Known for its culinary delights, involving little use of oil and various aromatic herbs, Manipuri Cuisine is a powerhouse of flavours. Rice, fish, fresh seasonal vegetables etc. are some of the integral elements of the Manipuri diet, making it a very healthy way of life. Homecook Soroma Mayengbam, lists some authentic lip-smacking delicacies from the region which should not be missed.
Soroma Mayengbam who hails from Imphal, is currently a resident of Singapore and loves cooking in her spare time. She shares, “Majority of the Manipuri dishes are very healthy, as we tend to use no oil or very little oil in most of the dishes, without compromising the taste. It is packed with flavour from the use of many herbs, which could be regarded as the backbone of Manipuri dishes. Even though I love experimenting with new ideas and dishes, at the end of the day, I always fall back on the Manipuri dishes. They give me comfort and a sense of being in your own homeland, even if I am far away from my native land.”
In the picture: Soroma Mayengbam
Soroma Mayengbam lists some of the popular Manipuri delicacies from the region:
1)Eromba: Popular for its simple yet spicy flavours, Eromba is a dish which is prepared by boiling the vegetables and mashing it with chillies and ngari (fermented fish).
2) Laphutharo Paknam: Laphutharo paknam is a dish prepared with Laphutharo (banana flower/blossom)chives, ngari, chillies and besan. It is made into a very thick batter, wrapped in turmeric leaves and oven baked/baked on a flat pan on stove.
3) Nga Atoiba Thongba: Nga (fish) Atoiba Thongba is made by tempering the fish with a lot of herbs and roughly mashing it, which makes it a very flavourful dish.
4) Sana Thongba: Sana(paneer) thongba is a dish cooked by frying the paneer pieces first. It is tempered with chives and fresh milk is used for the gravy.
5)Usoi Kangsu: Kangsu (Kangsu is a dry and spicy side dish in a Manipuri meal which is prepared by boiling the vegetables, squeezing out out all the water and mashing it with chillies and ngari (fermented fish). While preparing Usoi Kangsu, Usoi( fresh bamboo shoot) is thinly sliced, soaked overnight and then boiled. Soaked dry peas is also boiled and dry roasted to remove the water. Then it is coarsely ground and all the water from the usoi is sqeezed out. It is then mixed with chillies, ngari and garnished with herbs and roasted and ground dried shrimp.
6) Ooti Asangba: It is a stew, prepared from taro leaves, rice, sponge gourd, pomegranate leaves etc. Cooking soda is one of the key ingredients in the preparation of ooti.
7) Singju: Singju is a type of salad, in which the ingredients used are mainly fresh and raw vegetables. They are thinly sliced and mixed with roasted besan, coarsely ground dry chillies and roasted and ground perilla seeds. In thambou (lotus root) singju, the main ingredient is the lotus root. Finely sliced cabbage, pea shoot and water dropwort are also used as ingredients of the singju. Ngari (roasted or steamed fermented fish) can also be used here.
8) Nga Ataoba Thongba: Nga(fish) ataoba(fried) thongba is prepared from fried fish tempered with a lot of herbs. The gravy is usually thin.
9) Soibum: Soibum (fermented bamboo shoot) and fried fish curry is a dish prepared from fermented bamboo shoot and fried fish.
10) Chak- Hao Kheer: Rich in antioxidants, Chak-Hao (Aromatic black rice) kheer is a popular sweet dish from Manipur, prepared from aromatic black rice cooked in milk and sugar.
11) Khamen Asinba Thoomna Thongba: This is an easy and quick Manipuri dessert , which is made by cooking tomatoes in a sugar syrup.
Photo Courtesy: Soroma Mayengbam