Have you heard of Berma? And have you ever had hot dogs of the canine kind? For a culinary adventure that’s closer to home than you’d imagine, head to Tripura!
Tripura, the remotest of the seven Northeastern states of India is also one of the most picturesque. It is also the state least explored by foreign tourists. Tripura is an idyllic place to travel and has rolling green valleys, and dense woods.
Do you enjoy experimenting with food? Apart from its pristine beauty, Tripura is known for its simple way of life and its well preserved local culinary culture, which is different from the rest of India. Since the state comprises of many tribal groups the food is as diversified as the state.
If you love non-vegetarian food, you will love Tripura! People in Tripura usually eat fish and rice (Mai), probably a result of their close proximity to West Bengal. It is surprising to note that even though the people of Tripura have given up their traditional attire they have not been able to discard their traditional cuisine.
The traditional cuisine is called Mui Borok. A key ingredient in Tripura cuisine is Berma, a dried and fermented puthi fish. This has an unpleasant odor and flavor when raw, but when cooked, its flavor is mouthwatering and adds to the dish’s taste. In Tripura Berma is considered a type of spice to be added to every dish that is cooked. Tripura cuisine is healthy as most of it is made without oil. A majority of dishes contain bamboo shoots, which are considered good for health. So you can eat all you like and not feel too guilty!
The people of Tripura use different kinds of rice and some of them are Maisa, Mami and Guriya. They eat all kinds of meats including pork, chicken, mutton, beef, turtle, fish, crabs, prawns, frogs and for the brave-hearted, even dogs. In fact, horrific as it may sound to the uninitiated, frogs’ legs and dog meat are actually a delicacy here. Some tribes in neighboring Nagaland enjoy this exotic cuisine as well. Some of the vegetables that are used in daily cooking are pumpkin, bamboo shoots, brinjals, corn and chillies.
A word of advice, since there are no pure vegetarian dishes (even vegetarian dishes have Berma!) – it would be good to tell the cook that you need a dish without Berma. Non-vegetarians have a variety and can have an assortment of delicacies to taste during their stay in Tripura. So here’s wishing the traveler to Tripura ‘Bon Appetit’!
Did you know that frogs and turtles were a delicacy in Tripura before reading this feature? Have you tried any exotic cuisines in India or abroad? Tell us about the weirdest food experience you have ever had!