Traditional Food of Manipur, Simple, Healthy and Nutritious


Traditional Food of Manipur-01
Tan NgangWikimedia

One of the seven sisters of North-East India is Manipur, also known as the “Jewelled land.” It is blessed with utmost beauty and its sprawling tea gardens. The cuisine of Manipur is represented by the traditional cuisine of the Meiteis, an ethnic majority in in culture of Manipur. It is also heavily influenced by the neighbouring states of Assam and Nagaland. The food of Manipur is known for its use of herbs and spices and its combination of flavours from different ethnic groups. Fish is the most commonly used ingredient and is a staple in their diet. Manipuri cuisine also heavily uses bamboo shoots, fish and meat. The Manipuri cuisine and dishes are extremely healthy and nutritious and are generally very simple and based on rice and fish. Ngari is a very popular fermented fish in Manipur which is used in most of their preparations. Let’s take a look at some of the authentic dishes from the traditional food of Manipur.    

1. Chamthong or Kangshoi

Image – K Theishim

Chamthong or Kangshoi is a healthy and exotic vegetable stew. It is an authentic common dish in Manipur. It is very nutritious as it contains a variety of seasonal vegetables, meat, dried fish or grilled fish pieces. The vegetables are boiled and cooked with a lot of spices like sliced onions, cloves, garlic, maroi, salt and ginger. It is topped with Ngari which is fermented fish or dried fish. The consistency of the dish is soupy and is supposed to be consumed when it is piping hot. The dish is often served and eaten with rice. 

2. Chak-hao Kheer 

Traditional Food of Manipur, Chak-hao Kheer 
Image – Facebook

Chak-hao Kheer is a traditional and famous desert of Manipur. It is cooked using forbidden black rice, milk, cardamom and sugar. The black rice is cooked in milk until it becomes soft and creamy and it is flavoured with cardamom and dry fruits such as almonds and raisins. It’s an authentic sweet rice pudding and is often served during festivals and special occasions. Some distinct features of Chak-hao kheer is the type of rice used in this dish. Chak-hao is a premium variety of rice which is grown in Manipur and is known for its nutty taste and health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, fibre and prevents the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. Another distinct feature of this dish is its pleasing shade of purple. 

3. Eromba

Traditional Food of Manipur, Eromba 
Image – Wikimedia

This popular and traditional dish of Manipur is for people who love fish. Eromba is a dish made of mashed boiled vegetables with a dry fermented version of a fish called Ngari, mixed with a lot of red chilies and other spices. All of these are mixed together until the texture and the consistency of the dish becomes paste-like. It is often served with steamed rice and garnished with Maroi and coriander leaves and is considered to be a staple food there. 

4. Singju

Traditional Food of Manipur, Singju
Image – Wikimedia

This is another extremely nutritious and healthy traditional dish of Manipur. Singju is a salad filled with a variety of vegetables which are chopped into very thin juliennes. This is often served as a spicy dish and is best as an afternoon or evening snack. The salad includes a mix of vegetables, herbs and spices and often includes ingredients such as bamboo shoots, chives, and fish or meat. Singju includes tomato, onions, cabbage, coriander leaves, ginger, lotus stems, raw papaya, banana flower, lotus root and the Singju leaves. These vegetables are then mixed with lightly toasted chickpea flour which is besan, sesame seeds, chilies, powder of perilla seeds and some herbs. It is typically served as a side dish and is known for its unique blend of flavours and its use of ingredients that are native to the region. Roasted Thoiding seeds are also added to Singju which gives it a nutty flavour and is very rich and healthy.  

5. Morok Metpa

Traditional Food of Manipur, Morok Metpa
Image – Wikimedia

Morok Metpa is a famous and traditional chutney of Manipur. The people of Manipur like to have it with all their meals. It can be both veg as well as non veg.  The chutney is prepared by taking dried green or red chilies, mostly green chilies and mashing them. Then mixing them and boiling them with Ngari fish. They are crushed and mashed again and then sprinkled with salt. For the vegetarians, it is made by frying red and green chilies with chives and chopped onions. This chutney is enjoyed with all meals as its two main ingredients include green chilies and Ngari.   

6. Paaknam

Traditional Food of Manipur, Paaknam
Image – Wikimedia

Paknam is very much like a pancake. It is a famous evening snack in Manipur. Paknam is a savoury cake prepared by mixing a thick batter of besan, herbs, vegetables, spices which includes a lot of chilies which helps in flavouring it and the famous and traditional Ngari, fermented fish. The batter is then wrapped in turmeric and banana leaf and steam cooked and baked in a pan and then roasted for some time. It is best to have as a snack with a cup of hot tea or coffee and is a delicacy enjoyed by the local people of Manipur.   

7. Alu Kangmet

Traditional Food of Manipur, Alu Kangmet
Image – Facebook

Alu Kangmet is a very simple dish yet one of people’s most favorite delicacies in Manipur. It is served as a side dish. It is none other than boiled potatoes mashed and served with a lot of different spices, salt and mustard oil. It is a spicy dish made with bamboo shoots. The bamboo shoots are boiled and then mixed with mashed potatoes and a variety of spices such as cumin, turmeric and chili powder. It is then cooked in mustard oil which gives the dish a distinct and robust flavor. The dish is also known for its nutritional value as it is a rich source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. It is often served with rice or a main dish. 

8. Nga-Thongba

Traditional Food of Manipur, Nga-Thongba
Image – Wikimedia

Nga-Thongba is a fish curry and is one of the most loved dishes in Manipur as fish is comfort food and a very common ingredient for the people of Manipur. The dish is included in most non-vegetarian meals. It is made with freshwater fish, onions, tomatoes, ginger and a variety of herbs and spices. It is typically served with steamed rice and is considered a staple food there. The fish is marinated in a mixture of turmeric, salt and other spices before being cooked. It is cut into bite-size pieces and mashed to a point. It is then cooked and flavoured with crushed pepper and other spices. 

By now, we know that the traditional food of Manipur is very healthy and nutritious and mostly includes rice, fish and a lot of spices and herbs. They like their dishes simple yet they have a lot of flavour in them. They like vegetables and spices and also use bamboo shoots. Fish is used a lot in their dishes and is an important part of their cuisine. Overall, the food of Manipur is still attached to its roots and is very authentic and traditional and the flavours are very different and unique, which is why one should definitely taste some of these dishes to experience the taste and cuisine of Manipur.                                                                                                                                                                

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