North eastern India is a cluster of some of the most picturesque and beautiful states of India, having an unimaginable diversity in flora and fauna, culture and traditions, and above all, the food. While Manipur is known for its seasonal stews, Meghalaya is popular for its spicy meat and fish preparations. Nagaland is known for its bamboo and pork items, Mizoram has the subtly flavoured, boiled food rather than fried foods. The cuisine of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh is highly influenced by our neighbours – Nepal, China and Myanmar, even Thailand. Tripura is known for its bursting masalas. Assamese food has a wide variety in itself with its delicious Kazi Nemus and rice, to pork dishes, dish dishes, etc.
Here are some of the most popular street food dishes from the North East that are a must try when you visit –
1. Laksa from Assam
Laksa has its origin in Malaysia. It is a spicy noodle soup made with a blend of coconut milk, tamarind, flavoured fish paste and spices. The broth has rice vermicelli immersed in it, making it a healthy, tasty and nutritious meal. Various Assamese streets have slightly different versions of it available to nourish hungry people, and it is a must try dish when in Assam.
2. Alu Muri from Meghalaya
This mouth watering mix of boiled potatoes, puffed rice, papaya skin, oil, roasted spices and tamarind sauce. This recipe is best suited for the Indian palate. People not very used to spicy foods might want to request a milder version to be prepared for them. It is a hot favourite snack of the locals. Alu muri stalls can be found on every nook and corner of Shillong and other placed in the Indian state of Meghalaya.
3. Thenthuk from Arunachal Pradesh
A hand pulled noodle soup made from meat stock, local hill vegetables and freshly made hand pulled noodles, the thenthuk from Arunachal Pradesh is quite similar to its neighbouring cousin – Thukpa from Tibet. The difference is Thukpa is made from flat noodles, while thenthuk uses hand pulled or bite sized pieces of flat noodles. Thenthuk is a traditional winter recipe to keep warm in the freezing winters of Arunachal Pradesh.
4. Chikhvi from Tripura
Bamboo shoots and sliced pork are stir fried together to prepare this fragrant dish from Tripura, with a balance of smokiness and lusciousness. Other ingredients of this delicious recipe include jack fruit seed, green papaya, green chillies, ginger paste, turmeric powder, rice flour paste and fresh lime leaves. The bamboo shoots and pork are succulent and beautifully spiced in this irresistible street food.
5. Smoked Pork Stir Fry from Nagaland
This dish is somewhat more exotic than most other dishes, but definitely not to be missed. Across Nagaland one could find many versions of this dish. The trademark of this lip smacking dish is the super spicy Raja Mirchi or Bhut Jolokia (ghost chilli). Fermented soy beans (akhuni), fermented yam leaves (anishi) or bamboo shoots enhances the taste of this dish manifold. It is also brings out the smokey flavors of this dish.
6. Sanpiau from Mizoram
A popular Mizo street food, Sanpiau is a rice porridge served with fresh coriander paste, crushed black pepper, zesty fish sauce and finely powdered rice, and then topped with pan sizzled spring onions. The intoxicating aroma of this dish can be experienced from a long distance away. It is a spicy, tasty and simple dish, definitely a Mizo classic.
7. Kelli Chana from Manipur
A spicy chickpea snack spiced with delicious herbs, kelli chana is commonly served on lotus leaves, and the aroma of this leaf contributes to the overall flavor of the dish. There goes a story that this dish got its name from an old lady – Kelli who used to sell this snakc under a tree in Manipur. The recipe soon became very popular and is now a classic Manipuri street food.
8. Shapale from Sikkim
Shapale is a dish very similar to momos and samosas, two other popular street food dishes. Shapale is usually a meat pie with a crunchy doughy exterior and a gooey interior filled with minced chicken/meat, onions, spices, etc. A touch of fiery hot chilli sauce is added to this savoury pie and pair it with rutang soup (soup made from bony meats) for a truly delectable street food experience.
9. Kappa from Meghalaya
Kappa is a dish prepared from chicken entrails with cooking soda and fresh garden spices. This snack is a perfect complement to the damp climate of Meghalaya. This dish is immensely popular among the tourists and locals alike and people can be found looking for it and relishing it all over the state.
10. Iromba from Manipur
Iromba is in essence a simple dish, but it is abundant in flavors. This dish is made using fermented fish, mashed potatoes, fresh green leaves and blazing red chillies. The dish has a very strong and pungent taste, and is considered to be the lifeline of Manipuri cuisine. This is a common side dish with the evening snacks in Manipur.