Manipur: cuisine

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Manipuri Cuisine

Manipuri cuisine is simple and healthy. Dishes are typically boiled, smoked or spicy foods that use chilli pepper. The staple diet of Manipur consists of rice, leafy vegetables, fish and meat. ‘Ngari’ or fermented fish is a popular ingredient in the dishes. ‘Umorok’ , an extremely hot chilli is another favourite ingredient among the people. The meals are simple but very well prepared. One has to taste them to believe it.

Manipur cusine

Mary Kom’s favourite foods

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, boxer, foodie

My earliest food experience

Rice with tender maize.

My favourite recipe

I love Manipuri cuisine. My favourite is nga atoiba thongba, which is a Manipuri style mashed fish curry.

My favourite cuisine

I love Chinese food.

I have a sweet tooth for

I don't really have a sweet tooth.

See also Mary Kom

Nga atoiba thongba

Mary Kom’s nga atoiba thongba

Nairita Mukherjee, TNN Nov 28, 2012

The Times of India 2012-11-28

Nga atoiba thongba

Nga atoiba thongba

Ingredients: Rohu: 750 gm, Onion:150 gm, Garlic: 20 gm, Ginger: 20 gm, Fresh green peas (shelled): 80 gm, Tomato - diced into cubes: 200 gm, Potato - diced into cubes:150 gm, Red chilli powder:10 gm, Coriander powder:15 gm, Cumin powder: 5 gm, Mustard oil (for cooking):150 ml, Turmeric powder:10 gm, Salt: To taste, Fresh coriander leaves

Method: Smear the fish with turmeric powder and keep aside. Grind onion, ginger and garlic and make a thick paste with the spices. Heat mustard oil in a pan. Put the onion-ginger-garlic paste in. Fry till the oil separates. Make sure to stir at regular intervals so that it doesn't burn. Put in the pieces of fish and mix well. Cook until the water released by the fish dries out. Now add peas, diced tomatoes, potatoes, water and salt. Cover and simmer until the potato is done. Mash the potato and fish with the back of the spatula (leave some un-mashed for a more interesting texture). Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves along with steamed rice.

(Recipe by Chutney, Bar + Tandoor, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa, New Delhi)


The authors of this section on Sinju are: Achintya, The Tripura Foundation 09/28/2010 <> Arzoo, Babina and Deepak on Mingudam<> Khonjel

Sinju is a green salad that the Manipuris savour as a delicacy.

Manipuris like Babina ‘strongly believe that the variety of greens (based on the seasons) and food variety available at Manipur can not be found anywhere. The same greens when exported to other parts of the world are highly respected. e.g. Au-morok which can be found only in the north-east of India is preserved and exported to Mexico from Manipur.’

Deepak informs us that ‘Yongchak is known as Tree Bean, this is [native to the area that spreads from] north eastern India to Burma, Thiland, Korea and Japan. The way other people eat is totally different than how Manipuris cook it. This is a highly nutritious vegetable. It is not necessary that ngari (fermented fish) should be included in this recipe.’

Sinju: Ingredients and preparation

Jugindra Sorokhaibam writes: Considering the varieties of Sinju available [even an] abridged version [of its recipes] would still be a small booklet. Arzoo adds: There is no fix recipe one should follow…Cooking is improvisation / is an art….make your own recipe.

Indpaedia has collected some variants:

Achintya’s recipe

Making Sinju is an art. Green raw leafy vegetables like cabbage and several others are finely shred and garnished with roasted ground dal (besan) to make Sinju. In season green tender pods of tree beans or Yangchak (Parkia roxburgii) are also added. That adds to the taste and nutritive value in terms of protein. Many like to flavour Sinju with Sidal (fermented fish) roasted on fire. But that is optional. Many prefer it without.

Arzoo’s recipe

Easy recipe of sinju lovers- Grate cabbage (that way it is easy on digestion and of course easy on chewing) + Mix boiled peas (green or yellow).+ very small pieces of green or regular onion + any greens you have at home/make sure you cut small/fine + mayantong (fresh or dry) OR Basil leaves would do too + green hot pepper if you like

You need roasted besan/gram flour + red chili powder + Black sesame powder (which is only available in Manipur) However if you don’t have it don’t worry. ADD regular black sesame powder. Add salt last since it makes sinju mushy.

Yongchaak sin[g]ju

”Yong-chak” literally means monkey rice. It is the name of a flat, wing-shaped bean. Yongchaak sin[g]ju is called stinky beans in English, and ngari is called stinky fish.

Thambou Singju

Thambou means Lotus Root and Thambou Singju is a popular Manipuri dish. Most of the ingredients are fresh and unboiled.

