Guest blog, courtesy of  A chain of London based, Indian restaurants.

Cherrapunji is a town located in the south-east region of the Khasi Hills, in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is renowned for its reputation as one of the wettest inhabited towns on Earth and as the Indian city that experiences the most rainfall in the country.

In fact, Cherrapunji has recorded some of the highest rates of rainfall in the country, with 9,300mm in just one month back in 1861 and a whopping 26,461mm in a year from August 1860 to July 1861. The months of May through to August in Cherrapunji are when the heaviest rains hit with stormy, cloud-filled skies and thundering deluges that can last for days. Due to the location of Cherrapuni, perched on a high and unprotected plateau, the rains spell disaster for agricultural endeavours. The soil quality is poor as the rains wash the nutrients away and crops struggle to grow on this elevated ground. However, the rain-drenched valleys that stretch far into the hills are lush with green vegetation and sub-tropical forest.

The cuisine of the Khasi

This region is home to the tribal people known as the Khasi. Just like in many parts of India, the cuisine of the local people is closely linked to the land. The rich valley lands yield plenty of rice that forms the staple of Khasi cuisine, whilst the livestock that graze in the lush surrounds are another important part of the daily diet.

Interestingly, Cherrapunji is renowned for its predilection for Chinese food and you can find steamed momos and noodles in abundance in this region. Rice is consumed at every meal but is also fermented to create beer or spirits – beverages that are integral to religious events and ritual ceremonies.

The most important meat to the khasi people is pork, although red meat such as mutton also features in a number of dishes and fish is widely consumed, too. Vegetables are cooked simply – in fact, there is more of a cultural preference for eating lots of wild herbs with meals. Both meat and vegetable dishes are flavoured with spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, bay leaves, pepper and plenty of chillies. However, the cuisine of the Khasi people is not as hot as in many other regions of India.

The pork meat dishes that form an intrinsic part of Khasi culture are varied. Simple preparations such as doh nei iong consist of chunks of cooked pork, the fat cooked to a crisp in perfect layers. More unusual delicacies include jadoh snam, a spiced rice dish with the addition of pig’s blood for added flavour. Additionally, dojem is a dry curry made with the liver, intestines and kidneys.

Doh kpu is a ground, red meat dish that can be eaten with rice or rolled into meatballs, whilst doh khlieh is a salad made with boiled pork and chillies.

Fish is often rubbed in salt, fried and flavoured with turmeric and other spices. Other vegetarian-friendly options include sohra pulao, a spiced rice recipe, and tungry bai, a fermented soy bean dish that allegedly smells like hell but tastes like heaven.

Pickles are also important in Cherrapunji and a wide range including those created with wild berries, fruits and tangy tamarind are on offer.

The cuisine of India is beautiful in its diversity, much like the menus of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants. Book yourself a table today to experience it for yourself.

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