A qualified chef and now a first-generation entrepreneur, Priyakhee seconded Pyrkhastshwa. “The USP of the food from the region is that it’s not at all heavy on spices and always served fresh.” At the prodding of her family and friends, she recently decided to launch into the food business on her own.
Despite the rich variety of meat dishes on offer, the vegans in the crowd weren’t complaining either. They could be seen relishing wholesome vegetarian momos and cabbage-based salads. Pickles and sweets made of rice also witnessed brisk sales.
Therefore, other than leisure and adventure, it is worth visiting Northeast for the dazzling variety of cuisines that the region has to offer. However, if you are unable to do that for anytime soon, then wait for the 2020 edition of the Northeast Festival as that’s likely to be even bigger and better.