Khonjel’s recipe


1. Salt

2. Chilli

3. Pea powder (Homemade by grinding fried pea)

4. Thambou (Lotus Root)

5. Coriander Leaves

6. Onion

7. Ngari ( Fermented fish)


1. Gather the ingredients.

2. Wash them and slice the thambou and onion.

3. Fry the ngari

4. Fry and grind the pea

5. Fry the chilli, too

6. Cut the coriander leaves into small pieces.

7. Put all the ingredients in a jar or any other favourable utensils and stir them until you get the perfect Thambou Sinju

Effect on health

Positive: Not only the Manipuris themselves but also their good-natured neighbours in Tripura feel that ‘a poor Manipuri does generally enjoys comparatively better health and is more muscular and athletic, as claimed by some, than his other neighbours of same economic status not used to green salad.’

That might explain Manipur’s very high position in Indian athletics.

Negative: Sinju, as indeed all salads, are best eaten if homemade or made by a restaurant reputed for its hygienic standards. Raw vegetables, anywhere in the world, sometimes be the cause of Neurocysticercosis if the ingredients are contaminated.

Where to find sinju in Manipur

Deepak tells us, ‘I have tasted vegetable [preparations] of Yongchak such as ironba, kanhau and Singju at the Govindji Temple; the Thakurbari Temple at Paona Bazar; the Temple of Phurilatpam Bamon at Meimu Leirak and at Akoijam Laisang at Tera.”

When and where to find sinju in Agartala

Making a good Sinju is an art. Those interested may drop in during the preparation of Vandra at Radhanagar Manipuri Mandap, Agartala [Tripura] during Ratha Yatra. One would find several Mous (young married women) fresh from head bath in clean attire with chandan (sandalwood paste) on their foreheads busy giggling and preparing sinju from heaps of green leaves. No sidal is permissible for prasad ofcourse. No Vandra (community feast/prasad) is complete without Sinju.

Manipuri food in Guwahati

See Guwahati

Traditional, ethnic and fermented foods of different tribes of Manipur

Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, Vol. 11(1), January 2012, pp. 70-77, Nopr.Niscair

Devi P & Suresh Kumar P

ICAR RC NEH Region, AP centre, Basar, Arunachal Pradesh- 791101 E-mail:

Traditional knowledge exists among different tribes on preparing boiled foods, fermented foods, beverages and nutritionally rich traditional foods from various indigenous crop plants, forest products and meat of wild and domesticated animals. Manipur has great ethno-cultural diversity, with two major tribes, the Nagasand the Kukis. The Naga tribe comprises the Maring, Mao, Maram, Kabui, Tangkhul, Tadubi, Kolya, Khoiras/Mayangkhong, Koirangs, Chirus and Maring where as the Kuki tribe comprises the Mizos, Paite, Thadou and Vaiphei. Meitei and Meitei Pangalsare two non tribal communities of Manipur who has individual identity. The traditional foods of the Manipuries comprises Iromba, Champhu, Kangshoi, Hawaichar, Soibum, Ngaree, , Paknam, Chagem pomba, Kangshu, Hentak, Khazing, Heikak, sticky rice chapatti/bread, etc.

Alcoholic beverages made up of rice are very common in almost all the festivals of the tribal peoples of Manipur locally called as Yu.Among different produces, the people of Manipur have the habit of taking variety of leafy vegetables which are available in plenty in the dense forests.

Keywords: Manipur, Traditional foods, Fermented foods, Bamboo products, Ethnic foods

IPC Int. Cl.8: A47G, A47G 19/26, A47J 39/02, B01D 3/00, C12C 11/00, C12C 12/04, C12C 7/00, A01G 16/00

Manipur is one of the eight states of Northeast India, bounded by Nagaland in the North, Mizoram in the South, Assam in the West, and by the borders of the country Myanmar in the East as well as in the part of South. The state lies at latitude of 23°83’N - 25°68’N and longitude of 93°03’E - 94°78’E. The total area covered by the state is 22,327 km² with the population of 23, 88, 634. The major crops of this state are wheat, pulses, paddy, maize, sugarcane, potato and mustard. The major fruits are pineapple, banana, papaya, passion fruit, orange, lemon and mango. The major vegetables are cabbage, cauliflower, pea, french bean and tomato. The major forest products are oak, teak, pine, cane, bamboo, leihao and uningthou. The major export products are bamboo shoot products ginger, pineapple, mushroom, etc 1Glutinous rice is cultivated in the valley and inter-most river basins of the hills. Transplantation methods in the valley cultivations led to substantial growth of population with a distinct peasantry, associated with riverine and lacustrine village settlements.

