The people of Manipur loves to eat food cooks in different styles. In every gathering, whether it is of social or meeting up of old buddies people often organize feast to enjoy the moment or to increase the brotherhood bond. Since time immemorial we Manipuries have unique types of cooking from the rest of the country and still today you’ll find the taste and style of cooking in every household of Manipur.
How do you define a cuisine?
In simple words, cuisine is a specific type of cooking traditions and practices associated with a specific culture or regions. Since time immemorial we Manipuris also have distinct cooking styles and habit of eating. Rice is the staple food of Manipur. When you travel to any part of the world you’ll find varieties of food and cuisines that suits the people living in a particular place. When you travel to the Southern part of India you’ll find foods based on fermented rice like dosas and idli, in the Northern area roti, and chappatis with subzi (vegetables).
I love traveling and eat different types of food irrespective of time and places and whenever I got any chances I first eat the famous food of that particular place. If I’m not wrong, all people irrespective of ages love eating. Raise your hand if you’re one of them.
I still remember the day when I first landed at Kolkata for an en-route to hometown (Imphal) from Coimbatore accompanied by my friend. The year was 2009 and the weather of that day was gloomy despite Kolkata’s hot and humid climate. There was no direct connectivity from Coimbatore to Imphal and so I’d to take en-route to Kolkata and wait for the flight on the next day. Soon after we landed there, we collected our heavy luggage (as we visited home after a year) from the luggage belt and headed towards the exit. As you might have experienced the situation at every exit of the airport, you’ll find hundreds of cabs owner or driver waiting and hailing their hands as if they knew you before. They have got the rare talent to identify anyone whether they’re new to the place or a normal commuter.
So, we behave as if we’re frequent travelers and board a taxi towards a local hotel nearby. Kolkata is not only famous for the educational, cultural, and commercial hub but also for foods and different types of cuisines. Kosha Mangsho (Mutton Curry), Shorshe Ilish (Hilsa Fish Cooked in Mustard Gravy), Kolkata Biryanis, Beef Chateaubriand Steak, etc. are some of the famous food you must eat if you visit Kolkata.
Now time for eating
As soon as we reached our sleeping place, we started hunting for food as we’d traveled the whole day and we were really exhausted and the only way to energize ourselves is to find an eatery and eat until our stomach is burst. Fortunately, we were able to find a local restaurant and started searching for food on the menu. At the first sight, I noticed only briyani just like “love at first sight” and without wasting a single second we ordered two full plates of chicken dum biriyani. The environment that surrounds the interior of the restaurant also supports our appetite for food. After some time of ordering our food, the inside of the restaurant was filled with the aroma of the biryani and it further deteriorates our mood.
It was very hard for us to wait for the food to come as if we’re waiting for days. So, we started calling the waiter and enquired for the briyani whether it is ready or not. The waiter politely replied with a soft tone “Sir, aapka briyani next 5 minutes mein ready hoh jayega”. At least it was confirmed that we had to wait for another five minutes.
Plates full of briyani with boiled chicken, boiled potato, and whole leg piece even added the affinity of appetite. We suddenly stop talking and without looking at each other face for once, picked up a plate each and started eating briyani. At that moment we had even forgotten where we were until a stage is reached where we started feeling a little heavy. Taking a long breath, I asked my friend whether the briyani was tasty or not. But he was not ready to answer my silly question as he was busy eating. So, I thought that moment, why should I waste asking silly questions and continue concentrating on the Briyani.
That restaurant we ate, was also not an expensive one and only a simple and affordable eatery. However, the quality of the foods provided was mouth-watering and commendable and still linger on my tongue whenever someone talks anything about Kolkata. I remember Kolkata, not for the city center mall, trams, and ambassador taxi, but for the unforgettable Biriyani, we ate on that gloomy day.
I’ve wasted your time enough and now let’s head to the famous varieties of Manipuri cuisines.
Famous Traditional Manipuri Cuisines
Manipur has its own style of eating food, cooking and since time immemorial we’re following that same cooking style. Manipuri people loves to eat steam and boil food. Rice is the main food and there is a saying in Manipuri that “Tun tara charasu, chak khitang chadradi puk thande”. This means “a meal is incomplete without eating rice, even though you ate 10 rotis.” Like yogurt or Dahi is famous in other parts of the country, we Manipuri people loves to eat fermented foods. “Ngari” made from fermented fish, “Hawaijar” made from fermented soybeans are some of the famous fermented food you’ll find in every household of Manipur.
Ooti Thongba (One of the Famous Manipuri Cuisines)
Ingredients reqired to cook Ooti –
- Bay leaf
- Mustard Oil
- Soaked yellow peas
- Baking Soda
- Chilly powder or green chilly
Watch the video to know how to cook ooti.
Nga Atoiba Thongba (Types of Fish curry)
Nga Atoiba Thongba is one of the famous Manipuri cuisines and it is a much each non-vegetarian food in every feast especially in the Meitei or Meetei community. Fish are cut into cubes or small pieces and intentionally smash while cooking so the name is Nga atoiba thongba “smash fish curry”.