Part 1 of 3 – People of the Khasi Tribe
Part 2 of 3 – Places we visited in Meghalaya
Part 3 of 3 – Places we stayed & Food in Meghalaya
In a nutshell: A mix of average to good hotels & a very nice homestay. A world of new food that we had not had in that form ever, earlier. Loved every bit of the best culinary exploration trip we could remember, thanks to Joon, the man who drove us around in his Innova.
This is a travelogue & the idea is to share our experience during travel & provide information on what we saw / heard / gathered from our experiences & conversations. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF PLACES TO VISIT IN MEGHALAYA.
Address & other details:
The guys who organized the trip – Vana safaris
The Man who drove us around – Joon (+919707803248)
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries / Hotels / travel companies reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant/hotel/place of travel in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
Cost of the trip paid was paid by YUMMRAJ to Vana Safaris by UPI payment transfer. From that, Vana Safaris have paid all the expenses of the trip. Cost of food was mostly paid by YUMMRAJ directly.
Please find below the contents – so that you can skip sections that do not interest you & go straight to the more interesting sections:
1. Places we stayed at
• The Habitat, Shillong
• Naimei stay, Nohwet, singlehandedly run by Mr. Hali
• La Kupar, Cherrapunji
2. The Places we ate at & what we ate
1. Places we stayed at
All 3 places we stayed, the beds were real small. Forget king/ queen size, I call these princess size beds. Everywhere my heels were at the edge of the bed & my head was almost touching the head of the bed. I am 6 ft tall.
The Habitat, Shillong
It’s a good hotel in a small lane, managed by warm & efficient people. Really good hosts, very cooperative. They made us feel at home.
The hotel fulfils basic necessities. The rooms were very neat & clean. The decor was tastefully done with minimal plastic & mostly local elements.
Our stay was Comfortable.
We ate a dinner & a breakfast here.
They did not have any local food on offer. They did not have any a la carte menu card either. We got choice of veg or nonveg thali. So, the dinner was a nonveg thali. The food we ate was north Indian commercial food.
The food was very good. Cooked in small scale & hence it was like that in a small guest house / large home.
Naimei stay, Nohwet,
Naimei stay is a 50 year old house, built by the current owner, Hali’s father. It’s now a home stay run single-handedly by Hali. He cooks, he does house-keeping, he speaks to guests & everything that is needed. He is an incredible one man army.
Hali seemed to be a introvert person when we met him. However he opened up slowly as he interacted more with us.
We absolutely loved the house – A traditional wooden house with metal sheet covering on the outside, wooden flooring & thatched roof.
The decor of everything at Hali’s house was local & it conveyed a lot of stories of the region.
Hali is a pretty good cook & he cooked some very good food for us. He cooks North Indian, bit of Western & of course local food.
We requested for local food in all our main meals. The food Hali cooked was made of local ingredients, sometimes traditional Khasi food & some other times it ended up being fusion.
La Kupar, Cherrapunji
In a nutshell, we think it’s a bad infrastructure hotel, managed by great staff & manager. The infrastructure was not upto the mark. The room was large but gloomy. The doors that opened to the outside of the building had cold air coming in from them.
Cherrapunji in general had Bad internet. The Hotel wifi was equally bad.
The hotel provided us with inadequate warming blankets made with ineffective cheap synthetic material.
The heater that we paid for separately did a feeble job of heating as there were gaps in the doors & also it very low power to heat a large room.
The eating area was also too cold. The main lobby was under construction & hence had no roof. The dining & lounge area was exposed to elements of nature. We were shivering while having dinner.
We can never forget the outstanding Manager, John. He always went out of way to help. We found him to be a very warm person, always smiling, an outstanding host
Food at the trip
The following paragraph talks about Khasi food in general. It is a repeat of food section in part 1 of 3. So please skip this section if you remember the details & move to ‘Places we ate at’
Nowadays rice is the most commonly eaten cereal by the Khasis. Earlier khasis used to eat sweet potatoes, yam & other root vegetables as cereals & with that they had some leafs (saag) & meats. This was because it was difficult to grow rice in the mountains.
Khasis traditionally did not grow & eat much vegetables except jarain leaf (buckwheat leaf), jabuit leaf, fig leaf etc. They would eat the fig leaf but would not know how to process & eat the fig.
