Blessed with unparalleled natural beauties like hills, mountains, forests, and waterfalls, Jharkhand is popularly known as ‘The Land of Forests’. It is an ultimate destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. A few months back we were here to explore the food culture in the cities of Ranchi, Jamshedpur, and Dhanbad.
We decided to start our food tour in the state from a very special Adivasi restaurant called Ajam Emba since it has a substantial indigenous population. Run by rural development professional turned entrepreneur Aruna Tirkey, the restaurant is one of the best and very few places in the capital city that serves authentic tribal cuisine. Ajam Emba is a phrase that means 'very tasty' in Kudukh language belonging to the Oraon tribe. Aruna Ji started the place with the vision to revive the wholesome tribal cuisine and introduce it to the mainstream. Apart from providing an exquisite gastronomic experience, it also promotes small and big indigenous entrepreneurs.
The tastefully done shorai paintings add a rustic charm to this place. The place is run by a women-dominant team from tribal hinterlands, who are adept in both cooking and other indigenous art forms like music, dance, and painting. We were greeted with a joyful folk song and hadiya which is one of their traditional drinks. After the second round of folk songs, the very gracious Aruna Ji led us to the kitchen to witness the traditional style cooking of a few of the dishes from the menu. She and the ladies in the kitchen introduced us to so many new and lesser-known ingredients. The meal was prepared in earthenwares over a wood fire. Not only that, keeping the sustainability concern in mind, the food here is served in leaf plates and bowls kept on wicker baskets.
A short while after the meal preparation began we were bowled over by such earthy and comforting aromas that we have never registered before. For starters we had ragi momo, marh jhor bhaat and chawal ki chai. The main course was ragi and chawal ka chilka with mutton handi and dal pitha . For dessert we had juicy dumbu pitha. What followed was complete gluttony. The eating experience was interspersed with stories and anecdotes about the culture and way of life.
So if you are a cultural culinary explorer like us then we highly recommend this place. Heartfelt thanks to the lovely team for the warm hospitality.