Next in the list of states is Arunachal Pradesh, which is the largest among the North-east Indian states commonly known as the Seven Sister States. The name translates to "land of the dawn-lit mountains" and the cuisine varies within the region, depending on the tribal influences.
Beer made from fermented rice or millet is a popular beverage in this state. I decided to refer to the Monpa cuisine, which is one of the famous and popular cuisines of the Monpa Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
The traditional Monpa cuisine is known for its tastes and generous use of chilly and fermented cheese. Some of the famous dishes from this cuisine are Zan, Khura, Thukpa, Gyapa-Khazi, Momos. Other Monpa delicacies are Khatzi, Pua, Kyola, Kharang.Bak-Tza Margu.
With just a little backdrop on this cuisine, I will proceed on how I went about selecting the dish I finally did. Infact this state was one of the last ones to be made. The seven NE states have given all of us such a scare, with the scarcity of vegetarian options for us to make. And what little we found on the net, wasn't really reliable.
I was looking hard to select something that might fall under my chosen category. Well this cuisine, did seem to have a pancake and a special rice dish- Khura or Gyapa - Khazi. However reading on how these are prepared, made it very clear that I can't even attempt those at home.
And yes I didn't want to end up making a thukpa or Momos.
Although I didn't find much that I could actually cook from this cuisine, I enjoyed reading the culture and history of this beautiful state. Though the end of it, I was left wondering if I would ever be able to survive if I travel to these places.
I came across this travelogue by Aditya, who writes in detail on his experience traveling through this place. Though this again hardly gave me anything to try, it got me visualizing the place.
Finally, when I was reading on Tawang Cuisine, did I find a dish that I could right away make. I read about the Losar Festival. I researched further and read more about this festival.
Losar is the Tibetan word for "new year" and is celebrated by Buddhists Worldwide. The Buddhist population in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal, and Ladakh in Kashmir celebrates this festival in India.
So from this, I checked out Khapse, the fried biscuit that finds an important place during the Losar festival. I referred to this site for more details on making these fried biscuits and the importance is in making them in different shapes. There are a couple of other interesting videos. I just stuck to this and made it for snacks.
The recipe calls for four cups of flour, I made with just two and later realized I should have used four. The biscuits disappeared before I could even though through the process. I saved some for Hubby dear and he asked what difference were these, except for those cute shapes. Yes, these tasted almost like the Maida Biscuits I make.
Apart from the sources I have already credited, there were few other sites that are no longer live. So had to remove the links to those sites.
I finally found this recipe which also had a video and found it easy to do the different shapes.
Making of the dough
Kneading the dough and resting
Rolling as you do regular rolling
The different shapes that are made during this festival
Khapse ~ Deep Fried Traditional Biscuits from Arunachal Pradesh
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 - 3 tbsp Cooking Oil
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Sugar as per your taste
- 1/2 cup Milk or as required
- 1 quart Sunflower Oil for deep frying
How to make Khapse
- Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of warm water.
- In a wide bowl, take the flour, add cooking oil, slowly add the milk.
- Mix everything together and knead to a soft dough.
- Pinch out big balls, dust, and roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you don't use a lot of flour as it will dunk more oil.
- Cut the dough in strips (maybe about an inch or a little less), then cut those strips into diagonal pieces. Try to make the pieces roughly the same size, so that they can cook at the same rate. Slice a slot in the middle of each piece of dough.
- Pull one corner of the piece of dough through the slot in the middle, creating a twist. Pull the two ends of your nyapsha a little to even out the shape a bit. Once you have a batch ready, heat the cooking oil.
- Make sure the oil is hot enough. Then, slowly slide the Khapse making sure you don't splash the hot oil. Fry in batches and do not crowd the oil.
- Cook the khapse on medium, making sure it is cooked all through. Then, remove with a slotted spoon on to kitchen towel.
- If you have not added much sugar in the dough, you can sprinkle some powdered sugar if you like. But, these are normally as such with sweet tea or Tibetan tea.
- Store the khapse in an air-tight container and you can keep them quite a while, though they do of course get hard over time. But, everything got over the moment it was served.
- The khapse is usually made as the nyapsha (split fish), which is made of dough rolled out like a length of rope, coiled flat and then stretched out. The bulug is a flat circular khapsay made up of crisp.