The Government of Manipur had recognized 32 different tribes. They are: Animol, Chothe, Kacha Naga, Kom, Maring, Paite, Sema, Tarao,Anal, Gante, Kharem, Lamgang, Mao, Poumi Naga, Simte Thadou,Angami,Hmar,Koirao,Luisai,Mansang,Purum,Sahlte,Vaipei,Chiru,Kabui,Koirangm, Maram, Mayon, Ralte, Tangkhul and Jou. These tribes come into two major tribes, i.e. i) Naga:The Naga tribe comprises the Maring, Mao, Maram, Kabui, Tangkhul, Tadubi, Kolya, Khoiras/Mayangkhong, Koirangs, Chirus and Maring.

They occupy the Northern and North-western hills of Manipur. The staple food is rice which is cooked either in earthern pot/metal pot or in bamboo tube. Young bamboo shoots are collected during summer season and are peeled, dried and then added with rice for consumption.

ii) Kuki: They are also known as Khongois.

They occupy the South western and South eastern hills and is wide spread in the district of Churachandpur, Tangnoupal and Sadar hills in the northern Manipur. This tribe comprises the Mizos, Paite, Thadou and Vaiphei Rice is the staple food and there is certain restriction in the consumption of animal flesh. Rice beer (Yu) is the most important alcoholic beverages in all the festivals of this tribe Dried fish is eaten by almost all the ethnic groups. All type of domestic animals is eaten except cat. They also eat locusts, dog, all kinds of birds and frogs.

Meiteiand Meitei Pangals are the communities of Manipur which does not belong to tribes. The meiteis are distributed in the main valley and fish is the common article of diet. Rice is the staple food and wheat is not taken in the form of chappatti or roti.

The majorities of Meitei Pangals occupies the Thoubal district and follow the Islamic way of life. The region as a whole provides an exotic mosaic, rich in the tapestry of colour, rhythm and movement .All the ethnic groups living in the hills and the valley prefer wild plants/plant parts as foods to introduce cultivate plants. Though many of these plants are available, nowadays the number and quality of species are much less than past. Very few numbers of introduced plants are replacing this vast number of wild plants.

Different tribes have their own traditional foods and beverages. The traditional food habits of tribal population of the state are very simple and have to do with the festival and rituals which forms a mosaic of ethnic cultural combinations. Traditional knowledge exists among different tribes on preparing boiled foods, fermented foods, beverages and nutritionally rich traditional foods from various indigenous crop plants, forest products and meat of wild and domesticated animals. These foods are part and parcel of their social spectrum of life. Traditional foods are not only rich in nutrients but also have certain curative properties against many diseases and disorders Meitei diet has been influenced by many other cultures due to various socio political reasons.

Sanskritisation is one of the biggest factors that influence the change of dietary habit. From the meat eater they became fish eater, and those who accepted the Hinduism to its extreme even gave up fish and became pure vegetarian. The Manipurisare usually two meals eater, one in the morning and the other in the evening /night. Occasionally, enjoy taking Sinju vegetable salad with fermented fish or roasted gram flour. Alcoholic beverages of different tribal communities have received attention of several ethnobotanists and anthropologists. Introduction of fast foods thorough globalization process, accompanied by decrease in the use of traditional foods of local tribe has resulted in many diseases notably diabetes, heart diseases, and anaemia particularly to pregnant and lactating women.

Though the new generation of tribes adopted to modern food habits, due to its importance, it is imperative to document the traditional food products and their importance among different tribal communities.


The present study was conducted in Manipur state covering all the districts. Thirty different villages covering 200 different tribal people were conducted to make the final conclusion. The population is covered in such a way that it comprises of more than 50% elders as they practice those traditional practices still in household. The response of all sampled respondents was recorded. A questionnaire after pretesting and thereafter editing by amending, recording errors and deleting queries that were obviously erroneous was filled through structured participatory interviews at the site residence of rural people. Secondary information was collected from district agriculture information centre, books, reports, and electronic and non- electronic sources. The use of multiple sources of information was intended to increase `construct validity of the case study in terms of seeking convergent lines of inquiry.

Results and discussion

Dietary pattern

Staple diet of the Manipuries is rice mixed with Bora/Bada fried or roasted peas or gram or Kangou, the fried vegetable and pulse. Rice is also eaten with seasonal vegetables cooked with smoked, dried or fermented fish. The meitei loves it mixed with vegetable chutney (Iromba)/boiled delicacy (Champhut and Kangshoi). This is a mixture of various boiled vegetable mashed with fermented fish and chillies. Others like Parkia roxburghii(Yongchak), lotus rhizome (Thambou), green Makhana (Thangjing), etc are Manipuries exclusives.

