The last weekend, Saturday to be specific, had been a wonderful one for the foodie in me. Not that the previous one with all the Goan food and brew was any bad but when it comes to food from my home-state, actually the entire north-east India, nothing else can beat that. It so happened that I came to know about the North-east Food Festival taking place not far from my home. This got the foodie in me excited and I instantly decided to pay it a visit. The food-fest was supposed to begin at 3 in the afternoon and continue up-to 10 PM so I decided to go aramse (at leisure) which in the hindsight, turned out not to be a great idea.
I reached the location of the fest, the Holy Ghost Church at Richards Town at about 6 in the evening to find the place already crowded. I had expected it to be just a food-festival but once there, I realized it was much more than that. A stage which was all decked-up with colourful curtains has been raised in-front of the church and a handful of chairs arranged for people to sit.
Later when I saw girls and boys dressed in what seemed to be the uniform of a choir, I understood the reason behind the set-up. Soon enough, a group of playful girls came on to the stage and started to sing Christmas songs, led by the suited conductor of the group.
Once the group was done with its songs, another group of girls with their red furry Christmas hats and smiling faces replaced the choir group. They danced to sweet Christmas songs and also got the kids in-front of the stage to dance along. The nip in the air played catalyst and made the place feel all the more like it was already Christmas.
Lost in all the fun going around I totally forgot what had originally brought me here. Thankfully, the aroma of slow-cooked meat from one of the food-stalls there brought me back to my senses and I headed straight to the Tripura food-stall which was the most crowded. Somehow I pushed myself through the crowd only to find that they just served the last serving of their hottest selling item to a customer, a variety of fish fry. Disappointed, I headed to the next place that looked promising and was drawing a lot of crowd, the Naga food-stall.
Naga cuisine is famous for its pork dishes and that is what I was looking for. Seeing the long line leading to the stall however, I quickly realized that any wish to sample their mouth-watering smoked pork meant almost an hour’s wait. There were almost a 100 people in-front of me. I was not sure if there will be any of it left by the time my turn comes. It was already close to 8 PM and I did not want to try my luck here.
So I made my way to the Meghalaya food-stall which was comparatively less crowded. But here too, my luck almost ran out. I was the last one to be served their black-sesame pork with Jadoh and a fantastic chutney (probably of dry-fish). I grabbed by plate and sat in a corner of the crowded place. The food was fantastic and was very much authentic. The best part, it was warm.
Everybody was enjoying their favourite delicacies while having a good time with their friends and family. As more and more people poured in through the main gate, the lines in-front of the various food-stalls kept growing. The fest had stalls from almost all the north-eastern states and were selling their own specialities to the curious customers.
Once done with my Meghalayan food which was wonderful to say the least, I headed towards the Assamese food-stall. I wanted to have the fish curry cooked in mustard which is very famous and a delicacy which is enjoyed a lot in my home-state. Sadly again, by the time I made it to the stall this too was sold-out. All that was left with them was a few pieces of rasgullas (a dessert).
I peeped into the Manipuri-stall but nothing much interested me there. I would have loved to have a bottle of the famous (and very very spicy) Manipuri version of the dry-fish chutney but all they had was different types of curries. Chicken, Pork and beef. Had it not been a Manipuri stall, I for sure would have tried some of what was available. No I was not being a moron or something here by not eating from a Manipuri stall. My reason was very different and a pretty fiery one at that. Get the drift? No? 😉
Manipuri dishes, almost all of them are very very hot. They add a lot of the hottest of the chillies in the curries they make and then they add some more of it. The Manipuri food is tasty no-doubt but only for those who can handle it. For someone like me who hardly can eat even moderately spicy food (even though I want to) Manipuri cuisine is way too much. I have tried it a couple of times and sadly enough, could not handle it 🙁 .
There were couple of small souvenir shops as well next to the food-stalls but they had nothing much interesting in them. I did not wait for all the programs to get over which were going on at the stage, much to the joy of the cheerful crowd which never missed a chance to clap as soon as the music stopped.
Have you tried the delicacies of north-east India? Or is there any particular cuisine you really like? Don’t forget to leave me a comment below.