Translated from Kokborok by Hamari Jamatia
Awang Sokorang, a favorite dish among locals in Tripura, makes its presence felt by diffusing a soft aroma that spreads from the kitchen to the rest of the house. It is enough to take one on a trip down memory lane, of festivals and gatherings of the past. Made from a special type of sticky rice called Goriya mairung, it is prepared mostly during festivals as a treat to make the event more memorable.
What makes Goriya mairung so special apart from its taste and aroma is that fact that it is so delicate and rare. The rice is grown in fields as well as jhum cultivation only once a year. In addition, its yield is less compared to other types of rice, meaning that the annual production is low. Hence, this famously delicious rice is always short on supply, making it a delicacy that is only prepared on special occasions and that too by experienced cooks.
A little mistake in calculating the amount of water can change its consistency from fluffy to mushy. Indigenous people, therefore, steam it so that it soaks enough moisture without losing its shape. Here is a time-tested recipe from an indigenous kitchen.
To make this dish, we need sticky rice, mustard oil, Salt to taste, diced onion and finely chopped ginger. To cook it, first, the goriya mairung needs to be cleaned well. This can be done by sifting it on a bailing (a round flat tool as seen in the picture) and picking out all the husks and grit from it. Next, the rice is shifted to a bowl and soaked for 20-30 minutes.
Two pots/pans are required for the cooking. One is a special earthen pot with a small round hole punctured at the bottom so that the steam can enter it. Second is a steel pan on which this pot can sit snugly. The steel pan is filled halfway with water for steaming.
While the rice is soaking, a small “yamphura” has to be woven using thin strips of bamboo. This square shaped yamphura prevents the rice from falling into the water container through the hole at the bottom.
After the rice has been soaked for 20-30 minutes, strain it well. Mix salt, mustard oil, ginger, and onion to the rice and mix well. Now place a banana leaf and the yamphuraat the bottom of the earthen pot. Then pour the rice mix into the pot. Shut the lid of the earthen pot tightly. To avoid the water from the steel pot from leaking, a piece of cloth is wound around it. Let the rice steam for 30-40 minutes. After that, it is ready to be served.
Tripuri people of all communities eat sticky rice with dry fish chutney or mosodeng. The combination of the tasty rice and the hot chutney is considered to complement each other.
The rice is made when important guests visit. It is also made during Goria puja (the supreme deity of Borok people) and Hojagiri (the day when goddess Maluma is worshipped). People sometimes grind it into powder, mix it with sugar and a type of palm called Taal to fry it into tasty sweet patties.
You could also try cooking a version of this at home, let me know how it tastes. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do!
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.