Tripura’s cuisine is a combination of a variety of different eating habits across the 19 tribes of the states. The dishes eaten in each tribe depend on the region, culture and local resources. One of the local favorite dishes is called Muimasing Mosideng (pigeon pea bharta/Bhurta), which is a spicy dish, spicier than an average dish in the Indian subcontinent. For a long time now, this spicy dish has been one of the most common seasonal food items on their menu. In Tripura, all the tribal communities prepare this particular dish.
Pigeon pea seeds can also be grown in a home garden; we don’t need any particular type of land for growing it. Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) are healthy legumes and are a good source of protein and the pods, too, along with being rich in high fibre and mineral content and being low-fat.
Before preparing mosideng (bharta), the peas are washed with clean warm water to remove the sticky substances present on the pea pods. Green chilli, fermented fish, salt and pigeon peas are the four ingredients used for making this spicy dish. In the olden days, only the rotten fish and salt were bought from the market, the rest of the ingredients, i.e. the pigeon pea pods and green chilli, were collected either from the jhum fields or the home garden. Green chilli is the most important ingredient here; without that the dish can’t be prepared.
After cleaning and washing the pea pods, the chilli and rotten fish are roasted and crushed. The pea pods are boiled for at least 20 minutes, and the water is drained out. The boiled pea pods are then mixed with the chilli and rotten fish paste.
Instead of the pigeon pea pods, one can also prepare tomato and potato bharta (mosideng) by following the same steps as mentioned above and enjoy a taste of Tripuri tribal cuisine. The tribals in my village eat this dish regularly, at least 5 times a week.
Usually when one eats bharta (mosideng), one sweats a lot because of its spice. Sometimes, it’s so spicy that the mouth starts burning, but that’s the way the dish is meant to taste. Many people from across the country visit Tripura to try this dish out, although some of them cannot seem to tolerate the amount of spice.
Even though it is spicy, this dish is very healthy and the word about the dish is spreading. A lot of Bengali communities in Tripura have also begun to cook and enjoy this dish. If you visit Tripura, trying this dish out should be on your top 5 list!
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.