Winters are just around the corner. The season has already crossed the threshold with a step now. While we are all preparing for the cold months in terms of clothing and footwear; the north-eastern states have started stocking on that Gundruk (fermented greens), sinki (fermented raddish), sukuti and sithra (fermented fishes), smoked meats and fresh green leafy vegetables. This preparation of foods will ensure a warm and illness-free winter in our region. Warm soups and hot beverages will become a staple now and things that are cool in their “TAASEER (urdu)” which translates to effects will take a back seat.
Temperatures in hilly regions of the state records temperatures as low as 7-8 degrees on a moderately cold day which is to say that it can drop much lower in the peak of the season. We are left with no choice but to eat warm foods. Usage of chillies for their heat will be a prime culinary process in most kitchens. We are guessing that this is the reason why the region was blessed with two of the hottest chillies in the Country. The Bhut Jolokia and the Dalle Chilli are two of the hottest chillies from the region. With a scoville heat unit of 1.35 million, these chillies are perfect sources of heat for the body that work internally and naturally.
People here have, at this point already stocked on firewood that will last them for this winters. If you visit NE in this season, by evening 4-5 pm, people will have started burning wood in an “angethi” to turn them into coals. Family members, friends and neighbours will sit around this angethi soaking up all the warmth as the room heats with everyone’s presence. To picture it like this, the one room with the angethi will be heavenly toasty and really warm and cozy in the winter evenings. And as the mother of the family brews some really warm herbal, aromatic and delicious teas for the younger people to sip on, the older members in the gathering slowly sip on some good rum saying it is “medicine for the winters”; this scenario feels like everything that is good and everything that is a winter pleasure.
For dinner, mother is going to cook an additional soup (which is a labour of love that is made from ingredients that build metabolism) along with the usual foods that we ate and that will ensure a sound warm sleep for the younger members in the family. Mother will be happy and assured that the children are sleeping with a warm belly and that is the small pleasures she gets in life that usually go unnoticed.
The soups that are popularly made in the north east of India usually involve lots of fresh organic veggies, lentils fresh meats, fermented ingredients etc. and not a lot of Masalas. This is to ensure that nothing but pure nutrition goes into the stomach. These soups are known to make a brilliant addition to the diet of people who plan on eating healthy. These soups will provide nutrition, get rid of toxins also keep you full and warm if that is what you plan to do in your diet plan.
So without further ado, let us explore the process of making some of the most popularly cooked soups from every state within the North East India. :
1. Sikkim- Churrpi Soup
In our journey with foods from the North east recently we explored Churrpi which is a Himalayan Cheese. Read more about this rare cheese from the Himalayas here: https://www.neorigins.com/churrpi-a-rare-himalayan-cheese/ . churrpi is made usually from Yak Milk, but one can always make it using Cow Milk as well. The crumbly cottage cheese like texture of the Churrpi is a treat to the mouth. Apart from the texture, the flavour of this tantalising ingredient is very hearty and addictive. Let us learn to make this Churrpi soup:
- One finely diced onion
- Half finely diced tomato
- 4 cloves of garlic roughly smashed.
- Coriander leaves roughly chopped
- 20 gms of crumbly churrpi
- 2 parted and roasted dalle chillies
- 4-5 sticks of beans thinly sliced for greens in the soup
- Lakadong turmeric to taste
- Salt to taste
- Start by adding 2-3 tablespoons of mustard oil into a pot and let that heat up.
- Now add the roasted chillies and the beans into the oil and let that sweat a little.
- Add the onions next and the tomatoes as well and let that sweat as well.
- Add the Lakadong Turmeric the salt to taste and the garlic cloves to the oil and let that cook for a bit.
- Now add the churrpi so to the oil and mix well so that the churrpi soften in texture. Let it sit in the pan on a low flame for about two minutes.
- Now add to the mix, 2 small bowls full of boiling water.
- Keep the flame at a medium low and let it boil well for about 5 minutes approximately.
- Now switch the gas off and add the chopped coriander leaves.
- Pour the churrpi soup in a small soup bowl along with the churrpi and enjoy the sour tangy and yet a wholesome flavour of the Churrpi soup.
