Recently I travelled to Bomdila, a small hilly town in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, to attend the Buddha Mahotsava festival. Held for the first time, it was exciting to witness interesting cultural events, watch live performances by well known artistes and more. I also got to indulge in the local cuisine and drinks that made my stay even more memorable.
Bomdila is unreasonably cold during October, November and December, thankfully you can get your hands on traditional hot beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) to keep you warm. During the day when the sun is shining bright, it gets a bit hot but in the evening sitting at the open grounds until late at night is a challenge. However it doesn’t seem so bad when you sip some hot Butter Tea. A popular beverage in the State, this tea differs from the tea we are so used to drinking at home is that it’s made with butter instead of milk. It is salty and has a unique flavour!
One thing that you should not miss out on when you are visiting Arunachal Pradesh is indulging in the local cuisine. Boiled vegetables along with roast dry meat and fish dominates the cuisines of the various tribes. Rice is the staple food accompanied with fish, meat and vegetables. Lettuce is common, they boil it with ginger, coriander, chillies and with a pinch of salt. It’s a healthy alternative to vegetables fried in oil.
Boiled rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves is a famous snack. Like Thukpa is a common food of the Monpa tribe, similarly rice cakes with boiled veggies and roasted and salted fish, meat dried in the sun is a delicacy that is very popular among the Nyishi tribe.
One of the most famous drinks in Arunachal Pradesh is the Apong, which is a kind of rice beer. When it is especially cold weather, they tend to heat it up before drinking. Different variants of the rice beer with different flavours are found in various parts of the State. Another thing that you should try, when you are there is locally-made Kiwi wine, made from the Kiwi fruit. The light golden coloured wine is light and tastes sweet.
So next time you are visiting this beautiful place, make sure to try the local food and partake in some homemade rice beer.
By Payel Bhattacharjee
Picture Credit: Saif Khan