Translated from Kokborok by Manisha Debbarma
Clams are a form of edible molluscs that are found and eaten in many parts of the world. In Tripura, it is considered a delicacy among the indigenous population due to its seasonal nature.
Clams are widely found in the water bodies of Tripura, be it ponds, lakes, or rivers. Known locally as “sindai” in Kokborok, it is a part of the diet of the indigenous communities and can be prepared as a chutney, curry, or fried dish. For today’s recipe, we shall be focusing on a simple yet tasty clam dish using organic brinjal and locally available ingredients.
Here are the ingredients required to make the sindai dish:
Firstly, the clams are boiled for about twenty minutes after which they will begin to open up. The stove is then shut off and cooled for five minutes before taking out the clams and extracting the meat inside. This meat needs to be washed thoroughly with clean water to make sure that all dirt and sand is removed. Then we cut the meat into smaller pieces and keep it aside in a bowl.
The brinjals are then washed and diced into smaller pieces, so they cook well. Then the ginger and garlic are peeled, and a paste is made after adding dry red chilli and whole jeera. In tribal homes, where mixer-grinders are not available, we still use a “pataputa” to grind the masala. Pataputa consists of two heavy stones; one is a flat stone, and the other is a roller. The raw ingredients are placed on the flat rock, and the roller is used for crushing them into a paste.
The stove/gas is lit, and a kadhai is placed on it. Once it is hot, cooking oil is poured in it. After a few minutes of heating the oil, the masala paste along with the chopped onion is added to it. The masalas are fried for a few minutes and clams are added and mixed well with the sizzling masala. Salt is added, and we let it cook for a few minutes.
Next, the diced organic brinjal are mixed in. The brinjal takes about 30 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes of cooking, we add some chopped coriander and mix it well, and the dish is ready!
Clams are a good source of proteins and minerals, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Clams are also an excellent source of iron, zinc, selenium and B12. The Tripuri style of cooking is very healthy and nutritious as it uses less oil and masalas. It also uses mostly organic vegetables and locally-sourced ingredients that can be grown in the kitchen gardens.
If you are cooking clams at home, do try out this Tripuri style of cooking and let me know what you think of it! How do you cook clams in your community?
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.