We were told that ‘we don’t use knife to chop any edible leaf. We just tear with hands.’
Nowadays, fresh organic vegetables are eaten fresh in the season & extra produce is dried for consumption in winter & rainy season
Fruits here are very juicy & blend of sweet & sour.
Earlier the Khasi tradition did not impose any restriction on eating any kind of meats (including beef, pork, wild animals including deer, boars, large squirrels, flying squirrels, monkey, bear, local chicken, barbet & even tiger killed by accident etc.) except snake. Few centuries back, some sub tribes were known to be doing head hunting too.
In Jaintia hills, they have a festival named Shad Rong Khli – if the villagers kill a tiger either accidentally or to defend themselves, then the village celebrates this festival that lasts 3-4 days. After end of festival, a part of dried meat of tiger is distributed to all families in the village. It’s believed that by eating a ritual tiger meat, they will be able to get good health.
In Khasi diet there is no milk, no dahi, no milk product. The Khasi families keep cows only for cow dung (needed for organic farming) & beef.
Khasis did not have the concept of consuming oil earlier. Every food item was either boiled, roasted on fire or smoked, with some herbs or pepper. Now they buy mustard oil & eat fried vegetables.
The long list of Indian spices are hardly used in the traditional food. We did not see the concept of using mixed masala paste or masala powder. We saw people at homes & also at eateries still using silbatta to grind ingredients for making chutneys.
The Pork we ate everywhere in this trip had high fat to meat ratio. They were all farm bred bigger animals. This did not match with our memory of outstanding pork (small animals, balanced meat to fat ratio) in Nagaland.
Salt was not a common ingredient of cooking earlier. So food cooked for tourists often suboptimal more salt. The other reason might be that we saw the village boys eat a large quantity of rice with relatively less curry, which is opposite of what we did. We ate more gravy with less rice.
We ate a lot of salads in the trip, at every place, made from local organic fresh vegetables.
The vegetable curries we ate everywhere were simple, minimal use of spices, emphasis on highlighting the texture & flavour of the ingredient.
Till some time back there was no concept of oil in Khasi cooking. Only lard was used in some dishes. People would collect liquid fat from pork roast & store inside dried gourd & consume that over time.
We tasted a local spice named Jaiyor. It felt like timbur of Nepal. The Jaiyor had a long lasting sensation on the tongue. The initial response was the feeling of Hot (chilly), but later the tongue felt cold for a long time.
We enjoyed Sohbaingandiang- local tomato. It was way more tart, way more character than the ones we buy from markets in the metros.
ild pepper way is more expensive than the cultivated one. It is dried & eaten. We were fortunate to experience some. High on flavours.
We also tried Khasi mandarin – Sohnairiang. Flavourful, juicy & super tart.
Places we ate at
Khasi Tea Stall, NH6, Nongpoh, Ri Bhoi district, Guwahati Shillong Road
While the name of the restaurant is ‘tea stall’ they do sell full meals.
For the food that we ate, we paid ₹480 through UPI. No bill received.
It’s a beautiful small eatery run by ladies – looks like they are members of a family. They behaved with each other like sisters / aunts.
All food that we ate here were food of Khasi or Jaintia tribe. They did not serve food of Garo tribe. We enjoyed a garo meal on the way back, at another restaurant.
Jadoh – Khasi fried rice, black sesame Pork. Ja means rice, doh means meat. The meat was soft & flavourful. The rice was very tasty & flavourful too. Rate it 4/5
Aloo fried was really nice. Rate it 4/5
We were served Salad from fresh organic vegetables grown in the locality. Throughout the trip we totally enjoyed salads due to the sheer freshness of the vegetables. Rate it 4/5
Red Chutney tungtap made with dry fish was super hot. It was beyond our ‘hot’ eating capacity but it was just full of dry fish & chilly flavours. Very good. Rate it 4/5
Green chutney turung bai had been made from fermented beans. It was a crazy flavour bomb. Rate it 4.75/5
Doh khleh – We were bowled out by this ‘pork head’ salad, with added ginger, onion & drumsticks. The meat was extreme juicy, the flavours of meat were just all over. Rate it 4.95/5
A daal named sboh is eaten by the people from Jaintia tribe. The water is reduced totally & the daal is served in solid state. It was very good to taste & the flavours of daal ruled. Reminded us of some other subtle daals that we have eaten like other eastern Indian states Rate it 4/5.
