Forest foraging: 10 wild edibles found in Sikkim

Author: Pema Yankee bhutia
Date: 2021-03-06

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People say there are lots of free gifts of Mother Nature, the bounties of which are known to few and enjoyed by many. So hello and welcome to Sikkim: a place of natural beauty, splendid landscape, and a place of rich culture and tradition. In this article, we’ll be looking at wild edibles found in the forests of Sikkim, some bitter and some sweet. There are lots and lots of wild edibles found in Sikkim’s forest that are completely edible and have loads of natural medicinal properties, something that lacks in today’s farm products. They are also much tastier compared to market vegetables and fruits. Read on to know more about Sikkim’s wild edibles, and don’t forget to leave a comment below to let me know which ones you’ve tasted and like the most.

10 wild edibles found in Sikkim

1. Sisnu (nettle)

If you’ve ever been stung by sishnu, then you must have experienced itchy, red swollen skin and intense pain. Can you imagine eating it? Well, in Sikkim, sishnu is a popular food item. They are best eaten when tender, so it is picked in the spring season. 

Sisnu (stinging nettle)

Sisnu (stinging nettle)

How to cook: Usually, sishnu leaves are cooked as a soup with some dried beef. My mom makes it with dried beef and lots of garlic and some flour. She boils it with all the ingredients till it gets cooked properly. It tastes the best with rice and pickle.

Blog post: Fiddle-minded to taste the food of Sikkim

2. Ningro (fiddleheads)

Ningro is traditionally eaten throughout the state especially in local villages. It has a long stem with a twisted and round head. It has a muddy flavour when consumed half cooked. It is widely found during the monsoon season, ie, during June and July.

Ningro (fiddleheads)

Ningro (fiddleheads)

How to cook: It can be simply fried with some onions and garlic or can be cooked with other vegetables. At our home, we cook it with potatoes and serve it with some rice and daal.

Blog post: Fiddle-minded to taste the food of Sikkim

3. Nakima

Nakima is an interesting flowering plant and is eaten in Sikkim as a spicy vegetable. It is a little bitter in taste so it is boiled before cooking or sometimes soaked in salt to remove the bitterness. It is widely found during the months of September to early November. 



How to cook: The locals here make pickle out of it or it can be cooked with some spices along with some meat.

Blog post: A bitter-sweet experience called nakima

4. Mushrooms

You can find a large number of mushroom species in Sikkim. They are well known to the people of Sikkim as “Kaloongae cheaoe,” “Chiplae cheaoe,” “Kotuchae cheaoe,” Chamrae cheaoe,” “Konnae cheaoe,” “Jharae cheaoe,” “Tuktuke cheaoe,” and “Giddae cheaoe.” 

How to cook: At my home, we boil the mushrooms before cooking them and then fry them with other vegetables. My father likes it best when grilled and fried with just garlic.

5. Khekea (blueberries)

There are lots of berries that are found in the world but here in my village of Lachung you can find small blueberries that are sour in taste. These are used to make wine and pickles. However, if it is kept to ripen, it can taste sweeter. It is known as “khekea” in our local language.

Khekea (blueberry)

Khekea (blueberry)

6. Chalum (wild strawberries)

Relatively smaller than the usual strawberries, they appear during spring in cold places in Sikkim. They are very sweet and found in abundance under apple trees. They are called “chalum” in our local language.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

Some of my mom’s experiments with these tiny wild strawberries include turning them into jam, making strawberry milkshakes, and using dried strawberries in home-made cakes. 

7. Taripo

Not known to many, taripo is a small, round wild edible that grows on tall trees and is very sour in taste. It is one of the special ingredients used in wine-making. 

8. Wild kiwi

They and not found everywhere in Sikkim, but in my village, we are quite familiar with their small shape and sweet taste. It looks exactly like a regular kiwi but its size is a little smaller than the usual ones. Our locals believe that maybe it is because of the cold temperature, which does not appreciate some of the fruits that grow here.

9. Bamboo shoot

The young tender shoots of several bamboos are eaten as delicious vegetables. These young shoots, locally known as “tusa” are also made into pickles by the people of Sikkim.