India is rich and varied in a culture not just for our school pledges. Our diverse culture is evident in every nook and corner of our country.
Food plays a pivotal role in any culture. The aroma, taste and the way the food is served tell a lot about the culture and people of a place.
The North-Eastern region of India is still considered the less explored region of our country. We don’t know much about the people, language, and culture. This region has more than its exotic and beautiful holiday destinations. This article attempts to explore the famous dishes of Mizoram, one of the seven sisters in the North Eastern region of our country.
Mizoram- The Land of the Hills
Mizoram is an Indian state lying in the North-Eastern region. It translates to the “Land of the Hill” for its extraordinary location in the mountains. It is one of the sisters amongst the seven sisters states of our country. The state of Mizoram is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, south of the Tibetan autonomous region. The flood plains of Bangladesh are situated to the south of Mizoram.
The state’s capital is Aizawl, the only city in the state. The state has a majority of the Christian population, which is a major factor of influence in the Mizo cuisine. The state is listed as a tribal state under the Indian Government.
Kukis are said to be the first tribal group who inhabited this Land of the hills, although their origins are unknown. They’ve built a binding food culture from different parts of East Asia. Let’s get our taste buds ready to know about the famous dishes in Mizoram.
The Delicious Mizo Cuisine
The cuisine of Mizoram has some similar characteristics with other regions of Northeast India. Rice is their staple food. The food tends to be a unique mixture of North Indian and Chinese elements. There are ancient culinary links from far East Asian nations such as Korea and Japan as well.
Mizoram cuisine uses a lot of Non-Vegetarian ingredients like chicken, pork, shrimp, and fish. They usually cook in mustard oil. Meat cooked and served traditionally is blander, with less oil and spices.
A lot of steamed vegetables or boiled vegetables are used as a side for their traditional food. They also use a lot of bamboo in the preparations, which is a culinary link form the Chinese.
The food is served on banana leaves as part of their tradition. It is interesting to note the similarity of this tradition with the southern states of India.
Curry is an alien concept here, unlike the rest of India. They prefer dry gravies and majorly use the local harvest. They use very fewer spices, which is the culinary link with the rest of India.
It is interesting to note that the people of Mizoram have two main meals- A late breakfast and an early dinner before sundown.
Here are the famous mouth-watering and extremely aromatic food of Mizoram:
Bai is a soupy stew kind of dish served with rice and veggies. It is traditionally served as a side dish with steamed or sticky rice. The non-vegetarian version is cooked with pork, whereas the vegetarian version is made with the flowers of an indigenous plant called Lengser or the Mizo lomba.
Cauliflower stalk is also used as the main ingredient in another version of this dish. It has a sharp citrusy flavor, and an exotic variety of pepper called the Chinguit, a close relative of Sichuan pepper is used.
It is one of the easily available dishes and one of the famous dishes of Mizoram. It can be eaten hot or cold.
2. Vawska Rep
Vawska Rep is a traditional pork dish flavored with local herbs. The pork is smoked and stir-fried. The pork is cut into intricate cubes, cooked soft, and just right for the taste buds.
It has a bland taste and is a widely loved dish by meat lovers. It is served with roasted baby spinach and oyster mushrooms in mustard oil, alongside sticky or steamy rice.
It is one of the delectable and unique delicacies among the famous foods of Mizoram.
3. Chhum Han
Chhum Han is a popular vegetarian dish from the state of Mizoram. The basic ingredient of this dish is steamed vegetables. The vegetables are first steamed and tossed with a little bit of ginger.
Chhum Han tastes best when paired with rice. It is highly nutritious with steamed vegetables lie broccoli, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, and ginger.
It is a healthy treat for those fitness freaks and those who are conscious about what goes inside their stomachs. This dish, when cooked, special care is taken not to overcook the vegetables.
You can find this healthy dish in almost all restaurants in Mizoram.
4. Misa Mach Poora
Misa Mach Poora is a mouth-watering side dish invented by the people of Mizoram. It is a non-vegetarian dish where shrimp is the main ingredient.
The shrimp are grilled and cooked in mustard oil. Other ingredients are peppercorns, coriander powder, pepper powder, and a dash of lime juice to give it a tangy flavor.
Sometimes, orange zest and other assorted spices are also used to add up the flavor. It is served as an appetizer or a side dish to steamed or/and sticky rice.
It tastes best when served hot with rice and is one of the loved dishes for the people of Mizoram. Hence, it is one of the famous foods of Mizoram.