We then had ‘nei leh’, a Khasi fish curry cooked with White sesame. It had a full flavour thick gravy due to sesame. Rate it 4.5/5
Pashor chutney was made with white sesame & banana blossom. It was simply outstanding & we finished it till the till the last drop. Rate it 4.75/5
We loved the vegetable curry joha kumra, with cauliflower & white pumpkin. Rate it 4.5/5
We enjoyed all this food with steamed rice
Momo’s corner, Shillong
We were at Shillong Don Bosco museum & it was quite cold. So we thought of having something that would warm us up. So Joon took us to Momo’s corner in a small local neighbourhood market. The shop is run by a Tibetan lady who has settled in Shillong after staying in Pondicherry for many years. We chatted a bit with her. She said she does the preps for momos herself every morning.
The restaurant has a slab protruding out of the walls for people to rest their plates on. Then they sit on benches & eat, facing the wall.
We paid Rs.210 thru UPI. No bill.
There were 3-4 dishes on the menu.
We had the beef momo & soup. The beef momos were mind-blowing good. Juicy, intensely flavourful & very tasty, large momos with a fairly thin outer cover. It was freshly steamed & served to us.
The hot soup made from beef stock immediately heated us up. Rate the momo & soup 4.75/5
We also tasted laphing – the covering made from lentil & filled with meat & wai wai filling inside. It was a new dish for us. Liked it. Rate it 3.5/5
We got to know this from our Instagram friend ‘fivespice_kitchen – ‘Original name of this dish was Liangfen. It was usually a summer dish. Earlier it was just the yellow part. The stuffing is a later innovation.’
Mukhim’s Fast Food, Pommura
On our way to Krangshuri from Shillong, our driver Joon stopped at this lone shop in the middle of nowhere, on the roadside.
He said he wanted to drink tea. We waited for Joon in the car. We saw him calling us in excitement. We went to the tea stall & realized they were selling some food also, to the locals.
We tried Niyand ryndi, a worm like silkworm, but different. It was Stir-fried & served with onions & red chilly powder. We had absolute fun munching on it. It had a fatty meat kind of feeling. Full of flavours & very good to eat. Rate it 4.5/5
We also tried shnier massi – Beef innards soup. It had potent flavours of the beef. The soup had been slow cooked overnight & was still kept on fire when we saw it. As in all innards dishes, every bite had a different texture & taste. Loved the intense robust soup. Rate it 4.5/5
We got to know that it is a 20 year old shop, initially a tea stall & now evolving into a restaurant.
MB Krangshuri Homestay,
This is a homestay with some constructed rooms & some tents, managed by a family. The family does everything on their own – house-keeping, food & managing guests. They can be contacted at +916000416892.
Like I mentioned earlier, salt was not a part of daily food of Khasis earlier. We found sub-optimal salt in many dishes in many places during the trip – a bit more or a bit less. Two dishes at this homestay had that problem. Rest were very good. The food was cooked with fresh spices ground on traditional stone silbatta.
Cabbage curry was very good to taste. It had some potatoes & beans in it as well.
We loved the slow fire deep fried Potatoes. They had slight browning on the edges & were super soft inside.
Daal tempered with nigella seeds was really nicely cooked.
Flavourful red chillies added spice to the otherwise subtle vegetarian food.
Smoked pork curry was outstanding. The texture of smoked pork is unmissable – the fat layer weans off during the smoking process but the smoky fat flavour remains. The meat becomes somewhat crunchy but soft. Loved this.
Chicken curry cooked in local style was very enjoyable as well
We really loved our meal at this place.
The warmth of the family doubled the magic of the good food.
After a full lunch at MB Krangshui we started driving towards Darang Village. We saw some ladies selling food on the roadside. Some were selling meat & others were selling food they cooked at home.
We had absolutely no space to eat but we decided to pack some food. We bought a local fruit as well.
We got some noodles packed. It was so good to see her pack the noodle in a dry leaf & then cover it with newspaper. No plastic.
