Victor Vanlalhruia takes us through the world of Mizo flavours
The food of Mizoram has a characteristic blend of Chinese, Burmese, and North Indian cuisine; thereby giving it a distinct flavour and taste. Rice is the main item. Local people love to eat pork which is mostly cooked or made into a curry. Other forms of protein found in Mizo food are Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Mutton and Dog meat, but not all prefer the last. Vegetables also play an important part in their meals. One dish that is highly recommended in Mizoram is Bai. It is basically a non-vegetarian dish that is cooked by steaming vegetables and teaming it up with pork fats which has been fermented for at least one week. Another must-try is a grape wine named ‘Zawlaidi‘, which is a popular drink in the State.
Here are some typical Mizo items that you should definitely try –
Khanghu Kan: Khanghu Kan is a very tasty vegetable, but it does have a strong smell. The vegetable is usually fried in oil along with red chillies to enhance the taste.
Vawksa Rep Chhum: Mix Vawksa Rep (steamed pork) with mustard. Adding mustard not only enhances the taste and also cuts out the pork fat.
Bakhkhate Kan: Bakkhate is a sour vegetable. Cook it in oil in a frying pan; add tomatoes, garlic, onion, chilli, turmeric and salt to enhance the taste. Tomatoes are important because it helps to balance the sour taste of the vegetable.
Behlawi Bai: Behlawi Bai is mixed vegetables with fermented pork fats. It is a Mizo speciality. The ingredients used are Behlawihnah, Bawkbawn (brinjal/eggplant), Bahkhawr, green and red chilli, Sa-um, Purun zung (fermented pork fat), soda and salt. First boil water, and then add the vegetables and soda. Boil for 20 minutes. Then add the main ingredient Behlawihnah along with Sa-um and boil for about 10 minutes. This mixture is called Bai and so the dish is called Behlawi Bai.
Zawngtah and Bekang: Zawngtah is found in a very tall tree called Zawngtah Kung, and Bekang is fermented soya bean. Mixing it with salt and red chilli is a great way to eat it.