The cuisine of the Northeast of India is popular not just within the country but worldwide. The use of local herbs, unique process of cooking, and tangy spices leave the tourists craving for more. However, the traditional beverages prepared in these states are no less enthralling. In fact, your trip to the Northeast will remain incomplete if you don’t try some of these alcoholic drinks, at least once. Here’s a handy list of all the beverages available in the region.
1. Apong from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh: Apong is a rice beer traditionally made by Mishing tribe in Assam and also the Adi people belonging to Arunachal Pradesh. Typically, there are two kinds of Mishing Apong – Poro Apong and Nogin Apong. The former is prepared with fermented rice and rice straw which leaves a dark brown colour to the drink, while the latter is white in colour and subtle in taste. Owing to its high mineral contents, Poro is used for medicinal purposes. The process of making Apong takes nearly three months and involves various steps such as mixing leaves, drying, heating on earthen pots, fermenting, and lastly, filtration.
2. Chuwarak from Tripura: Chuwarak is one form of whiskey made in Tripura. The preparation of this drink includes a variety of raw materials such as jackfruit, rice, and pineapple. Besides these, some of the local ingredients like Thakotor leaves and Tokhiseleng leaves are also used in the preparation of Chuwarak. Anyone who consumes it once is certain to try it again and perhaps, more than often, thanks to its special aroma and soothing taste.
3. Zutho from Nagaland: For trying Zutho, you don’t have to travel all the way to Japan. Find your way to Nagaland and taste this local beer that is largely available in different levels of effectiveness, depending on the depth of the fermentation process. Zutho is made from sprouted rice grain by the Nagami and Mao tribe of Nagaland. This beer is white in colour and is brewed in Kohima. Zutho is highly-preferred by both locals and tourists because of its sour taste and fruity aroma, which is often compared to the Japanese version.
4. Chhaang from Sikkim: The Chhaang, also commonly known as Tongba, is a common drink in Sikkim. For making this beverage, the whole grain millet is cooked and then fermented. Before the final process of beverage is conducted, it is left for drying for a long time. What makes this drink unique is the fact that it is stored in a bamboo tumbler and at a later stage, boiled water is added to it. In fact, there’s no occasion that doesn’t involve Chhaang.
5. Zu from Mizoram: Made from fermented rice, millet or maize, Zu, the Mizo local beer has three main grades – rakzu, zufang, zupui and zulawm – brewed by different groups of people for different occasions. Hnahlan village, in Mizoram, is the only village in North East where grapes are commercially grown for making wine. People over there call grape wine Zawlaidi which means ‘Love Potion.’
6. Yu from Manipur: Yu tastes very much like vodka. Smooth and light, the best way to relish it is from earthen pots. The people of Manipur use Yu for medicine, relaxant and offerings to their Gods. It is prepared by fermentation of cereal grains and locally available fruits.
7. Kiad from Meghalaya: This rice beer is as good as the picturesque regions of Khasi, Garo and Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya. Kiad, also known as Chu, is Meghalaya’s own take on rice beer! Served in a bamboo tumbler, the locals use a piece of charcoal to ensure the tart, the sweet drink has the desired balance of alcohol. The distillation amount varies from one region to another. The list of beverages doesn’t end here. From Assam’s Lao Paani to Meghalaya’s Bitchi to Arunachal’s Opo – there’s so much that is likely to suit different taste buds.