My Personal Guide to Arunachal Pradesh Cuisine
Arunachal Pradesh is one of those states unexplored by the majority, but those who discover this place inevitably fall in love with it. It is as beautiful as it is peaceful, as friendly as it is warm and as welcoming as it is serene. Not only is the state picturesque, but it is full of hidden gems in terms of food, culture, and heritage that very few people get the chance to experience. Arunachali cuisine is something you have to experience locally to fully understand its authentic taste.
My visit to Arunachal Pradesh was only because my uncle was working there and staying with his family. His wife was pregnant and my mother had to go there to take care of her in the remote village where my uncle was posted. Of course, I traveled with her and that’s when I was exposed to the wonder that is Arunachali cuisine. And believe me, high-end restaurants serving authentic Arunachal cuisine at overpriced rates are far from the correct representation of the state’s food deity. So let me tell you 5 of my favorite dishes that I ate regularly during my 3 month long stay in the beautiful state.
pika pila – For the child that I was, the main reason I was drawn to the dish was clearly its unique name. It was close to one of the most famous catchphrases of a popular cartoon from my childhood and I was determined to try this dish called pika-pila. It is a famous pickle which is mainly made by the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. It is one of the most commonly eaten food accompaniments in the state. This pickle is made from bamboo shoots and pork fat with a moderate addition of King Chilly. It’s a perfectly balanced condiment, tangy, but not to the point of making you nauseous.
Pehak – I’ve always been a spice lover and everything I eat and love to eat is directly governed by heat. So the first as well as the second dish on my list has King Chilly as one of its main ingredients. Pehak is again a side dish made from King Chilly and fermented soybeans. It is eaten with steamed rice.
rice and lukter – One common thing between Arunachalis and me, a Bengali, is the fact that both parties have this undying love for non-veg food. Lukter is nothing but smoked meat. Thin slices of meat are smoked over charcoal and eaten with steamed rice. It’s a great combination and it made up many of my lunches during my stay in Arunachal Pradesh.
chura sabji – One of the most unique dishes I tasted in Arunachal, thanks to my uncle Tashi’s housekeeper didi, was chura sabji, made with fermented yak cheese. It’s a dish that took me a while to get used to, but once I got used to the taste, I found myself asking Tashi didi very often to bring me chura sabji.
koat pitha – Although I am definitely not a foodie person, koat pitha was definitely something I often craved in my busy city life. It is a sweet dish made with jaggery, banana, flour and mustard oil. This is the dessert that I would totally cheat my diet for.
So, if you are planning to visit Arunachal Pradesh, don’t forget to try these amazing dishes. And if traveling to this beautiful state isn’t on your to-do list yet, add it as soon as possible to explore the state and the food. It will be worth every second and every penny.