Arunachal Pradesh, a state in northeastern India, is known for its picturesque landscapes and diverse culture. But the state has much more to offer than just scenic beauty. The traditional dishes of Arunachal Pradesh are a unique blend of flavors and ingredients, reflecting the state’s rich cultural heritage.
If you’re looking to explore the culinary culture of Arunachal Pradesh, here are the top 10 traditional dishes you must try.
1. Apong - The Traditional Beer
Apong is a traditional beer made from fermented rice, a staple in many households in Arunachal Pradesh. This drink is a popular choice during festivals and ceremonies. The taste of Apong is unique and best enjoyed with traditional Arunachalee dishes.
The production of Apong involves the fermentation of rice or millet. The process begins with the soaking of the grains in water for several hours. After this, the grains are spread out on a bamboo mat and allowed to sprout. The sprouted grains are then roasted, pounded, and mixed with water to form a dough-like consistency. The dough is then placed in a container and covered with banana leaves to ferment for a few days.
Apong is usually served in bamboo mugs and has a slightly sour taste with a distinct aroma. It is consumed at room temperature and is often paired with spicy food to balance out the flavors.
2. Thukpa - A Heartwarming Noodle Soup
Thukpa, a popular noodle soup, originated in Tibet but has become a favorite dish in Arunachal Pradesh. It is made with boiled noodles, vegetables, and meat or seafood. The vegetables used in the soup vary according to season and availability. Commonly used vegetables include carrots, cabbage, beans, onions, and green leafy vegetables. The meat or seafood used in the soup can be anything from chicken, pork, and beef, to fish and prawns.
The broth of the soup is flavored with a variety of spices and herbs. Some of the commonly used spices include ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. These spices give the soup its distinct flavor and aroma, making it a treat for the senses.
3. Momos - The Classic Dumplings
Momos, a type of dumpling, is a popular snack in Arunachal Pradesh. These delicacies are often filled with meat and served with spicy chutney. You can find them in local markets, and they are a must-try when visiting the state.
The dish consists of a filling that is wrapped in a thin layer of dough made with refined flour and water. The filling can be made with various types of meat such as chicken, pork, and beef or vegetables like cabbage, carrot, and mushrooms. The meat or vegetables are minced and mixed with onions, garlic, ginger, and other spices, giving them a flavorful and aromatic taste.
Momos are typically served with a spicy tomato-based sauce that is made with tomatoes, chilies, garlic, and vinegar. The sauce adds an extra burst of flavor to the momos and complements the mild and subtle taste of the dumpling.
4. Zan - The Nutritious Porridge
Zan, a porridge-like dish made from millet flour, is a traditional breakfast dish in Arunachal Pradesh. It is often served with butter tea and is a healthy and nutritious dish that will keep you full and satisfied throughout the day.
To prepare Zan, rice flour is mixed with water to form a thick paste. The paste is then kneaded to make it soft and pliable. Small pieces of the dough are then rolled into balls and flattened to make thin circular discs. These discs are then cooked on a hot griddle or a flat pan until they are cooked and slightly crispy.
Zan is often served with a stew made with meat or vegetables such as beef, pork, potatoes, and cabbage. The stew is cooked with various spices like ginger, garlic, and chili and is thickened with cornflour or potato starch to give it a rich and creamy texture. The combination of the soft and chewy Zan and the flavorful and hearty stew is a match made in heaven.
5. Bamboo Shoot Fry - A Healthy Side Dish
Bamboo shoots are a common ingredient in many traditional dishes in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a seasonal dish that is typically prepared during the monsoon season when the bamboo shoots are at their freshest. The tender bamboo shoots are peeled and sliced into thin pieces, which are then boiled in salt water to remove any bitterness.
Once the bamboo shoots are cooked, they are then sautéed with onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilies, giving the dish a unique and delicious flavor. The dish is rich in nutrients and has several health benefits. Bamboo shoots are low in calories and high in fiber, making them an excellent choice for weight management. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are essential for maintaining good health.
