The Olympic and Commonweath medalist Mirabai Chanu turns 28 today. As an athlete who needs to maintain a certain weight for her events and stick to strict diet plans, she gets to indulge in her favourite food rarely. Everyone has a special connection to the cuisine of their homeland and the star athlete is no different. Hailing from Manipur, Chanu loves the local food of the state. Afterall, Manipuri cuisine has so much to offer! Let us look at some of the star dishes of this lesser-known gem called the Manipuri cuisine.
Eromba – Manipuri cuisine is incomplete without fish and this dish is one of the most popular fish-based foods in the state. A type of fish called Ngari is fermented and it is boiled along with a heap of vegetables. When the mixture becomes like a paste, it is garnished with coriander or parsley and maroi.
Singju – This delicious salad is one to die for. It is made with cabbage, coriander leaves, onions, ginger. Lotus stem, Singju leaf & more vegetables. You can find papaya, banana flower, chili powder & other herbs, etc. in this salad. Unlike a regular greek or caesar salad, Singju has a lot more variety of veggies, making it healthier and more nutritious.
Aloo Kangmet – If the West has mashed potatoes, Manipur has an equally amazing aloo kangmet. This simple potato dish, made by boiling potatoes and mashing them with mustard oil and spices is served as a side dish with rice or other staple food items.
Paknam – Manipur’s own savoury pancake, this breakfast or evening snack dish is prepared with a batter of gram flour or besan, fermented Ngari, lots of locally found herbs and vegetables and chilli. The batter is wrapped in a banana leaf and then steamed.
Nga Thongba – Like we already mentioned, fish is the most favourite dish cooked and eaten in almost every meal in Manipur, especially among the Meitei tribe. This is the popular fish curry, where it is cut into small bite sized pieces and seasoned with pepper and herbs. Nga thongba is served with steamed rice.
Chak- hao Kheer – This kheer, made with black sticky rice is famous for its medicinal properties. It is a constant companion of every major festival in the state. Chak hao kheer is made with rice, milk and cardamom and topped with a variety of dry fruits.
With a cuisine as vast and alluring as Manipuri, no wonder birthday girl Mirabai Chanu loves the food cooked in her state.