CUISINE | November 17, 2017
The cuisine of the Northeastern states of India is absolutely enthralling. The use of regional herbs, tangy spices and their unique process of cooking make tourists amazed. However, the regional beverages made in these states are no less enticing! In every state, you are likely to come across unique beverages-alcoholic and otherwise. Your exploration of North Eastern cuisine will remain incomplete unless you taste these beverages, at least once.
Each state of the North East has its own variations of Rice beer but the taste and flavor of Yu is mind blowing. The Yu, made in Sekhmai town of Manipur is much sought after owing to its flavor. It has even drawn comparison with Japanese Sake. Distilled from special type of fermented rice it has low alcohol quotient. Despite some government bans on sale, it is available in the town in evening.
Tongba/ Chhang (Sikkim)
The Channg or Tongba is a popular drink in Sikkim. It is made using whole grain millet which is cooked and then fermented. It is also dried for a long time before the beverage can be prepared. The fermented mallet is stored in a bamboo tumbler and then boiled water is added in it. Using bamboo straw, you can sip the drink. No social occasion in Sikkim is complete without its consumption. It is also called the ‘Hot Beer’. The alcohol quotient is below 10 percent in it.
Naga people are fond of using rice in their cuisine alongside various types of meat and they also make beverage using rice. In Nagaland- you will find mainly 3 types of rice beer, namely- Dzutse, Ruhi and Zutho. Of the trio- Zutho is possibly the most popular. The taste is somewhat sour and the beverage also has a fruity aroma. Different Naga tribes prepare the fermented rice beer a little differently than others but the taste never fails to amaze. It is served in bamboo made glasses.
If you have penchant for fruit based beverages, Zawlaidi- found in Mizoram will fit your bill the best. Made with Mizoram grapes-this is a local wine. Zawlaidi costs much less than other wines sold in the state. The alcohol percent stands at 11 to 14 percent. Usage of oak wood in the grape brewing reduces sourness and improves the flavor of the wine.
This is one type of Whiskey made in Tripura. It is used with plenty of raw materials including rice, jackfruit and pineapple. Local ingredients like Tokhiseleng leaves and Thakotor leaves are also used to make it. It is more like a distilled variant of alcohol.
As you explore the beautiful and picturesque regions in Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya- you are bound to notice the locals sipping a regional beverage. It is Kiad- Meghalaya’s own take on rice beer! Served in bamboo tumbler, the locals use a piece of charcoal to ensure the tart, sweet drink has the desired balance of alcohol. The amount of distillation varies from one region to another.
Lao Paani (Assam)
Assamese tribes make a wide range of alcoholic beverages. However, the popularity of Lao Paani-a type of rice beer, is undeniable. This indigenously prepared drink is made with subtle variations in many regions of the hilly state. Rice is soaked into water to turn into beer. The tribes also use regional herbs and varieties of banana to add flavor to the beverage.