The Meities eats more than hundred varieties of leafy vegetables. They learnt a very special art of fermenting soyabean, bamboo shoots and fishes from time immemorial. They make Hawaichar from soyabean, Soibum , Shoidon and Soijin from the bamboo shoots.

Ngaree and Hentak are made from the small fishes. Carefully done fermentation is very important for the safety reasons. Otherwise occasional food poisoning is heard from hawaichar and mixed vegetable salad/chutney.

Iromba an eclectic combination of fresh vegetables, bamboo shoots, fermented fish and chillies. Heithongba is a pungent dish of lemon, sugar, salt, aonla and tamarind. Maroi morok thongba , is another type of speciality.

Morok stands for green chilli, as a result, this dish is bit hot in taste. Madhurjan is a sweet made of milk, sugar and gramflour. A black lentil called Ooty is compulsory at all feasts. Vegetables consist of cauliflower/ lai patha called Sak with pumpkin made into a hot and spicy curry along with spinach and banana inflorescence. A wonderful salad called Sinju made of finely shredded vegetables and raw papaya, tossed in herbs. A dessert made of rice called chak-hao is deep violet in colour and is combined with milk, sugar, coconut and dry fruits. Suktani is a combination of neem leaves, basak leaves and sugar. Sweet Kabok is made up of molasses and rice is a famous snack among the Manipuries.

Preparation of some Traditional foods

Soyabean products


Hawaijar is an indigenous traditional fermented soyabean with characteristic flavour and stickiness. It is consumed commonly in the local diet as a low cost source of high protein food and plays an economical, social and cultural role in Manipur. There is intent to upgrade the status of Hawaijar in order to increase its marketability and profitability. In the traditional method of Hawaijar preparation, medium and small sized soyabean ( Glycine max L.) seeds are cleaned and sorted. The graded soyabean seeds are dipped in water where the water level should be twice than that of the seeds and leave it overnight. The seeds are washed properly for two to three times with running water which is followed by cooking either by using pressure cooker or by conventional methods. The solid portion, i.e. the cooked soybean was placed in a bamboo basket after draining off the water portion. The greasy portion is washed with lukewarm water till it becomes non-greasy, and the remaining water was drained off completely and the content is turned upside down once or twice. The water portion is said to be useful in washing cloths in olden times. The drained water is believed to help in curing TB and also good for women. Thrice folded cloth is placed in a coarse bamboo basket. A thick layer of Ficus hispida leaves, locally known as Asse heibong or banana ( Musa spp.) leaves are placed upon it. The cooked soyabeans are placed in alternate layers above that. At the end, another cloth which is folded 2 to 3 times is placed and then the whole content is tied tightly with another cloth to make air tight. This should be placed under the sun during day times and near the fireplace at night in order to let the fermentation process complete properly and also to avoid maggots damage. The fermented soyabean, i.e. hawaichar is ready in 3 days during summer and during winter it takes 5 days. In order to add more flavour it was kept near the fireplace as long as possible. Ancient time’s rice husks were used instead of cloth. Hawaichar can be eaten raw with salt and chilli or cooked, etc. The preparation of hawaichar by natural fermentation leads to variation in quality due to varying methodologies, fermentation time and temperature of incubation. The fermentation takes place under uncontrolled environmental conditions that often leads to unsuccessful fermentation and poor quality products which might be due to native fermenting microflora 8 . The traditional hawaichar is characterised by its alkalinity ( p H 8.0-8.2), stickiness, and pungent odour. The preparation of hawaichar is very simple, similar to that of Japanese Itohiki-Natto (the whole soyabean seed is used for fermentation) 9 . But in Kinema (another Indian fermented soyabean), it is dehulled and cracked into pieces before fermentation 10 . Unlike Kinema there is no addition of firewood ash during hawaichar production. Microorganisms were isolated and identified in hawaichar by molecular techniques and resulted that three major phylogenic group, i.e. Bacillus group comprising Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis, and Staphylococcus spp. comprising Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus sciuri are involved 11 .

Dried Hawaichar

There are two types of dried hawaichar commonly prepared by the people of Manipur. The first method involves the common technique of making hawaijar . After one week of preparation, salt is mixed along with the hawaijar . The whole content is poured in a bamboo (any bamboo with a longer internodes, bigger hole and thinner outer part) where it is sealed with the bamboo leaves and tied very tightly with a plastic sheet. This is then placed in top of the fire place in the kitchen for one week. The hawaijar obtained from this has lesser smell and taste better. This can be kept for a longer period of time. The second method is to dry the fermented soyabean i.e. hawaijar in direct sunlight and make it moisture free.

