by Akanksha Kakati.
Chakhwi. Photo Credit: skymetweather.com
Tripura or the ‘queen of the hills’ as it’s called proudly boasts of the evergreen forests on its rolling hills, its diverse vegetation and wildlife and the sandy beaches on the shores of the several rivers that originate here. Although the landlocked state is the third smallest state in India, it has been home to many Hindu Bengalis who migrated there from Bangladesh during the partition of India. The state’s geographical isolation has been a disadvantage and it has suffered a lot of turmoil in the past because of it. Currently, Tripura is a peaceful state with tourism on a rise.
Traditional Tripuri food tenderly referred to as ‘Mui Borok’ by the locals consists of Berma (fermented and dried Puti fish), Chakhwi (a group of curries made with soda), Muitru (a group of dishes cooked with Berma, bamboo shoots, chilli and garlic) and Mwkhwi (a group of curries made with sour fruits and sugar). The different types of Chakhwi are Chakhwtwi kwthwng, Chakhwtwi kumun, Chatang and Champrai. There are different methods of cooking Muitru namely Ik (shallow fried), Hang (roasted), Bwtwi (soup), Ser (deep fried), Mur, Sok (burnt on a flame), Aloni, Ruk (boiled), Yohk (spicy) and Pehng. There is also a variety in Mwkhwi with a few of them being Thaihchuk mwkhwtwi, Thaihstem mwkhwtwi, Thaihchumu mwkhwi, Thentrwi mwkhwi, Thaiplo mwkhwi, Thaihtwi mwkhwi, Belphui mwkhwi, Dorompai mwkhwi, Jambi mwkhwi, Daskuiya mwkhwtwi and Yasrem mwkhwi.
Berma Chutney. Photo Credit: tripuraonline.in
A typical meal comprises of rice, meat, vegetables and chutney made from Berma. The diet is mainly non-vegetarian with fish being a chief favourite. However, those who follow Vaishnavism, choose to stick to a vegetarian diet. Bamboo shoots play a significant role in seasoning the food, which is cooked with very little oil and spices. Gudok, a mouth watering Tripuri dish is cooked in bamboo tubes, giving it a distinct aroma. Chuak and Apong are fermented rice and millet beers hand crafted here and people often indulge in it at occasions and ceremonies.
Chuak. Photo Credit: travelwhistle.com
Many external influences can be seen in the diet such as Chatang, which is also found in Beijing and Tianjin cuisine. As many Bengalis settled down in Tripura after partition, Bengali cuisine too is very popular here. Various elements of Bengali literature and music are widely cherished in the towns and cities.
Sticking to the theme North East of using simple and organic ingredients, the food is prepared cooked and served using natural elements such as bamboo shoots, banana leaves and locally crafted earthen pots and pans.