The red dry egg preparation looked very enticing. So we got some of that packed too.
After a short trek to Darang root-bridge & boating in the clean water river, we returned to the car & ate the food.
The noodles had minimal oil & it was medium hot & was very good to taste. The lady had given a tomato chilly chutney that added a twist.
The red eggs were very good to taste as well.
The fruit was slightly juicy & had a flat taste. It had a crunchy texture & mild flavour.
Like I mentioned, the owner of the homestay, Hali is a one man army. He cooked, served, did the housekeeping, accounting & marketing. This is what we had a Naimei stay:
Dinner Day 1
Curry made from local Mushrooms was very good to taste. A medley of textures
Daal was super simple & nice. Thin daal cooked with tomatoes & onion. Perfect seasoning.
Mixed vegetables (cauliflower, beans, carrots etc.) dry preparation was slow cooked & the vegetables complimented each other very well.
Fish from Bangladesh fish not fried thin gravy tomatoes onion & garlic
Local pineapple with a dash of salt & a hint of sugar.
Breakfast day 2
Aloo paratha – so much aloo filling that paratha was bursting out from everywhere. Fab to taste. 4.5/5
Masala Omelette – one of the finest we have had in a while, surely better than the best of the hotels (including 5 star hotels we stayed recently). He put in a lot of hard work. Finely chopped vegetables. Right balance of taste. Juicy bite. 4.95/5
Dinner Day 2
When I walked in the evening to the kitchen cum dining room, I saw Hali cleaning large leaves. Got to know that those are Fig leaf. He cooked that with black sesame & garnished with raw onions. The dish was totally different than anything we have had before. Loved the taste of it. The sesame seed added a texture to the dish.
Banana blossom curry was very different than the Odia, Bengali or Assamese version that we had eaten earlier. This preparation made by Hali had a thin gravy & very finely chopped banana blossom. The spices were different. There was no use of coconut like in the other versions. Hali’s version was a simpler version that was nice to taste. Banana blossoms were the only ingredients.
Pumpkin with black sesame was the best dish of the evening. Hali had slow cooked the fabulous local pumpkin that we had bought from the local market. The end result was just wow. Low oil, texture of pumpkin was intact, the balance of taste was perfect & sesame did magic.
Chicken with tiny bits of potato was excellent. We loved every bit of this.
Breakfast Day 3
Hali made some cheese sandwich with huge patience, He slow cooked the sandwich on tawa over a long time, carefully turning it around for the perfect browning. Result was fab – crisp outer side & molten cheese inside.
Shangyiar Food Corner, Mawlyynong
At ‘Asia’s cleanest village’ we had a local thali & also ordered chicken in addition.
The thali had both local Rice & Roti
We just loved the super simple, minimal spiced, mixed vegetable curry with Cauliflower, Cabbage & carrot made with minimal oil.
Slow fried Potato was also really good to taste
Tomato, onions & green chilly chutney was potent & enjoyable – hot & sour, with the right amount of salt.
We also enjoyed the thin, watery, delicious daal made with minimal spices & oil.
The Chicken curry was medium hot, had predominant flavours of chicken, ginger & chillies. Loved the final taste of the gravy. The chicken was soft & nice.
Jingmaham Living Root Bridge – Roast beef
After we returned from a light trek to Jingmaham Root bridge, Joon gave us some meat in a coffee paper cup. We looked at him inquisitively. He said – last night the villagers made roast beef. I got some from them for you to taste’!!!
The roast was juicy & immensely flavourful.
Nameless shop in Risawkur
Onway from one place to another, we stopped at tyre air filling place. Opposite to this shop was a shop named Lyntat.
We got to know that this area was one of the places where Bangladeshi migrants had come into India during late 60s & early 70s.
Joon got to know that the shop was selling Dohsniang pork with sesame & got us a plate. Absolutely loved the immensely flavourful pork. It had been roasted.
At this nameless eatery, we saw guests eating Paratha & black tea at around 11 am. We heard this was a popular snack these days. The salty thin un-stuffed paratha was soft overall & slightly crisp at the corners. This contrasted well with the hot & sweet tea.
After having this snack we went to see a cave & returned here to have lunch.
The Chutney made with tomato, green chillies made on silbatta was quite potent but unputdownable.