Pickled hawaijar

This method is practiced recently by the people of Manipur. The fermented soyabean i.e. the hawaijar is fried in oil along with some m asala and add a pinch of salt to taste. This is then filled in a bottle along with the excess oil and sealed. This can be stored for a longer period of time.


Onion leaves, chilli, salt, half tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate, turmeric, spices, garam masala and ngari are required for the preparation of paknam . All the contents are smashed properly then gram flour is added into it, which should be mixed thoroughly and placed in one or two layers of turmeric leaves. The whole content is baked on a hot pan and a heavy weight is placed upon. After 30 to 45 minutes it imparts a typical flavour which indicates the product is cooked. Paknam can be stored for a day or two at the maximum. Tree mushroom paknam can also be prepared where all the ingredients are the same except that no besan and sodium bicarbonate is added and tree mushroom is added along with the other ingredients. Nganam paknam is another kind of paknam where small fishes are used while preparing the paknam . In this case also, no besan (gram flour) and sodium bicarbonate is added while small amount of asafoetida and cut green chillies are added.

Chagem Pomba

Cucumber, carrot leaf, squash and its leaves, etc are taken and then broken rice is added to it of about 50 gm Some other vegetables which are cut into small pieces can also be added. The contents are fried in mustard oil, but stirring with spoon is restricted. All the spices are added and a small amount of asafoetida to it and kept it for at least 2 whistles in pressure cooker. Fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare ) was added when almost cooked, instead of coriander in it.

Sea food based products


For the preparation of ngari (fermented fish), a typical small type of fish locally called as phabou nga is used. Daily meal of Manipuries is never completed without ngari , which is eaten either in the form of chutney ( iromba or morok metpa ) or as an ingredient in other curries. The phabou nga is washed thoroughly with water and sundried properly till it becomes crispy. Crushing of the fish head should be done properly with the help of a hammer. A special vessel is used for the preparation of ngari , where mustard oil is plastered, the dried fish is then stacked in proper order. The container is closed air tight after filling. In order to make it air tight, sand is placed on the top and fermentation is allow to occur naturally. It takes about 3 to 6 months to mature and ready to eat. It imparts a typical odour which indicates that the fish is well fermented and ready for eating.


Kangshu is another typical traditional food which is eaten by the Manipuries . Centella asiatica (Indian pennyworth) is cooked in a pressure cooker up to two whistles after washing with water for the preparation of kangshu . Product is cut into small pieces after draining the excess water. Morok metpa (mixture of ngari , chilli and salt) is added in it and is mixed thoroughly. To add flavour roasted prawn or fish is added and finally coriander is added. Kangshu can also be prepared by using bamboo shoots instead of Centella asiatica . In this case, the bamboo shoots are cut into pieces after washing with running water and kept it overnight, and then the next day it is again washed and cooked in a pressure cooker. Thereafter the same procedure is followed as in case of the above.


Hentak was used by the Manipuries before ngari came into existence. Phabou nga or ngakha is used for hentak preparation,. This fish are sun dried after thorough washing till the moisture content in the fish is the lowest. It is then crushed into powder form. Wild colocasia stem is crushed after washing and cutting into pieces. The powdered fish and the crushed wild colocasia stem are mixed properly and are rolled in round form and stored in a container, then after 3 days it is again crushed with the help of a pestle and mortar. This crushing is done at a regular interval if to be stored for a longer period of time. Instead of colocasia stem, onion can also be used but hentak made out of it can not be stored for long.


It is the small sized prawn which is available in the Loktak lake of Manipur. Khazing is available in the market as dried form or is consumed in fresh form. When it is thoroughly dried, it is used in making curries. Dried Khazing has a very long shelf life. In other way, the freshly catch Khazing is fried along with mint leaves ( Mentha arvensis).


Heikak is a hydrophilic plant and the fruit is black in colour and irregular in shape is consumed by almost all the people of Manipur. It is consumed by e ither boiling it in water or by converting it into flour and used for preparing chapatti.

