Expect an explosion of colour, sound, and flavour when you’re visiting northeast India. Nothing is ordinary here; from religious practices to food and wildlife, you will be shocked, repelled, curious, surprised, awed, and impressed all at the same time.
One of the most intriguing things for any traveller to this part of India is undoubtedly the food. While most prominent restaurants have tweaked their menu to cater to the general palate of the tourist, it’s the local eateries and homestays that have stayed true to the local flavours and ingredients. The best way to expose yourself to local ingredients is to visit the local vegetable and organic markets (it’s rather helpful to have a local friend around for explanation).
Let’s take a look at some rather bizarre dishes eaten across Northeast India that are not for the faint-hearted.
(1) Wachipa− Sikkim
The presence of Nepalis, Bhutias, and Lepchas, among other communities, has lent an interesting flavour profile to Sikkimese cuisine. While there are many ingredients that are unknown, a bizarre dish we encountered is a dish of the Rai tribe called wachipa that is only made during special occasions. The dish comprises a mix of rice, minced chicken, and the star ingredient a powder made of burnt chicken feathers, which lends it a bitter taste. In the vegetarian version, chicken is replaced with the flowers of a plant called damlapa, which is also bitter in taste.
(2) Frog legs− Sikkim
Frog's legs are popular in French and Chinese cuisine but they are not alien to Indians. Goa and Sikkim are the 2 places that have turned it into a delicacy. The Lepcha community of Sikkim partakes of it because they believe that it cures stomach ailments.
Food of Sikkim
(3) Eri Polu− Assam
Assam is known for its highly valued eri silk sarees. Once the silk is extracted from the silkworms, the silk pupa that’s left behind is then used to make an exotic dish called eri polu. A speciality of the Garo tribe, silkworm pupa is cooked and flavoured with traditional herbs and spices and served with fermented bamboo shoots.
Food of Assam
(4) Jadoh Snam− Meghalaya