Loved the thin gravy Beef curry – small pieces of beef well cooked.
We also tried the almost boiled pork curry in which the thin watery gravy had incorporated strong flavours of pork. The pork pieces however had a higher fat to meat ratio.
A mixed vegetable curry of Potato, onions, carrots & onion plants slow fried was very good to taste.
Loved munching on the salad made from locally grown organic vegetables – Tomato, onion & green chillies.
Badu tea stall, khliehshnong sohra market.
This is a small, busy eatery without a signage, where shopkeepers at the local Cherrapunji market eat their meals at.
We tried Syrwadohsniang, a meat soup served at room temperature always. It had full flavours of meat cooked for long. Something new.
We also ate Beef meat balls that were served at room temperature. The meatballs were dry on the face of it. They were just not juicy but they got juicy with every bite. The texture of the meatball was lumpy. Pretty good overall.
We also tried Doh jem- offal of pork, cooked like a curry. High on flavours. Medley of textures.
Hotel La Kupar dinner 1
We were given a Khasi thali
Yellow rice is a traditional dish hat we had in a few places in Meghalaya. Seems to be a occasion dish, not a daily food.
We loved the chicken curry with light, thin gravy.
We bought some Local pepper from cherrapunji market. On request, the kitchen stir fried & served to us. The dish was high on flavours of the pepper & a hot aftertaste.
Green chutney turung bai had been made from fermented beans. Really loved the strong flavours.
Red Chutney tungtap was made with dry fish. We thought this was better than what we remember eating at Khasi tea stall on GS road.
The hotel kitchen also cleaned & cut Pineapples & starfruit that we bought from the market. Juiciest ever. Never had such good pineapples in India. Made me remember the ones at Hawai.
Lunch at Shimtilang diengdoh shack at Laitryngew
We absolutely loved the juicy & intense flavoured Pork meat balls.
Beef innards curry was very good.
Pudina chutney was freshly made on silbatta
Dry fish chutney was very good.
The slow aloo fry was good to taste.
Fresh organic vegetables salad
Pork soup was really good with flavours of pork dominating.
Alfida Mary Khongsit’s house
Alfida’s mother cooked Sweet potato fry for us in her traditional Khasi kitchen. We sat around her on the floor, talked & finally enjoyed the fries cooked without any additions, not even salt.
A nameless roadside small eatery, War village
Onway we stopped at a roadside eatery & tried Rice pancakes with beef entrails.
We also tried Non sweetened, rather mildly sweetened food similar to pua (malpua) of Bihar.
La Kupar Khasi dinner 2
Since we requested a good, unusual local food for dinner, we were served smoked pork from laitlyngkot. This pork is fed with taro & it is sought after, we were told. The flavours of pork were beautifully incorporated in the gravy. There was a slight crunch in the meat. The fat in between muscles ensured that every bite was juicy. Rate it 4.75/5
We had bought dried fish Shidol & local tomatoes from Cherrapunji market. We requested the hotel to make chutney. They did an outstanding job of it. We kept licking our fingers. Rate it 4.75/5
A Chik Hotel – Garo Food
In the trip we had a lot of Khasi food, some Jaintia dishes & just one Garo meal. This as for no particular reason but the fact that there were very few eateries serving Garo food.
Green Chutney made from semi dry fish was full of flavours of both dry fish & chillies & super-super hot. Rate it 4/5
Kharchi, dry fish jhol (thin gravy) with tomato & dhania (coriander) was just fab. A water like almost colourless jhol bursting with flavours of dry fish & tomato. Highlights were the sourness from the tomatoes & hotness from chillies. 4.25/5
Pork khappa – pork cooked with khar was just too good. The pork was roasted first & cooked. The texture became similar to the smoked pork, yet different. There was not thick layer of fat. Rather the ‘gravy’ at the bottom was pure molten, cooked fat. Rate it 4.5/5. The dish had excess salt. So adjusted final rating is 4/5
Dal was made in combination of masoor & a junglee daal. It was thin, simple & just boiled. Rate it 4/5
To wrap it up, we have done many trips in our life. We have done quite a few trips with Vana Safaris. This was the BEST culinary trip we ever had, in terms of exploring a new cuisine.