Singpho Food

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The Singphos are scattered across the Patkai range, stretching from Margherita subdivision and Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh to parts of Myanmar and Yunnan province of China. The lifestyle of the tribe, described by several British chroniclers as the fiercest, is unique. The Singphos are divided into four classes namely, Shangai, Myung, Lubrung and Mirip.
The Singphos use the most basic ingredients in their food preparations. Pork, fish and chicken cooked in various styles with indigenous herbs are served with steamed ‘Maytong’ rice (a kind of glutinous rice), accompanied by various chutneys.
Pungkhong sat, pasa, kumusi, wu hkawng, sat sapung or khawlam, some of the traditional Singpho dishes that one can expect to be served during a visit to any village of the tribe. Pasa, a fish soup containing wild herbs and traditional spices, is another novelty.
The flavour Singpho food gets comes from two main herbs, mazegya paat and machang paat. These are thorny herbs found locally. The seeds of mazegya called mazegya guti are also grounded and used. No oil is used in the dishes and ginger, garlic, onion, coriander and bamboo shoot (both wet and dried) are the main spices along with traditional herbs and chillies.
Most of the Singpho dishes are made of naturally grown products and the spices we use for preparing the dishes have several medicinal benefits and no side-effects. Kumusi, which is a potpourri of wild mushrooms, potatoes and a sticky kind of rice cooked inside the hollow of a bamboo. Wild mushrooms and the species of bamboo in which the rice is to be cooked are available only between March and August.
Rice Beer, or Beer made from fermented boiled roots is not merely a favourite drink of The Singhpho, but also a sacred libation for the spirits.
Tea is also heritage drink of Singpho’s. Local Tribal Singpho chief, Bisa Gaum helped Robert C A Bruce in 1823, to discover Assam variety of Tea Plant ‘Camelia Sinesis Var Assamica’. The Singphos have known and drunk tea long before the Englishmen discovered it.

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Bijit Dutta

Travel Organic, Live Organic, Act Organic

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