5. Koat Pitha
Although there are a lot of exotic dishes in Mizo cuisine, there are very fewer desserts in this cuisine. Koat Pitha is a very famous Mizo dessert. It is a fried fritter sweet made out of rice flour, jaggery, and bananas.
The bananas give the naturally sweet taste to this dish. It has crisp exteriors formed because of the rice flour with melt-in-the-mouth interiors. Some people add fish to these fritters as fish is one of the staple foods in Mizoram.
This dish is similar to the Unni Appams made in Kerala but with the addition of fish. It is an ideal evening snack paired with our Indian Chai or Zu, the Mizo Chai. This snack adds as one of the famous cuisines of Mizoram.
6. Bamboo Shoot Fry
Bamboo Shoot Fry is a go-to dish for vegetarians traveling to Mizoram. It is one of the famous dishes of Mizoram made out of bamboo stalks. This dish is fried bamboo tossed with herbs like ginger, garlic, pepper, and chilies. Onion is another major ingredient in this delicacy of Mizoram.
In some cases, Shitake mushrooms and other vegetables are added to this amazing delicacy. It is a light, and nutritious snack usually served on beautiful rainy evenings.
It perfectly pairs with chai and is loved by fitness lovers. Tourists love to try this exotic bamboo dish as it is a distinguished food from the North Eastern region of our country.
7. Panch Phoran Tarka
Panch Phoran Tarka is a mixed vegetable dish. The specialty is that it is seasoned with a special blend of five seeds. It is a trendy dish used as a side for steamed or sticky rice. It has vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants with variation only in the main ingredient.
The vegetarian version has brinjal, pumpkins, and potatoes. The non-vegetarian version has chicken as the main ingredient. This is one of the very few dishes of Mizoram, which is spiced well despite having milk as one of the ingredients.
This aromatic and flavourful sabji or tarkai is a spicy dry dish. The five seed blend used is made of fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and fennel seeds.
It is cooked with mustard oil, but ghee is used for tempering. The vegetarian variant is topped with coconut sauce to add to the thickness and flavor of the dish. It is used as an appetizer or a side dish with rice and poori.
Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants of Panch Phoran Tarka is enjoyed extensively by the people of Mizoram. It is also a wholesome and nutritious dish in itself close to any Indian sabji.
8. Arsa Burchiar or Sanpiau
Arsa Burchiar or Sanpiau is a popular dish in the traditional cuisine of Mizoram. It is made either with pork or chicken and served with sticky rice. It is a simple rice porridge dish.
All major spices such as ginger, garlic, onion, and chilies are used, but the taste is kept bland to meet the taste buds of people of Mizoram. Sanpiau is the pescetarian version which constitutes powdered rice and spices topped with fish sauce, whereas Arsa Burchiar is always served with chicken.
It is a traditional dish that is served on all special occasions of the state, which is also considered as the famous food of Mizoram.
9. Hmarcha Rawt
Hmarcha Rawt is the Mizo version of the North Indian green chili chutney. The chilies are finely roasted for making this delicious chutney. It is a thick, coarse, and chunky chutney which, when paired with rice, makes it lip-smackingly good.
It pairs great with parathas and even cheelas. It is served with chicken curry, steamed or sticky rice traditionally in a banana leaf.
The spices and chilies are usually ground with a pestle and mortar for achieving the right taste that is preserved traditionally.
10. Fruits and Traditional Beverages
Orchard of lemon, passion fruit, pineapple, and papaya can be seen throughout Mizoram. These fruits are eaten as desserts after their meals.
The traditional chai and beer of Mizoram are called with the same name, “Zu.” The beer “Zu” is made with fermented rice, millet, or maize. There are three grades for this beer, namely, Rakzu, Zufang, and Zupui. Different indigenous groups brew it for different occasions.
An interesting fact is that this beer is always enjoyed with an aspect of dance.
Zawlaida grape wine is the traditional wine of Mizoram, which has a bubbly taste. It is economically important for this formerly dry state because 80% of the city of Hnahlan is employed in the preparation of this exotic wine.
The famous dishes of Mizoram are already increasing our hunger pangs. Mizoram’s cuisine defines its varied and unique culture from the rest of India as well as the world. It is said that delicious food is the way to a person’s heart. Mizoram’s food culture paves the way to our hearts, leaving a lasting taste along our food pipes.
Related link: https://www.icytales.com/indians-foodie/
Share the Mizo delicacy that you wanted to try in the comments below.
-Edited by Steffy Michael|22/6/22