Sticky rice chapatti/bread

This kind of chapatti or bread is prepared during the festivals like Gan-ngai or Lui-ngai ni or Christmas by the youths. The required amount of sticky rice is soaked for 3-4 hrs in plain water then sun drying is carried out on a bamboo tray known as yankok locally. When it is dried completely with the least moisture in it, grinding is done in a mortar till it becomes powder. The coarser part is removed with the help of a sieve and ground again. In another container sugar solution is prepared, the amount of sugar depends upon the desired taste of the person. Now, the rice flour is mixed with the sugar syrup and chapatti is prepared. Bread can be prepared in two different methods, i.e. 1 Boiled method: In this method, the mixture of rice flour with the sugar syrup is made very hard and round in shape which is then wrapped with cardamom leaves and tied properly. In another container water is boiled and the above content is poured and cooking is carried out for an hour. This kind of bread can be kept for one week but gets hard if kept for long so, the cardamom leaves are removed and the content is fried in oil. 2 Fried method: The mixture of rice flour with the sugar syrup is made softer by adding more water and made to round shape. A small amount of edible oil is also added in it. Then in the fire place some charcoal is removed just near by and the content is put on top of it. When this becomes black in colour, it is turned upside down so that the other part also becomes black. The upper black portion is scraped out and the remaining is used for consumption. This method is the oldest form of making bread by the hill people of Manipur. The Tangkhul people of Manipur prepare another special kind of chapatti from sesame. In this method, the mixture of rice flour with water is made very hard and even coarser part of the rice flour can also be used. No additional items are added with it, not even salt. Then similar to the fry method, some charcoal is removed just near by and the content is put on top of it near the fire. In a mortar, raw sesame is ground where a small amount of water is sprinkled in it and salt is added to taste. When oil started coming out from the sesame the above content is added and ground along with it. But if excess amount of oil comes out then it is removed manually. The mixture can be used in preparation of chapatti .

Bamboo based products

In Manipur bamboo forest covers an area of around 3218 sq Km. The most commonly available bamboo species are Bambusa aurndinaca (saneibi), Bambusa pallida (Kal-sundi), Bambusa nana (Khok), Dendrocalamus giganteus (meiribob), Dendrocalamus flagellifer (Longa wa), Dendrocalamus hamiltonii (Wanap/unap/pecha), Dendrocalamus sericeus(Ooii) and Melocana bambusoides (Moubi/muli), Teinostachyum dulooa (Dulu), Teinostachyum wightii(Nath), Bambusa tulda (Utang). About 20-30 MT bamboo shoots are consumed annually for the production of canned bamboo-shoots. Canning is done either in brine or in syrup. Export of these canned bamboo shoots are done in Japan, Singapore, China, Thailand, Hong kong and UK The chemical constitution of a raw bamboo shoot in percentage are; moisture, 88.8; protein, 3.90; fat, 0.5; minerals, 1.10; carbohydrate, 5.70 and calorific value, 43 Kcal. Some important products made from bamboo are: Soibum. Tender bamboo shoots are collected and cleaned, outer sheaths should be removed. Only inner white portion is used for fermentation. There are many ways for the preparation of fermented bamboo shoot, i.e. 1 Inside a pit: In this method, a pit is dug and a basket made by using bamboo of the shape of the pit is placed into it. Care should be taken to slightly inclined the bamboo basket while placing so as to allow the flow of the water produced by the bamboo shoots during fermentation. Wild colocasia leaves is put in and around the pit in a thick layer of about 2-3 inch, then the bamboo shoots are made into longitudinal shreds and kept in air tight condition. The fermented bamboo shoot is ready for sale or for making curry within 3 to 5 days. These fermented bamboo shoots are locally known as soibum (Fig. 1). The water collected from this can also be preserved and is used again in new fermentation of bamboo shoots. Now a day, instead of wild colocasia leaves, plastic sheets are used, provided holes are made in the bottom to allow drainage of water. This kind of fermented bamboo shoots can be kept for a longer period of time i.e. for one month or more if kept air tight. The degree of sourness shows a r apid increase in the initial stage of fermentation but as it reaches a peak point at about 7-10 days, it started decreasing. These methods of preparing fermented bamboo shoots are followed in almost all the hill districts of Manipur. Bamboo varieties such as Sanaibi, Nath, Unal, Longa wa, Meiribob, Ooii, etc are used for this purpose. Care should be taken to avoid varieties such as Utang and Knok as they are not edible 12 . Sanaibi is the best bamboo shoot variety for preparation of fermented bamboo shoots, which is followed by nath variety. But Unal variety gives better texture and appearance. 2 In an earthen pot

