TODAY -

Taste of Manipur Ngari (Fermented Fish)

Leishemba Loushambam *

 A Ngari (fermented Fish delicacy) shop vendor selling directly from a Ngari Chaphu at a make-shift market under BT flyover, Imphal.
A Ngari shop vendor selling directly from a Ngari Chaphu at Imphal in 2008 :: Pix - Duran Thiyam



Talking about foods of North-East States have always been never ending story for me and my friend. Mainly for its Cultural and Ethnic diversity. Manipur alone have about 33 recognised tribes.

In the same way, we cannot outrun the topic "Ngari" while talking about foods of Manipur.

Digging into the terminology "Ngari", Nga means fish in Manipuri Language while ri (riba/liba) means process of fermentation. So basically it is local fermented fish and it have different names across the globe but the process of manufacturing Ngari is quite unique and complicated. It is also known as "Utong-nga" in some parts of Manipur.

Yes!! This stinky yet appetizing fermented fish is originated from Manipur.

It is mainly manufactured by Salt-free punti fish (puntius sophore)locally known as Phabou nga. Usually the process of fermentation "Ngari Namba" is mostly done in rural areas of Manipur by women.

During the process of "Ngari Namba", the dried Phabou fish is tightly packed inside earthen pot locally known as " Kharung" (Here, the Manipuri pottery and handicraft plays a vital role). The urn is being buried for 30-40 days.

Apart from the process of manufacturing, I , as a Manipuri would like to thrillingly pen some words portraying the taste of ngari and its role in Manipuri Chak-khum (Manipuri word for kitchen). It was invented hundred of years ago . Its recipe service of making variety of manipuri dishes uniquely and significantly have been passed down to generation over generation in the state of Manipur.

Ngari, not only being a vital recipe of Manipuri cuisine also help in distinguishing food as Manipuri originated with its unique odour and taste.

" Without Ngari, Kangsoi (a local cuisine specially made of boiled vegetables) is just a vegetable soup.
Without Ngari, Singju is just a vegetable Salad.
Without Ngari, Eronba is just a Chutney.
Without Ngari, Morokmetpa (local name of chilli pickles) is just an Achaar.
And many more........"

Ngari also have some health benefits when consumed as it is a great source of proteins,amino acids and minerals .

On all above of this, Zanini, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics often recommends two to three servings of fermented foods per day. But Ngari is gifted to the people of the Manipur for many years for its enormous values.

This delicious ,appetizing, mouthwatering taste of Ngari can only be known by the one who have taste it. So, what are u waiting for?

Apart from Sangai and Polo, Ngari also plays a crucial role in prefacing the tiny state of 'Manipur' to the rest of the world.

By the process of Globalisation, this indigenous food of Manipur which add a unique flavour to Manipuri cuisine have reached every corner of the world with proper packaging and It can be bought by anyone from anywhere through internationalised shopping websites like Amazon.

Isn't it so delightful to hear this as a Manipuri?. The Taste of Manipur "Ngari" is going to taste by million of tongues.

Besides all of these, what I really concerned about is that "How much Ngari is really assisting the economy of the state?" From "Ngari producers" to "Ngari sellers", Its their sole income source.

The thing is that even the raw element which is Phabou Fish is mainly imported from the neighbouring state "Assam". What is the main reason behind the state not being able to produce sufficient Phabou fish?.

Through this Article, I would like to urge the concerned state department which is the State department of fisheries to bat an eye on this issue and to take up steps to increase the production of fishes by harnessing the vast fisheries of the state using advanced techniques of fish culture to meet the heavy domestic demands.


* Leishemba Loushambam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a class 10 student of St. Joseph School, Sangaiprou
and can be contacted at leishembaloushambam6(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 19 2023 .



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