Northeast offers a variety of scrumptious street food options that goes beyond our all-time-favourites of momos and thukpas. Tourists and locals wandering around the region’s plains and valleys can find many wallet-friendly food options, served with generous helpings of chutneys, pickles and other condiments, made with indigenous herbs, fruits and vegetables.
1. Smoked Pork from Nagaland
A trip to Nagaland without tasting smoked pork is a trip gone waste. Crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside, this dish has a wonderful mix of delicately balanced flavours. It is definitely a low-cost, no-fuss option on the street. Heavily infused with ‘Bhoot Jolokia’ or Ghost Pepper, along with the state’s favourite bamboo shoots, it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Usually tossed dry, it can also be prepared with gravy and served steamed rice.
2. Thukpa from Arunachal Pradesh
A steaming bowl of thukpa is all one needs during monsoon and winter mornings. Flavoured with a hint of ginger and garlic, this noodle soup has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions. For meat lovers, this meal in a bowl is served on a base of shredded chicken, pork or mutton. For vegetarians, many seasonal vegetables are added to the broth. Hot, nutritious, whole some and affordable, thukpa is among the most popular street foods in Northeast.
3. Sanpiau from Mizoram
Bursting with flavours, and available in every nook and cranny of the state, Sanpiau is the Mizo rendition of Bhel Puri. Although rice porridge substitutes puffed rice, this dish packs a punch in terms of its simple, yet piquant flavours. Fish sauce, coriander paste, and finely sprinkled rice powder and onions, make this street food a perfect on-the-go snack as one discover scurios in Mizoram or just sits back to enjoy lazy Sunday afternoons.
4. Iromba from Manipur
Known to be a healthy food option, Irombais a hit amongst health freaks. With fermented fish, boiled potatoes and trademark red chillies, it can be gobbled in a matter of minutes. Mostly consumed as a side dish or a snack, the dish has a blend of fiery aromatic spices and flavours that cannot be found else where.
5. Momos from Sikkim
Native to Nepal and Tibet, the street food scene in the Northeast is incomplete without momos. With fried counterpart being greatly in demand, these light and white translucent nibbles need no introduction. Besides the original, staple chicken and pork varieties, new cousins have also made their ways. There are variations in the filling, as well as the wrap. Cheese, vegetable, paneer momos are available in most momo joints across the region. Served with an assortment of chutneys, fiery pastes and clear soup, we all know that momos rule.
6. Luci Bhaji/Aloo Sabji from Assam
A traditional Assamese dish, usually prepared at home for special guests or Sunday breakfasts, Luci has been adapted as a street food staple over the years. Simply prepared by frying plain flour puris (small roties), it is served piping hot with a potato curry. Crispy, light and fluffy, this simple snack remains a favourite among all age groups. Luci is also served with chicken, mutton or duck curries.
7. Fried Bamboo Shoot from Meghalaya
A grave misconception regarding Northeastern cuisine is that it does not offer many vegetarian options. On the contrary, the cuisine consists of an array of appealing vegetarian delicacies. Testimony to this is a popular local delight, fried bamboo shoot with local chillies. Fried with aromatic spices and fiery local red chillies, this dish is garnished with fenugreek and served as a side dish.
8. Chikhvi from Tripura
Chikhvi is a fine blend of several native Northeastern spices and flavours. It is basically pork cooked with bamboo shoots, but the smokiness of the two ingredients is what makes the dish appetising and unique. Served with sticky rice and the customary dried red chillies, this dish is worth a try.