This method of the fermentation of bamboo shoot is the same as said above, the only difference is that instead of fermenting the bamboo shoots inside a pit, an earthen pot is used where a hole is made at the bottom for the drainage of excess water during fermentation. During fermentation in an earthen pot some people prefer to add Heibung for enhancing the fermentation and also for a sourer taste. 3 In open condition: In open condition, wild colocasia leaves are used in thick layers. The sliced bamboo shoots are placed on top of it and are again covered with these leaves. Fermentation is allowed to take place in this way. No other addition is done in this method. 4 Dipping in water: For this method a special bamboo variety is used i.e. nath variety. Locally it is called nath ki soibum. This method is commonly used by the people of Bishempur district of Manipur. As the nath bamboo is very small and long, it is sliced longitudinally as whole for about 2-3 cm and it is placed in a container (plastic buckets are generally employed these days) where water is poured just to dipped the contains. It is covered and kept till sale. The fermented bamboo shoots are ready to sale after 3 days. Nath variety gives very tasty fermented bamboo shoots but it can’t be stored for a longer duration of time. 5 Dried Usoi (bamboo shoot): For this purpose any bamboo shoot variety which is edible is used. All the bamboo shoots are sliced to small pieces and is boiled with water then drying in a bamboo tray under the sun is carried out after draining off the excess water. This dried bamboo shoots are packed in plastic sheets and used in off season or is send for sale 4 . 6 Dried soibum (fermented bamboo shoots): In this method, after the completion of normal fermentation of the bamboo shoots, they are dried either under the sun or in top of the fire. For this method the Tankhul people of Manipur uses a special type of bamboo shoots variety which is very small and long, locally known as ngathan . It gives a twisted appearance after drying just like noodles. 7 Fermented bamboo shoot Pickle: The soibum in general (fermented or dried) are consumed by all the people of Manipur devoid of any caste or tribe. It is eaten as raw with fermented fish or boiled and cooked form with any meat or fish or vegetables. It forms an important food part in all the festivals observed by the Manipuries . Nowadays, in some small scale industries the bamboo shoots are blanched after slicing into small pieces in hot water to reduce its enzyme activity and are treated with KMS (1%) for 10 min. After which it is sun dried and packed in an air tight container and is send for sale.

Alcoholic beverages

The commonly consumed alcoholic beverage in Manipur is prepared from rice. It is commonly known as Yu . In this case, any kind of rice is used for the preparation of alcoholic beverage but the Tankhul tribe used only sticky rice. In some of the alcoholic beverages yeast is required for conducting the fermentation. This is prepared as described below.

Preparation of yeast(Hamei)

The quality of rice beer is partially depending upon the quality of yeast used. It is otherwise called as Hamei by Kabui tribes and Chamri by the Tankhul tribes. For preparation of Hamei , finely grinded rice powder, where the rice was previously soaked in water for 2-3 hrs is thoroughly mixed with the bark powders of Yanglei (Fig. 2). The mixture is kept in large vessel and water is added slowly till the mixture made into paste with the required consistency. The paste is then spread on the bamboo mat/banana leaves and made into small cubes or tablet form. The prepared tablets are sun dried till the material is completely dried. Hamei can be stored in cool, dry place for over a year. For 1 kg rice, around 8-10 gm Yanglei is added. Three different kinds of alcoholic beverages are consumed. They are:


a) Y u angouba: For the preparation of yu angouba the rice is soaked in water for around 2-3 hrs along with some germinated paddy. For 1 Kg rice around 100gm germinated paddy is added. After this, the water is drained out and the soaked rice is crushed with the help of a mortar till powder form. In another vessel water is boiled and in this boiled water the crushed rice is added with continuous stirring till it gets cooled then it is covered by a muslin cloth and kept for 2-3 days without any disturbance. Within these days form started coming out and a typical flavour and odour is released. This indicates that yu angouba is now ready to consume. The Tankhul tribe of Manipur uses a typical pot which is of the shape of a conical flask, so after pouring the content it is sealed with cow dung and ashes mixture. This tribe uses only paddy and not rice for the preparation of yu angouba , and it is known as Khor in their local dialect 12 . Yu angouba can’t be stored for a longer period of time. It can be stored for a maximum of 7 days. This kind of alcoholic beverage if consumed within 2-3 days then is said to be beneficial for our body, it is compared to drinking of milk but in a limited quantity i.e. 500 ml at the maximum. b) Atingba: In this type of alcoholic beverage rice is cooked and spread in a container or in a tray made of bamboo. Hamei is mixed properly along with the cooked rice. The whole content is transferred in a vessel then a little amount of water is poured just to dip it. Then cover with a muslin cloth. Heat is released for 2-3 days 13 . After which water is again poured to ease the heat. Atingba is ready to drink after 6-8 hrs of pouring the water but this will give a very light drink. A proper Atingba is formed after 4-5 days of fermentation during summer and after 7-8 days in winter. This kind of alcoholic beverage can be consumed for only 1-2 days after fermentation but can be kept for around 1-2 months which is used for preparing Yu . The tankhul tribe calls this type of wine as Patso . c ) Y u: Yu in kabui or Acham in tankhul is prepared from Atingba . This Atingba is poured in an aluminum pot and is cooked in low flame. Above to this pot an aluminum funnel is placed and from this a pipe is connected to the otter part of the pot. This pipe is used for collecting yu . The pot is covered tightly with an aluminum plate. On top of this another aluminum pot is placed containing cold water. All the connecting points are sealed properly with cow dung paste. Distillation continuous until all the alcohol present in the content is out. This can be checked by dipping a small stick into the boiling Atingba and lit it, if produce green flame than it indicates that the alcohol content is more 14 ,15 . So, based on this technique the distillation process is continued. The remaining content after the extraction of yu is used as pig feed. This type of alcoholic beverage is very hard as compared to the others stated above (Fig. 3). Another kind of alcoholic beverage prepared from ba nana is commonly consumed by the naga tribes of Manipur known as Banana wine; this is prepared by fermenting the ripe banana in a closed container with a little amount of water 16 . No inoculum is added for conducting the fermentation. The wine is ready to drink after 3 days and is advisable to consume it within 1 or 2 days after opening the cover.