2. Manipur- Chi Al Meh
Nothing healthier than a plain bowl of steaming veggie soup, in this case the Chi Al Meh from Manipur. This is a very satisfying and healthy vegetable soup that is fairly easy to prepare.
- Roughly chopped 2 whole onions
- Red capsicum thinly sliced remove the seeds
- Yellow capsicum thinly sliced remove the seeds
- Some mushrooms sliced into thin strings if possible
- 4-5 broccoli flowerets
- Sautéed spinach or mustard leaves ground to a puree consistency
- Thinly sliced beans
- 1 tablespoon Ing Makhir Ginger paste
- Dalle chilli paste one tablespoon
- Soy sauce one teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Start by heating 2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a pot.
- Now add all the vegetables the chilli paste, spinach puree, salt and the garlic paste all together and mix it well.
- Let that cook so that the vegetables start to lose some moisture into the pot, keep the flame at a low.
- Now add 3-4 bowls of boiling water to the mix and let that boil for 15-20 minutes on a low flame.
- After that, switch off the gas and add the soy sauce and give it a stir.
- Now pour the soup with its vegetable contents in a bowl and drink it as it or add a steaming bowl of rice to the soup to make it a complete meal, you could also add noodles instead. But the soup as it is very filling.
3. Nagaland- Awushi Kulha Soup
This soup does not require any oil for its preparation hence is a super continental and healthy. The ingredients used are seasonal and handpicked from the best harvest of the season.
- Chicken pieces cleaned and cut into small pieces
- Bamboo shoots raw and thinly sliced into sheets.
- Spinach roughly chopped
- Whole beans split from the middle
- 5 Garlic cloves roughly crushed
- Ing Makhir Ginger paste one tablespoonful
- 2 Bhut jolokia Chillies roasted and partially skinned then roughly chopped
- Salt to taste and
- Lakadong turmeric for a bit of color
- In a pot add the chicken pieces, bamboo shoots, garlic cloves and whole beans and let that sauté in the pot on a very low flame until these vegetables and the chicken start to lose a bit of moisture.
- Now add the ing makhir ginger paste, the Lakadong turmeric and the roasted chilies in the pot and mix the whole thing well… after a heavenly smell starts to engulf the air around, add the chopped spinach.
- Let the spinach loose its moisture as well and add the salt.
- Now add two bowls of boiling water to the mix and let it boil on a low flame with the lid covered for around 10-15 minutes so that the soup gets thicker and milkier and more flavorful.
- Now turn off the gas and pour the soup content in a bowl and enjoy!
4. Meghalaya- Syrwa Tit Soup
The soup from Meghalaya is a mushroom based soup so we have a polarized audience for this one. There are people who absolutely despise eating mushroom in any form and then there are people who would die for the flavor profile of Mushroom that is used in any form of food. We are definitely from the latter group of people.
- 3 cups of minutely diced mushrooms
- 14-15 cloves of garlic
- 4-5 green chilies
- Roughly chopped mustard leaves greens
- 2 tablespoonful butter
- Black pepper powder 1 tablespoonful
- Roughly chopped coriander leaves
- Salt to taste and
- 1 big bowl of boiling water.
- In a mixer grinder, grind the green chilies along with the garlic cloves so they make a rough paste.
- Now in a frying pan add the butter and let it heat. Now add the paste of garlic and chilies and let it cook well in this butter.
- Now add the mushrooms and let it sauté well in the butter.
- Now add the mustard greens into this mix and let that loose the moisture as well.
- Now add the black pepper as well as the salt and mix well and let it cook for some time on a low medium heat.
- Now add the warm boiling water to the mix and let that boil over a low flame for another 10-15 minutes so that the soup gets creamier in texture.
- Now turn the gas off and pour the coup along with the solid contents into a bowl and garnish with the chopped coriander leaves and serve hot!
These were 4 of the most popular soup recipes from 4 of the north eastern states of India. In our next series we will continue to learn about the most popular soup recipes from the rest of the 4 north East Indian states. Stay tuned and try these recipes in your kitchen and let us know how it was to you. Stay warm these winters and drink lots and lots of soup.
If you cannot find some ingredients to make these recipes in the nearby grocery stores, head to the www.neorigins.com website to order fresh ingredients sourced from authentic places from the North East.