Nestled on the banks of Umiam lake, a mere 25 kilometres from Shillong, is the luxurious Ri Kynjai resort (daily, 11am-8pm; 9862420300). The location is spectacular and so, I recently discovered, is the food. Enjoy a well-muddled mojito on the veranda while you wait for your meal to be served in the restaurant area inside (be warned, the resort charges a cover for eating in the restaurant if you’re not an in-house guest) and take in a poetic twilight view of vast silvery waters.
My jastem (rice cooked with turmeric and herbs) was fluffy and light, a good accompaniment to the hearty doh sniang syrwa ( pork stew) that included fragrant chunks of squash along with the usual cabbage and mustard leaves. The meat was extremely tender, and was well complemented by a shredded cucumber and black sesame salad and a bowl of smoked tomato crushed with coriander, chilli and onion. The Cherrapunjee chicken here was also excellent, with a peppery flavour, and cooked through to the bone.
Head the other way, toward Cherrapunjee, and you can stop at Mylliem. Ask for Kong Duh’s jadoh stall (daily, 8am-11pm), which is a tiny one-room affair, with a Seng Khasi calendar and a sooty shilliah (woven bamboo) ceiling. While they offer the usual variety of curries and meat, the meal to try here is a plate of rice with light, watery dal, fiery stuffed red chilli pickle and as many pieces of doh shiang (mince beef balls) as you can possibly eat.
The doh shiang is gently spiced and fried and so tender it crumbles in your hand. The ladies here also sell the best smoked meat in the area and bottles of chilli and bamboo shoot pickle. Further ahead, about a twenty-minute drive away, is Laitlyngkot, a small village famous for its doh sniang (pork) and doh snier snam (pig’s intestines stuffed with herbed blood and toss-fried with onions and spices).