Cultivated land in Meghalaya

Mei-Ramew cafes: Organic kitchens of Meghalaya

Author: TourGenie
Date: 2022-10-26

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Mei ramew in the Khasi language means ‘Mother Earth.’ The mei-ramew cafés of Meghalaya are an ode to Mother Earth, believing that it needs to be protected for providing nourishment. Hence, mei-ramew cafés were started with the intent to reconnect with nature and promote indigenous food, especially among the younger generation who are slowly starting to lose touch with their roots. 

The first mei-ramew café opened in Mupyut village of West Jañtia hills district. Mupyut village falls on the Jowai-Dawki route and is en route to Krangshuri waterfall. Now there are 2 such cafes run by two local women—Ms. Plantina Mujai and Ms. Dial Muktieh. If you ever get a chance to visit their mother earth cafes, be prepared to relish traditional Bhoi-Khasi cuisine that you might not find at any city restaurants. The mushroom rice is definitely worth a try. 

Granny’s Recipes Take Innovative Twists

Mei-ramew cafés are a community-owned food enterprise promoted by the North East Slow Food & Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), which encourages innovation in local recipes with maximum use of locally available ingredients. Hence, the owners of mei-ramew cafés are doing more than just following the recipes their grandmothers passed on to them; they are innovating new ones to cater to customers’ preferences. 

Many traditional food plants (both wild and cultivated) such as soh shang (wild olive) and jajew (Roselle leaf) are being incorporated into more understandable and universal dishes such as icecreams, which sounds far-fetched but interesting, to say the least. Wild edibles are the main ingredients of the Bhoi-Khasi cuisine, and Plantina and Dial gather them from the home gardens, paddy fields, and forest. Cooked originally with ktung (dry fish), they are now being served with pork and taro. 

Soh shang (wild olive)

Soh shang (wild olive)

Preservation at its Core

The mei-ramew cafés are sources of knowledge about wild edibles and indigenous crops, which highlighted on a large scale, helps raise awareness, and in return, helps locals conserve biodiversity. Mei-ramew cafés invariably become support systems for farmers, creating a market for local products not available in the mainstream market. 

Other Initiatives

NESFAS holds the monthly Mei-Ramew Farmers’ Market in Shillong with an aim to promote and generate awareness of Indigenous Food Systems. 

The Mei-Ramew Food Festival is a 2-day annual festival held in Mawphlang. It brings together communities from all over northeast India to showcase their food culture and indigenous cuisines. The festival highlights old traditional cuisines with hopes of piquing and sustaining the interest of the new generations. 

Food is a universal experience and one that connects people instantly. To truly travel and engage with different cultures is to experience the very basic lifestyle of the inhabitants that are ingrained in century-old practices. So if you’re looking for an immersive experience in Meghalaya, make sure to seek out a mei-ramew café and help support local efforts.  

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