New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Amid a rock music battle, demonstrations and walks through a traditional herb-based northeastern cuisine mark the onset of a three-day cultural fiesta that kicked off at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) here on Friday.
The North East Festival, currently in its sixth edition, presents an experiential combination of art, food, dance, drama, music and fashion.
Assamese chef Sneha Saikia, who prepared a variety of traditional foods, spoke of the region’s cuisine while demonstrating a Sikkimese dish — Sel Roti.
The simple, vegetarian dish, consisting of a sweet, donut-shaped bread made from rice flour and jaggery, and black sesame pickle, is prepared with a herb-based approach common across northeast India.
“Our food is more herb-based, rather than being spice-based; most of our foods are high on medicinal value,” Saikia told IANS.
“We also don’t have tastes like khattha-meetha (sour-sweet), but alkaline or astringent, or other flavours,” she said, in an open ground full of northeastern food stalls, each selling what their state eats most.
Adding that many ingredients are common to most foods, she took the audience through some of them.
They are: Thekera, a saline-sour flavouring agent; King chili, the tangiest chilli in the region that causes burning sensations when touched; and Elephant Apple, Wild Basil flower, Anishi, and Mezinga, among others.
The Delhi-based Saikia also stressed that the myth around northeastern food being just pork or beef should be busted.
“The whole idea of having a demonstration with ingredients was to give people a glimpse of the vast culinary repository of the region,” she said.
Stalls like Nagaland’s Kitchen, Lotha Naga Food Stall, Pakghor, and others, are presenting their state’s cuisine at the festival.
What’s more is that the gathering of cuisiniers, aesthetes, musicians and dancers, also has many handcrafted decor items and clothes on sale, along with organic food products.
The festival, which is yet to see more visitors, also has a vibrant music line-up.
Among those performing are Bollywood singer Papon, who is from Assam’s Guwahati.
Others include rapper Khasi Bloodz, Classical Rock band Still Waters, Naga folk band Tetseo Sisters, Arunachali folk band Omak Komut Collective, Neel Akash, Zubeen Garg, and rapper Rahul Rajkhowa, among others.
A fashion show, complemented by a photography exhibition, will see line-ups by Bompie Riram, Ejjaya and Barsha Aditya Singh.
The festival will run from October 26-28.