Pork with freshwater snails
Pork with freshwater snails

Manipuri cuisine refers to the cuisine of Manipur, a state of northeastern India. Daily meals are based on rice, with a few side dishes of vegetables, fish and meat.[1] A meal would usually have a vegetable stew called ensaang or athongba, flavored with dried or fried fish; stir-fried vegetables called kanghou; and a spicy item, which could be morok metpa (a chilli paste), iromba (boiled and mashed vegetables with chilli and fermented fish), or singju (a piquant salad). All piquant side dishes are accompanied by a choice of fresh herbs, collectively called maroi. The base and essence of Meitei cuisine is the fermented fish called ngari. Several dishes of meat, mostly chicken and pork,[2] are cooked with unique recipes.[3] As a result of religious taboos, however, the Pangals do not cook the latter.

A side of steamed (a-ngaanba) or boiled vegetables with a hint of sugar (cham-phut) are also quite common as palate cleansers in most meals. The aromatics of most dishes start with frying bay leaf, chives, onion, garlic, and ginger in mustard oil. The rest of the vegetables follow after that. Oil is sparingly used in most of the main stews but the sides of kanghou (stir-fried spicy vegetables) and bora (fritters) make up for that. Fish is also a staple, and appears in every meal, either as ngaari or as roasted or fried pieces. While fish is an essential part of the diet, due to increasing prices, fish curry is prepared only occasionally, or during feasts. The Meiteis and the Pangals live in the valley of Manipur where freshwater fish from lakes and rivers and ponds had been plentiful until recent times. While part of the cuisine has some influences from the cuisines of Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central Asia, Siberia, Micronesia, Polynesia, the Arctic as well as from Assam and West Bengal, the essence remains distinct from any other.

Basic diet

The staple diet of Manipur consists of rice, fish, large varieties of leafy vegetables (of both aquatic and terrestrial).[4] Manipuris typically raise vegetables in a kitchen garden and rear fishes in small ponds around their house. Since the vegetables are either grown at home or obtained from local market, the cuisines are very seasonal, each season having its own special vegetables and preparations. The taste is very different from other Indian cuisines because of the use of various aromatic herbs and roots that are peculiar to the region.[5]

Aromatic herbs and roots used by the Manipuris

  1. Nungshi hidak (Mint)
  2. Maroi napaakpi (Hooker chives)
  3. Yenam (maroi nakuppi) (Chinese chives)
  4. Awaa phadigom (Mexican coriander)
  5. Mayang-ton (Lemon basil)
  6. Toning-khok (chameleon plant)
  7. Khanghuman / Kanghu-maan (Meriandra dianthera,[6] formerly Meriandra bengalensis)
  8. Mukthrubi (Zanthoxylum armatum[6] / Sichuan peppercorn)
  9. Phakpai (Vietnamese coriander)
  10. Chantruk (pepper cress)
  11. Yaipan (Curcuma angustifolia[6])
  12. Kang-hu mapaan
  13. Takhel-manao
  14. Leibakmaroom
  15. Uyen (similar to shiitake mushroom)
  16. Uchi-na (jelly ear)
  17. Chengum (mushroom)
  18. Charu-yen
  19. Kanglayen (split gill mushroom),
  20. Ushoi (bamboo shoots)

There are also ingredients in the cuisine that require an acquired taste, such as Hawaijaar (fermented soya bean, somewhat similar to the Japanese Natto), Soibum (fermented bamboo shoot), Ngaa-ri (fermented fish), and Hentak (fermented fish powder and herbs).

Meats and seafood used by the Manipuris

Dishes

Chahao kheer, a popular dessert of Manipur
Chahao kheer, a popular dessert of Manipur

References

  1. ^ "In pursuit of that nostalgic taste and aroma".
  2. ^ "Classic Manipur Pork Curry".
  3. ^ "In pursuit of that nostalgic taste and aroma".
  4. ^ "Cuisines of North East India".
  5. ^ "some fruits and foods of Manipur". Archived from the original on 10 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Flowers of India".
  7. ^ a b "Ngari". Leirang - the culinary journey. 18 February 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010.