From The Khasi Kitchen

From The Khasi Kitchen
A traditional Khasi meal, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A beginner’s guide to eating your way through Meghalaya

Roshni Subramanian
April 04 , 2020
07 Min Read

Set atop a dramatic formation of rocky cliffs, ravines and valleys, Meghalaya is endowed with an incredible landscape making it an ideal getaway for those seeking a retreat that’s off the beaten path. Nestled amidst white clouds and mist, this north eastern beauty predominantly consists of three hills, namely, Khasi, Garo and Jaintia, with each region boasting their own unique culinary tradition. The delectable cuisine here, much like the state itself is shrouded in mystery. Cut off from the mainstream Indian grub, it’s the Khasi style of cooking that has grabbed the eyeballs. While smoking and fermenting play a major role in typical Khasi fare, it is essentially considered minimalistic. Largely made up of spicy, flavourful meat and fish preparations usually accompanied with rice, interestingly, vegetables take a back seat when it comes to Khasi food. Here’s a quick tour of what the cuisine entails and what you ought to try on your next Meghalayan adventure. 


Jadoh, a rice-based Khasi delicacy

The traditional jadoh of the Khasi tribe is the Meghalayan equivalent of a pulao or biryani. Made with short grain red rice called joha rice and pork, the meat is slowly cooked with an array of aromatic spices. The smokiness of the pork, richness of the spices and caramelised onion results in a preparation drenched in flavour. If you’re up for an adventure (disclaimer: not for the faint-hearted), we’d suggest giving the jadoh snam a shot, a delicacy cooked in pork blood and enjoyed by the locals. An extremely popular dish during Khasi festivals, the villages of Meghalaya offer the most authentic version of the dish.


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A typical Khasi pork dish, Dohkileh could definitely qualify as one of the most extreme foods to come out of Meghalaya. Essentially, a pork salad, it is made using the best of local produce. It consists of pig brains cooked in curry and usually accompanied with flat bread. Often topped with lettuce leaves, tomatoes, beans, scallions, chives and zesty lemon, the boiled and diced pork, mixed with finely chopped onions , green chillies, ginger and local seasoning add on to the rustic taste. Though a simple pork salad on the face of it, everyone has their own style of preparing it. 


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In Khasi tradition, pork is considered a meat for all seasons. And honestly we aren’t surprised. Adding another gem to the list of delectable pork preparations that Meghalaya has to offer, the Dohneiiong sure is hard to resist. One of the most colourful, palatable and decorative dishes of the Khasi culinary tradition, Dohneiiong is a gravy based pork dish cooked in black sesame seed paste. With a distinct earthy flavour, it’s a pork lovers delight.


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Rice is an integral part of this tribal cuisine and a popular ingredient throughout Meghalaya. So, it comes as no surprise that Pumaloi is one of the most widely enjoyed dishes here. Pumaloi literally means rice in the form of powder. This powder is later steamed and cooked in a pot called khiew ranei. These steamed rice cakes make for an ideal meal at any time, be it breakfast lunch or dinner. Stuffed with raw grated coconut, this delicacy reflects a unique part of the Khasi culture.


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Khasi cuisine doesn’t leave vegetarians with many options to explore. The simplest of dessert, pukhlein is a traditional Khasi rice flour snack and is relished with the main items to soothe the palate. Often compared with the Keralite delicacy nei appam and Tamil Nadu’s athirasam, this deep fried dessert mainly consists of two ingredients--rice flour and jaggery. Many even believe that your meal isn’t complete without gorging on some of these golden brown rice cakes. 


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