The society, culture, traditions, ethics and food habit of any community cannot be seen in the isolated mode as they are all intermingled and much more complex. The ecology provides a range of probability to select the plant and animal sources, culture decides the tradition and the ethics determines the habit of eating the food. The traditions maintained by various communities of Manipuries are having strong ethical issues. The advent of modern civilization has adversely affected the tradition and heritage of community and thus the younger generations are not exposed to traditional practices. There should be focused efforts to promote traditional food systems within rural communities. Rewarding and acknowledging young people who demonstrate interest and awareness in the health of environment and in their traditional foods would also raise the profile of these issues. Traditional foods, community dinners can also provide opportunities to promote food products and knowledge about ethnic foods. In future, the nutritional and microbial aspects of various traditional foods are needed to be analyzed.


We heartily thank to all the tribal people who shared their traditional knowledge with the authors to compile this manuscript. The financial help offered to conduct this survey by GOI from CSS Horticulture mission is also highly acknowledged.


1 Haokip & Ngamthang, Basic Delineation Map of Manipur, Profile on state of environment report of Manipur, (Ministry of Environment and Forests, Manipur), 2006-07, 4-9. 2 Census Population, Census of India , (Ministry of Finance India), 2001, 12-18. 3 Bareh HM, Encyclopaedia of NE India 1. Arunachal Pradesh , (Mittal Publication, New Delhi), 2001, 2-233. 4 Singh RK & Sureja AK, Centurion women and diverse knowledge systems, Indian J Tradit Knowle, 5 (3) (2006) 413-419. 5 Mao AA & Odyou M, Traditional fermented foods of the Naga tribes of North-eastern India, Indian J Tradit Knowle, 6 (1) (2007) 37-41. 6 http://www.manipur.webs/ 7 Singh NR, Dietary pattern: Edible wild plants of Manipur, (ADAM Publications), 2003, 7-9. 8 Tamang JP, Ethnic fermented foods of the eastern Himalayas, In: 2 nd International conference on fermented foods, health status and social wellbeing , SASNET, Dec 17-18, 2005, (Anand Agricultural University, Anand), India, 235. 9 Ohta T, Natto , In: Legume-based fermented foods , edited by NR Reddy, MD Pierson, & DK Salunkhe, (CRC Press, Florida), 1986, 85-95. 10 Sarkar PK, Tamang JP, Cook PE & Owens JD, Kinema -a traditional soybean fermented food: proximate composition and microflora, Food Microbiol , 11(1994) 47-55. 11 Jeyaram K, Singh WM, Premarani T, Devi AR & Chanu KS, Talukdar NC & Singh MR, Molecular diversification of dominant microflora associated with Hawaijar - a traditional fermented soybean ( Glycine max L. ) food of Manipur, India, Int J Food Microbiol , 122 (2008) 259-268. 12 Manihar Singh A, History of Manipuri Literature , (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi), 1966, 12. 13 Hijam Irabot, Imagi Pujah, Imphal, (Irabot Leirak Phonba Lup), 2005, 12-17. 14 15 Chatradhari S & Irabot H, (Soyam Publication. Imphal). 1996, 23-34 16 Lokendrajit S, Irabot Ki Seireng, Ritu , (Manipur Sahitya Parishad. Imphal), 1997, 9 -11.

See also

Some other Manipur-related articles

A history of Manipur: 1890-1930

Bala Hijam

Maisnam Betombi Singh

Manipur: cuisine

Mary Kom


Nagaland: cuisine

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