Starting this week onward we bring you a new series named Ethnic Food Tour series that catalogues our food explorations across the diverse and rich tribal panorama of our country and beyond.
It commences with the rustic cuisine of the Rabha tribe from Bongaigaon, Assam. Their meal is hued with unique earthy notes as they are primarily procured from the forests. For this, we visited the Ujan Rabhapara village in Kakoijana in Bongaigaon district of Assam along with our brilliant hosts Chayanika, Sishir, and Risha whose insights helped us to get familiar with the new culture with ease.
En route to the village, we stopped at a local household to try the traditional Assamese jolpan. It is the umbrella term for the traditional breakfast dishes that the locals relish daily. The eclectic range of dishes under the jolpan are primarily rice-based. We tried the most elementary of them i.e. the sira doi gur and boondi laddo. It was such a comforting combination.
After a short drive, we reached Ujan Rabhapara, a place known for white langurs. Nestled amidst the green canopy of the Kakoijana forest expanse, this quaint sleepy village is home to the Rabhas.
Along with our hosts Chayanika, Sisir, Risha, and Sanjib Sharma we meet the welcoming womenfolk of the village who had gathered to cook a traditional Rabha meal for us. Since agriculture-based activity is the mainstay of their livelihood, naturally their cuisine is dominated by the components procured from the same.
Hence it is not a surprise that it includes rice which is the staple, various local herbs, meats, fish, and insects. Bugs and insects like silkworms, red ants, grasshoppers, etc. are considered to be delicacies.
Another important element of the Rabha cuisine is the local rice beer that is brewed in almost all households and is consumed not occasionally but daily.
During our explorations, we tried some of their delicacies that are prepared at the households on a regular basis. The highlights of the meal were chokoth rice beer, country chicken cooked with rice flour batter and silkworm, and red ant eggs. We are truly grateful to our amazing hosts for serving us such a unique meal with so much enthusiasm and patience.