Since prehistoric times, man has learned to consume various things for survival and sometimes, this included snails, too. Humans have consumed snails for thousands of years in the past and it comes as no surprise that they continue to do so. Heliciculture is the practice of snail farming for the purpose of earmarking them for human use, mostly as food. Tribals in Tripura have a separate space in their meal for snails. It is high in protein and other nutrients, and its consumption is more as a homemade regular dish than a delicacy.
Snails are found throughout the year and there is no specific season to find snails in Tripura. Tripura has a rich cultural heritage of 19 different tribal communities. These communities love consuming snails as a part of their diet. Snails can be easily found in freshwater streams around the village or in the waterbed at the bottom of the hills.
All these snails collected from different places taste different in their entirety and are often cooked with different recipes. While tribes believe in handpicking and collecting them, these snails are also sold in tribal markets nowadays. They are not only famous among the tribes, but even the non-tribals have started consuming them for their taste and nutritional values.
Mui Borok, one of the dishes which is common in the tribal households of Tripura, includes snails as an important ingredient in it. It is made with ash gourd, as people believe it is the best suitable vegetable which enhances its flavour and its fragrance increases appetite. Ash gourds are available from April to October and this is the best time to make the dish. Everyone is free to add any vegetables they like while preparing Mui Borok. It is easy to make as it does not require excessive ingredients and spices. Tribals of Tripura are so fond of this mouth-watering and lip-smacking combination that they wait each year for the ash gourd season to prepare Mui Borok.
Snails, as strange as it sounds to the people living outside of the North-East, is a part of the history, culture and lifestyle in Tripura’s tribes. They are surely unique and truly something to try at least once in life. The North-East is full of overwhelmingly beautiful nature and impressive culture which they have preserved through their foods and much of which is still undiscovered and unknown to people living outside of the North-East.
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.