blog khasi food

Eating like a local in Shillong

During my time in Mumbai and Pune, I terribly missed Northeast Indian food. I missed home food. I missed the Naga food that I had only tasted for the first time while in Bangalore, even though I am from Tripura, one of the seven sisters that make Northeast India. We don’t really get exposure to the food of the other states unless one travels extensively.

The most surprising aspect is that my mother was born and brought up in Shillong. We would pass Jowai and Shillong every summer break while driving from Dharmanagar (Tripura) to Guwahati. Even after spending a good 18 years in Northeast India and shuttling through Meghalaya as frequently as a Punekar does to Mumbai, I hadn’t had my first taste of Khasi food (Meghalayan food) till 2012!  And Doh khleh, which later I would come to love was the first-ever Khasi recipe I tasted. Thanks to my friend Badap whose Mom served up this local delicacy. She said she would only tell me what it was made of once I had finished eating it. And that I did.  Soft parts of pork, like the tongue and the brain, goes into making this simple salad and contrary to Badap’s expectation I was unperturbed. Since then I have always ordered a portion of Doh khleh (literally translating into doh- meat from khleh -head) whenever I have my Khasi meal.

Enjoying some traditional Ao Naga cuisine in their traditional wooden stand plate in Mokokchung in March 2017!
Me enjoying some traditional Ao Naga cuisine in their traditional wooden stand plate in Mokokchung in March 2017!

Image Courtesy for Ao Naga food – Amrita Amesur

So, I thought it may be a good idea to share a bit of my understanding of the other local Meghalayan(Khasi) food I have tasted over the years. In case you happen to be travelling to Meghalaya you should not miss out on those delicacies, especially if you are a non-vegetarian. I hope this list of top Khasi foods to try in Meghalaya would be quite handy. So without further ado let’s jump to the list: 

1) Jadoh

To simply put it, jadoh is an authentic delicacy of the Khasis of Meghalaya which is equivalent to biryani in essence. But it isn’t as grandly flavoured, and may not be everyone’s platter of choice if you actually try the truly authentic preparation. Why? Well because it is rice cooked in pork or chicken blood! Now, don’t you worry since when you order jadoh you will probably get to choose the one for tourists which is made by adding generous portions of pork meat mixed with rice (short-grained). It can also be made with chicken and fish of your taste. The other condiments that are added would be green chillies, onions, ginger, turmeric, black pepper and bay leaves. 

Jadoh

Image Courtesy for Jadoh – Chandan Baruah

How should you order it?

You should ask kong (respectfully referring to a lady) to serve Jadoh with some Tungtap, Tungrymbai, Dohjem and some fresh crunchy leaves.

2) Doh Jem

Doh Jem is a staple food of the Khasis which is prepared by cutting small pieces of pork belly fat, liver, kidneys, and intestines of the pig. Black sesame seeds, onions, bay leaves, fresh ginger & garlic paste are used to make this local preparation of Meghalaya. You can add coriander leaves to garnish this once the dish is ready to be served. 

Doh Jem

How should you order it?

You can order Doh Jem with red rice, daiong (black dal), some fresh salad and lettuce. If your olfactory sense can bear the pungent smell of tungrymbai, then this deadly combo is a must eat. Doh Jem also goes well with Jadoh and Putharo which is steamed rice cake.

Read about the 6 Interesting conversation starters when you meet locals on your trip to Meghalaya.

3) Doh Khleh

Doh Khleh can be prepared in two ways. The first version is a salad made by mincing boiled pork meat, onions, and it is garnished with boiled pig brains.  It’s that simple but it is that good too! 

Doh Khleh

Image Courtesy for Doh Khleh – kitchen_story_17

How should you order it?

If you’re up for a healthy meal then rice- dal and doh neiiong go well with this. Always add some fresh crunchy and zingy vegetable mustard leaves on the side.

