by Akanksha Kakati.
Thukpa. Photo credit: nelive.in
Arunachal Pradesh is the first place in India to see the sun rise. Hence, the name Arun (meaning sun) and Anchal (meaning rise). There are 26 major tribes and 100 sub tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, and each tribe has its own distinctiveness in their food. Food is an important element in all festivities and a central part of the culture.
The diet revolves around rice, maize, millet and potatoes since these are the agricultural produce of the state. The main food is rice, which is accompanied by meat and green vegetables. Fish is consumed only occasionally due to its scarce availability. Chicken, mutton, pork and Mithun (Bos frontalis) are consumed throughout the state. Some tribes do not eat beef while it is considered a delicacy among other tribes. The food here is one of the freshest, most natural and nutritious you will ever eat.
Rice is prepared in two ways here, namely Dung Po and Kholam. Dung Po method involves covering the rice in leaves and steaming it in a double boiler. The rice is served as is wrapped in leaves. For the Kholam method the rice is cooked in the hollow of a bamboo shoot over coals. This technique is similar to the Assamese way of cooking Sungha rice.
Lettuce is a popular vegetable and lettuce soup is a chief favourite. Lettuce soup is cooked using chillies, coriander and ginger. Chillies and bamboo shoot are often used to add flavour to the dishes. Lukter is a delicacy food (a form of jerky) made with dried meat and chilly flakes. The Adi tribe in particular is fond of smoked meats and one can always find meat hanging above their kitchen fireplaces for drying and smoking. Thukpa is a signature dish of the state and is a delicious noodle soup prepared with a variety of meats and vegetables.
Chinese food is quite well liked among the a few tribes, with a preference for momos.
Apong or Opo (rice beer) and Marua (millet beer) are the traditional alcoholic drinks and enjoyed among most tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Apong is made by fermenting rice with yeast. It is left undisturbed in a corner of the kitchen for a few days and then distilled.
Harvest time is full of celebrations for all tribes where they sing and dance and offer prayers to their various deities. Festivals in Arunachal are always a time for families to come together to eat good food and rejoice.