6. Lukter - The Flavorful Curry
Lukter is a traditional Arunachalee curry made with a variety of vegetables and meat. It is a spicy and flavorful dish that is often served with rice or noodles. Lukter is a must-try for anyone who loves spicy food.
The dish is prepared by simmering pork or beef with a mix of spices and herbs such as ginger, garlic, onion, and coriander. The key ingredient that gives Lukter its distinct flavor is the fermented cheese that is made from cow or yak milk. This cheese, also known as chhurpi or duruk, is grated and added to the curry, giving it a tangy and slightly sour taste.
The curry is slow-cooked for several hours until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. The result is a flavorful and aromatic dish that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The aroma of the Lukter curry is so enticing that it is said to make one’s mouth water from a distance.
7. Pasa - The Classic Fish Curry
Pasa is a traditional dish of Arunachal Pradesh that is loved by locals and visitors alike. It is a delectable soup that is packed with flavors and nutrients.
To make Pasa, the main ingredient is fish, which is cooked with a variety of local herbs and spices. The soup is simmered to allow the flavors to meld together and create a delicious and hearty broth. The fish used in Pasa is usually freshwater fish that is caught locally in the rivers and streams of Arunachal Pradesh.
Pasa is known for its unique flavor that comes from the use of a variety of aromatic herbs and spices. The soup is typically made with ginger, garlic, and green chilies, which give it a subtle spiciness that is not overpowering. Other herbs that are commonly used in Pasa include coriander, cumin, and turmeric, which add depth and complexity to the flavor.
8. Chura Sabji - The Light and Healthy Dish
Chura Sabji is a popular dish among the local tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a light and healthy dish that is perfect for those who want to try something different.
The main ingredient in Chura Sabji is flattened rice, also known as poha, which is a common breakfast food in India. The flattened rice is first soaked in water and then drained before being cooked with vegetables and spices. The vegetables used in the dish may vary depending on availability and personal preference but commonly include onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and green chilies.
To prepare the dish, the vegetables are sautéed in oil along with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and curry leaves until they are cooked through. The soaked flattened rice is then added to the mixture and stirred together with the vegetables and spices. The dish is typically seasoned with salt, turmeric, and red chili powder to add flavor and spice.
9. Gyapa Khazi - The Spicy Meat Dish
Gyapa Khazi is a traditional Arunachalee dish made with dried yak meat. It is a spicy and flavorful dish that is often served with rice or noodles. If you love meat dishes, Gyapa Khazi is a must-try.
Gyapa Khazi is traditionally made using smoked pork, although other meats such as chicken, beef, or fish can also be used. The meat is first smoked over a wood fire, which imparts a rich smoky flavor to it. The meat is then cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked in a stew with a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, and leafy greens. The vegetables are cooked until they are soft and the flavors have melded together to create a delicious and hearty dish.
One of the key ingredients in Gyapa Khazi is the use of fermented bamboo shoots. These are a staple in the cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh and are used in many traditional dishes.
10. Poora Haah - The Smoked Chicken Delight
Poora Haah is a dish that has been an integral part of the cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh for generations. The dish is prepared using tender duck meat, which is cooked with a blend of traditional herbs and spices. The dish is typically served with steamed rice, which complements the rich flavors of the meat perfectly.
To prepare Poora Haah, the duck meat is first marinated with a blend of spices and herbs, including ginger, garlic, onion, and coriander. The marinated meat is then cooked in a large pot or pan, along with tomatoes and potatoes, until the meat is tender and juicy.
The traditional dishes of Arunachal Pradesh are a reflection of the state’s rich cultural heritage. It is a culinary paradise that offers a wide range of traditional dishes that are both delicious and unique. So, if you are a food lover, do not miss out on the opportunity to savor the flavors of Arunachal Pradesh.