Fish is a common component in the diet of people of Tripura, especially among the tribals. As the North East is blessed with natural resources and water, small fish are easily available in the streams around the village. Tribals love to stick around during monsoons in the lush green forests with small waterfalls in search of fresh small fish. They capture enough fish using a net that they can use it in small qualities for the entire year. These fish are not only rich in protein and Omega 3 but they also taste delicious. Some of Tripura delicacies which include small fish are ‘Godok‘ and ‘Eggu‘.
Godok and Eggu are made with turmeric leaves as an important ingredient. Turmeric acts as a seasoning for the dishes and adds fragrance to them. These turmeric plants are homegrown and are also used to worship gods besides cooking. Kaching is another type of homegrown spice. There are 19 tribal communities in Tripura and people of the Debbarma community are famous for the spices in their cooking, Kaching being one of them. It is also used for cooking fish, and even chicken and pork. It adds flavour to their dishes and its fragrance can be smelt from miles away.
The tribals of Tripura, however, refrain themselves from adding excessive spices to their food. They say it disrupts the taste of the food. Small fish, when added to regular dishes, make them even tastier and lip smacking.
Local food items are the best as they complement the environment and lifestyle of people who have embodied these food items into their culture. It not only supports the local economy, but also promotes a safer food supply within that region. It is always advisable to seek for fresh and local produce and even try to produce some of them yourself. It reduces the amount of energy, pesticides, and herbicides when it’s homegrown and is far better than marketplace organic labels. Thus, these food options are less costly to the natural environment and are safe for consumption.
About the author: Samir Debbarma lives in the Khowai district of Tripura. He has finished his graduation and is currently looking for a job in the government. His dream is to become a police officer. In his free time, he likes listening to Hindi classical music and practice art.
All images have been provided by the author.