Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Local delicacies from Ema Keithel, Imphal

It has been a crazy month in many ways. And that coupled with the fact that my PC sort of gave up on me meant no way to blog really, except over the phone – not a pleasant experience by any means. But that is not to say that we have not been eating well or not experimenting with food. Spring is my favourite season and the best time of the year to enjoy outdoor meals, picnics, tending to the kitchen garden, and trying out new things :) I have only recently learnt about Navroz – a festival celebrating spring. Navroz as I learnt has its origins in Persian and Zoroastrian cultures, and it is celebrated in many parts of South and Central Asia. I am really excited to try out a couple of great Navroz recipes that I have collected from the web and would be sharing my experiments with you all shortly.

The other great thing is that Len is back from Manipur after a long break and we have lots of goodies stocked up in the pantry. All of these are from the all-women's market in Imphal, known as Ema Keithel. These are all local preparations of the maiteii community, locally made mostly by women in their homes. Rice puffs, jaggery, and sesame seeds are essential ingredients.

From left to right

1. Sweet-and-sour tamarind lumps. These are great after a heavy meal and help in cleansing the palate.

2.Puff rice and jaggery discs. Very similar to the Bengali moa, the only difference I find is in its unusual shape.

3. Puff rice powder balls. A perfect accompaniment with a cup of sweet tea infused with ginger.

4. Jaggery and peanut discs. Very similar to gurpatti, very common in northern India.

5.Jaggery and peanut lumps. Very similar to the discs (no.4) but better. These are nuttier and have soft sweet flavour. I can pop ten of these and eat them in a single sitting!

6.Sesame discs. The most unusual of the entire lot, this one is a total winner. It has black sesame seeds and jaggery. The texture is nutty and yet it has a lovely melt-in-the-mouth flavour.

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