East Indian Cuisine
East Indian Cuisine comprises cuisines of the states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, and Orissa. This region is home to beaches and mountains and Cherrapunji, the place with the highest rainfall in the world.
Because of the climate, East India grows a lot of rice. Green vegetables and fruit are also plenteous and thus are the recipes using them. Though, people here are a balanced mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The geographical location of this region means its food has a strong influence on Chinese and Mongolian cuisine.
The Eastern Indian cuisine comprises Bengali and Assamese food along with the dishes of other northeastern states and Oriya cuisine. Preparation is not complicated and neither are most of the ingredients. Frying and steaming are the popular methods of cooking. In coastal regions, fish is the food of choice while further inland pork gets most of the position on the plate. People of no other region in India can equal the Eastern Indians’ love for desserts and sweets. Some of India’s most popular and world-renowned sweets come from this part.
East Indian cuisine is known for its plethora of rice due to the ideal growing climate. Dishes also take advantage of a variety of local vegetables and fruit. Other popular ingredients include mustard seeds and paste, chilies (both green and red), as well as Paanch Phoran which is a mix of five Indian spices which are mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek, fennel seeds, and kalo jira (kalonji).
Coconut, yogurt, maize, and gram flour are also common ingredients. Dairy products also play a huge role in the preparation of East Indian Cuisine sweets. Mustard oil is also very popular and used for both cooking and deep-frying. Other vegetable oils are also utilized and ghee is only used for cooking foods for special occasions.
The East Indian dishes have less spice than their neighboring regions’ recipes, granting the main ingredients to shine through. The coastal section permits a variety of fresh seafood, the warm climate, and lush forest for ample produce. The Muslim settlers and European explorers left their mark, resulting in a unique style of cooking that is purely East Indian.
Some of the popular dishes are momos (steamed, meat- or vegetable-filled wontons) and Thukpa (a clear soup). Jhaal-Muri (a spicy snack made with puffed rice and mustard oil), Tomato Achaar (tomato pickle), and Macher Jhol (fish curry) are also commonly seen on menus.
Let us delve into the various types of cuisine that exist in the Eastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Bengali cuisine is mainly characterized by rice and fish as it is a coastal area and receives a lot of rainfall in the monsoon. Bengalis use mustard oil for cooking and are most famous for the use of panch phoron which is a delightful combination of five special spices namely black nigella seeds, fennel, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and fenugreek. Some popular dishes loved by the Bengalis are macher jhol (fish curry), rasgulla and sandesh, mochar tarkari, shukto, golda chingrir malaikari, kosha mangsho, etc.
The cuisine in Sikkim is very unique. The food culture in Sikkim is influenced by a lot of surrounding countries, especially Tibet. The most loved dishes in this region are momos (steamed and stuffed wontons) and thukpa. Assamese prefer rice and fish and have a knack for sweets. They also have a large variety of rice-based breakfast recipes like chira and komal chaul which is a form of rice that can be eaten after soaking in water for about an hour.
Oriya cuisine relies mainly on locally available ingredients. Subtle and less spicy, the food here is not as hot as consumed in the rest of India. Seafood like prawns and crabs along with meat are very popular here. For the vegetarian crowd, there are a lot of locally available veggies and dals (lentils) which are cooked with panch phutana. This is a balanced mixture of some famous Indian spices like mustard, cumin, kalonji, fennel, and methi. Oriya people are also very fond of sweet dishes.
Arunachali cuisine mainly consists of non-vegetarian dishes whereas Manipuri cuisine consists of rice-based recipes like rice with chicken or fish. A very famous food loved by people here is known as Kabok which is a version of vegetable fried rice. The Meghalayan cuisine favors meat like pork. People here love pork specialties and a delicacy here loved by most people is known as Kabah. The people of Mizoram love meat-based dishes which are not too spicy but more subtle in their flavors. Tripura consists of a large Bengali community that relishes non-vegetarian-based dishes where fish is a very significant part of any food they consume.
Sweets are a very big thing in East Indian Cuisine, and the region is renowned for its sugary treats — as well as the inhabitants’ sweet teeth! Favorites include rasgolla (dumplings in syrup) and Sandesh (made of paneer and sugar), as well as creamy rice pudding (Kheer), coconut cakes, and nankhatai. They are both less dense and lighter than other Indian desserts.