The people of Arunachal Pradesh love their rice. It is eaten as a main course, as a snack in the form of a steamed cake enfolded in leaves (locally called ‘Dung Po’) and even as a cereal for breakfast. Rice forms such an integral part of their culture that in the Galo tribe, it is smeared on peoples faces when they celebrate the Mopin festival.
‘Dung Po’ (Steam Rice) is the most popular rice dish. Two brass utensils are used for cooking it. The inner pot is bottomless and rice is filled in a pocket of leaves to secure it from scattering and the outer pot is filled with water to generate steam to cook the rice. The cooked rice is wrapped in leaves and served.
‘Kholam’ is also another popular process of cooking rice. In this method a bamboo tube is used instead of metal utensils. The rice is filled with water in a custom-made bamboo tube, which is left beside the traditional fireplace with enough heat to cook it. Before eating the rice, the outer layer of the bamboo tube is delicately broken.
‘Wungwut Ngam’ (Chicken with rice powder) is a delicious dish of chicken with rice powder. Rice is toasted till brown and then ground to powder. This is then cooked with chicken and flavored with indigenous spices and left to slow cook.
‘Pasa’, a fish soup is very popular in the state. The fish is minced and then mixed with ingredients like garlic, ginger, chilly and indigenous spices and herbs. The juice of a local leaf called ‘ooriam’ (Khumpatt) is added to the fish mixture. This gives the soup made of this mixture a greenish color. It is said that during the time of war, tribal soldiers cooked this soup instead of cooking a whole meal that would have revealed their hideouts.
Cooking on stone is another unique cooking method of the tribes. ‘Ngatok’ is a popular fish dish cooked on stone. The fish are sliced into small pieces and marinated with indigenous spices and herbs and cooked on stone.
Green leafy vegetables, tubers, bamboo shoot and indigenous herbs are widely consumed by the people of the state. Their most favored meat is that of the mithun, which is considered a delicacy and an important part of the cuisine of any occasion or festival.
‘Apong’ is a local beer made from fermented rice. It is made over a period of 3-months and includes the processes of drying, smoking, fermenting and filtering. It is served in a bamboo shoot at room temperature. ‘Apong’ is sweet, malty, spicy, and quite potent.