So when this friend of mine, Sam, flew down to India for the first time, all that occupied his mind was Indian cuisine. The moment he stepped out of the customs, he ducked my arm and took me straight to the Star Bucks at Terminal 3.
He was curious to know if the native Latte tasted any different in India.
Duh! His obsessiveness with food not only surprised me but also filled me with a sense of pride. We Indians love feeding our guests. ‘Pet-Pooja’ (literal translation – stomach worship) is a daily ritual and we lovingly make anyone and everyone a part of it; therefore, when someone is so looking forward to grabbing a bite, how can an Indian commit the sin of saying a ‘’NO’’?
Being a typical Indian I was tempted to treat my friend to the indigenous delicacies my country had to offer. I casually asked him what he wanted to eat, expecting usual answers like Paani Puri, Chole Bhature and Chaat. But what followed left me amazed. Sam had done his homework well, and so much so that his eating wish-list included weirdest food items, some of which I hadn’t even heard of.
Even though I couldn’t treat Sam to his wish-list, I was thankful to him for this latest discovery of mine. And here I am, sharing the same with you. Listed below are five unusual food items found only in India (thank you, Sam).
Of the various stews and chuttnies found in India, this one is probably the weirdest. Chaprah is a significant part of every meal for the tribe of Chattisgarh. It gives their food that unique tangy tinge. But only if you knew what it’s made of. Red ants and their eggs! To prepare this chutney, red ants are dried and mixed with relevant salts and spices. This is followed by ample grinding and Chaprah is ready! Eat it with any meal (at your own discretion).
2. Forbidden Rice
(This one I definitely knew of). Popularly known as the Black Rice or Purple Rice, this variety of the staple is particularly popular in North East India (Manipur) and has wondrous health benefits. This unusual type of rice is black-coloured during harvesting, but turns purple after cooking. May be that’s why people call them Magic Rice! You can find this food preparation in other parts of the country as well, namely Kerala and North Bengal. It tastes best when served with a refreshing glass of coconut milk.
3. Baby Shark Curry
Those who have been to Goa must be familiar with the sight of baby shark in the waters there. But did you know, the same baby shark is the main ingredient of a star dish of the Goan cuisine? I am talking about the Baby Shark Curry. Sautéed in a mix of delectable sauces, this dish, just like all things unique, comes at a cost. The price of the dish reflects all the hard work the fishermen put in catching the fish, and all the sweat that the chefs loose in bringing out its lingering flavours.
4. Frog Legs
(I couldn’t even think about this one!) This is definitely unusual. The Lepchas community of Sikkim count Frog Legs amongst their favourite delicacies, and they have just the right reasons to do so. This dish has ample medicinal qualities and is known to cure several stomach related ailments. So if you are an experimental foodie, you can give this rare dish a try.
5. Eri Polu
If frog isn’t your thing, how about trying a silkworm? You read it right! Eri Polu is basically eri silkworm pupa, a famous food ingredient in Assam. Once the silkworm reaches the pupa stage of its life cycle, the silk is extracted by boiling the cocoon, while the leftover silkworm is prepared with Khorisa (grated bamboo shoot). The final dish has a strong aroma and literally melts in your mouth.
About Khyati Sehgal
Khyati Sehgal is a writer by passion and profession, who has writing about varied topics (Food, Fashion, Lifestyle, and Travel) for over four years. Besides writing, she does writing! She has authored a book which is currently under publication review. You can reach out to her on Twitter (@Sehgal_K).