4) Doh Snam

It is a sausage made of pork intestines or pork bites which are known for being seasoned in pork blood. Doh Snam is called blood sausage because of the way it is prepared. A thin layer of pork fat is also used to wrap the pork intestines. You must head for Laitlyngkot to savour this uncanny food of Meghalaya.

Doh Snam

Image Courtesy for Doh Sanam – Marlon Rani

How should you order it?

You must garnish it with some freshly chopped onions and some local coriander.

5) Doh Neiiong

The speciality of Doh neiiong is is that it is a meat-based gravy made with either chicken or pork. It is cooked with black sesame seeds. The other ingredients that go in this dish are onions, green chillies, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chilli paste. This a must-eat for pork lovers and is the easiest to be adopted by people used to mainstream meat preparations. 

Doh Neiiong

Image Courtesy for Doh Neiiong – Gitika’s PakGhor

How should you order it?

It’s a personal favourite and goes well with white/red rice or sticky rice and some salad.

6) Doh Thad

Doh Thad is a delectable local cuisine of Meghalaya that is made of smoked meat of either pork, beef or fish. The smoked pieces of meat are later fried with onions and chillies and your perfect beer snack is ready! 

Doh Thad

Image Courtesy for Doh Thad – LleweLyn Fernandez Lamare

How should you order it?

It’s good with beer as a snack or even with your rice meal. The smokey flavour and the perfect crispiness are how the taste is judged.

7) Tungtap

A chutney made out of dry fish, onion, garlic, turmeric, red round chillies, tomatoes, fried in mustard oil. It has a sharp pungent smell. It adds the much-needed zing to a usually mildly spicy Khasi food. 

Tungtap

Image Courtesy for Tungtap – Rajarymbai

How should you order it?

You can order it as a chutney with almost every combination of a Khasi traditional meal.

Read about the 5 best waterfalls in East Khasi Hills that you must visit.

8) Tungrymbai

Fermented soybean seeds cooked in pork fat, served as a chutney. It has a strong odour and is very popular especially during winters. So, if you smell something strange while passing an eatery or just anywhere in Meghalaya then it is probably tungrymbai.

Tungrymbai

Image Courtesy for Tungrymbai – Meijong Khasi Cuisine

How should you order it?

This dish adds flavour to your plain meal. You can have it with any rice meal, but it may not be available all the time as it’s seasonal and is available only during the winters.

9) Putharo

This is a simple steamed rice cake that would be something akin to idli perhaps. An earthen dish is used to mould the rice and then it is baked. You have it as a part of your snacks. It is easy on the tongue, so vegetarians who can’t try anything local can go for this and be like ‘Yeah, I tried local food!’

Putharo

Image Courtesy for Putharo – Sayan Deori

How should you order it?

You can try it with Doh Jem. (for the non-vegetarians)

10) Myliem Chicken

Local chicken cooked with different condiments, most notably, the small round Khasi peppers. This dish is named after the place you get it in, so it is essential to try it at Mylliem!

Mylliem-Chicken

Image Courtesy for Mylliem-Chicken – Crazy Masala Food

How should you order it?

It is found in the village of Myliem, approximately 17 kilometres from Shillong, just try it with rice. You can have it with Indian bread too if you don’t prefer rice.

Conclusion:

I am no food expert so my descriptions may not be perfect, but what I have shared from purely personal experience and there are few other delicacies of the Khasis that I haven’t tried and hence they are not on this list. I have tried almost all of these in and around Shillong and that tells you that the other cuisines especially Garo cuisine is a different ball game and I’ll try and cover that in some other blog. I am sorry to disappoint those looking for vegetarian food in Shillong but not to worry since we are working on a “food hack for vegetarians in Meghalaya” and that should get you excited.

Have you tried any of this local Shillong food or something else? Do let me know in the comments. 

P.S.We customise culinary trips to all states of Northeast India so if you are interested then get in touch with us here. 

 

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