13 May, 2021

How About A Crisp Dosa With Fermented Soy Beans And Fish Mash?

Bacteria aren’t that bad and nature shows us how to put them to good use through fermented foods

Hill Comfort
Down a Naga fermented spread with rice brew from the vat
Photo by Getty Images
How About A Crisp Dosa With Fermented Soy Beans And Fish Mash?

Somewhere along the switchbacks seesawing to Māwsynrām, the menu at Samantha and Oomnen’s ‘5 Star Resturan’ is as much an oddball as the couple—it’s quite a story about how a tiny Khasi woman domesticated a wandering hulk from Kerala. That’s another time; this is a food story. Their food is fused with reciprocal love: a crisp dosa paired with tungrymbai and tungtap, Khasi fermented soy beans and a fish mash of punchy flavour and texture. The sambar and coconut chutney are seasonal/optional, leaning on supplies reaching this wet, wet world in Meghalaya. Pozhudhu sadam, the southern curd rice, accompanies a bowl of dohneiiong, pork chunks in a viscous curry of black sesame seeds. When the winter draught peeks through cracks in the shack’s wainscoting, they serve meals in insulated poly-casseroles. Fermented food tastes best in room temperature, they say. Not hot, not cold.

In another land—when the dehydrating loo blows—the cooling effect is the main draw at Ayandrali Dutta’s Noida home on a summer afternoon. You...

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