Manipur sits amid seven hills and is considered the Northeastern jewel of India. There may be a lot of food it has in common with its neighbours Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam and Myanmar. But, it is unique in its rituals, traditions, tribes and communities, which leave a huge influence on its favourite street foods. The rain-blessed agrarian state and its diversity of fruits and vegetables make the food of Manipur a great idea to exploit as a small food business.
Manipuri Food Features
- Manipur has abundant rainfall making rice cultivation, fruits and vegetables the mainstay of the agrarian state. No wonder the staple diet of the Manipuri people is rice, vegetables and fish.
- The state has a plethora of typical Manipuri vegetables like Sougri, Yendem, Kolamni, Koukhaa etc., which are Manipuri favourites often found in their street foods because of their abundance.
- Spices and flavours enhance the taste of the traditional food of Manipur while adding carminative and medicinal value to the dishes’ unique taste.
- Manipuri food uses a lot of gut-friendly fermented food like soybean, pickled fish and bamboo shoots.
- The traditional Manipuri cuisine is famous for its pickling and fermentation processes. It makes the street food full of goodness and taste. It also speaks highly of an agriculture-based community that preserves its food uniquely and wastes nothing.
- Street food in this state is not oily and is considered nutritious involving simple food processes that retain the natural organic goodness.
- Manipur is renowned for its healthy climate and amazing delicacies available on the streets, hand carts etc.
- Among the favourite culinary dishes is the salad dish called Singju that is made from an eclectic mix of Spinosa leaves, banana plant stems, flowers, leaves, green leafy vegetables, cabbage and green peas.
- Paknam is a spiced street food sweet dish that is quite popular and has vegetables, gram flour and other ingredients.
- Eromba or fermented pickled Ngari fish is widely found on street corners and is also a staple of foodies who love the Manipuri street food.
The top Manipuri street food dishes
- Kangshoi or Chamthong is a famous food of Manipur comprising a boiled broth dish from fresh vegetables, onion, ginger, garlic, spices etc. and typically served with a platter of rotis or steamed rice.
- Eromba is a widely enjoyed street food made with the favourite ingredients of the local Manipuri people. It is made from pickled, fermented Ngari fish with veggies, salt and spices. It is served as a broth with spring onions and coriander leaves garnishing.
- Utti or Ootti Thongba is a foodie's favourite and is a lentil-based street food dish with lentils, green peas, onions, ginger, garlic, coriander leaves, spring onions and more.
- Nga Thongba is very similar to a fish curry from the Ngari fish, found abundantly in the state. Though cooked traditionally as a broth or curry, it is also popular as the fermented fish versions.
- Chagempompa is also a regular street food dish loved by one and all. The dish is made from fermented soya bean or hawajir as it is known here and Chagem.
- Champhut is a vegetarian soupy dish prepared from boiled vegetables, salt, spices, and a dash of sugar.
- Singju is a salad dish made from green leafy vegetables, beans, cabbage, peas, Spinosa tender stalks, banana stem and flowers. The spicy dish is a take-off of kimchi, the Korean dish, and is the favourite spicy dish of foodies.
- Paknam is a dessert dish from the traditional Manipuri inspired cuisine wherein a sweet dish is prepared from herbs, spices, gram flour and vegetables.
- Chak-hao kheer is the kheer version of the Manipuri food culture and a regular favourite of its people. The purple coloured kheer dish Chak-hao kheer has rice, milk, dry fruits, spices and herbs like cardamom.
How to use Manipuri Street food as a business idea?
The idea of converting the main food of Manipur into a street food model or as a paying business is a popular option for food entrepreneurs willing to make a decent profit with a comparatively low investment. Here are some options worth exploring:
- Food Trucks are the way to go and are considered trending in India. They cater to the locals and typically serve the favourites as munchies, snacks and fast food.
- Fine dining restaurants put a spin on traditional Manipuri food, making them available as gourmet and signature dishes.
- Quick service or takeaway restaurants are smaller and concentrate on quantity with quality foods being served up in a small standing or quick dining space and earn through the takeaway parcel business.
- Cloud kitchens are technologically listed kitchen platforms that emphasise takeaways home-delivered in the times of the global pandemic.
- Fast and casual eateries are great for grabbing a no-frills bite and perfect for small families dining out and having small service areas.
There are also several opportunities that street versions of Manipur foods create. Take a look at these options:
- Street food delivery options
- Pickling and fermenting vegetables and fish
- Delivery of ready-to-cook street food dishes
- Packaging and take-away containers business
- Fair price fresh vegetables, eggs, fish etc. markets for street vendors
- Supply of vessels, disposable food containers, hand-carts etc
Also Read: Top 10 Cities for doing business in India
Factors to consider when starting a street food business
Even though it is a small street food business, starting a business is not as easy as it looks. There are several factors to consider when starting a famous dish of Manipur cuisine entrepreneurial venture. Below is a list of the significant aspects that have to be sorted out before a business takes off:
Business infrastructure: This is an essential factor in the Manipur famous food business. Make a list of the rent, location, seating arrangements, kitchen equipment required, running expenses, teller and technology, billing costs, etc.
Budgeting: This is the main financial factor of running and establishing a street food business. It is not just the budget used after the business commences, but the budget for every phase is important. The costs of location, rent, wages, licensing required, raw materials, cooking expenses, cutlery and service expenses are critical. Along with that, billing costs and every single item on a long list of expenses will need a budget and fine-tuning depending on how much can be afforded as capital for the business.
Coordination and planning: A crucial factor in entrepreneurship is planning and coordinating your daily activity lists, getting things moving, organising your facilities, arranging for loans and more. Typically small businesses are single person dependent startups. Therefore, smartly organising ideas and planning can help save a lot of hassle.
Choosing the right location: Location is a significant factor in any business and even more when it comes to street food. Ensure your location is visible and close to floating crowds of locals. Ensure the place has a scope for Manipuri cuisine that is good on quality, quantity and prices. When a small shop is not feasible, be innovative and think of food carts, food trucks and quick-assemble outlets that are within budgets.
Investment and loans: Finances are the bloodline of a business. Not every pie has to be from your pocket. The banks and government aid entrepreneurs by funding the Manipur business enterprises with loans at a reasonable interest rate. They also conduct entrepreneurship development programs to help sustain and manage small food business ventures.
Resource Management: It will not be an easy task to manage your resources for Manipuri cuisine. Remember your budget, and procure the right resources like raw materials, equipment on hire, workforce, fresh veggies and fruits, disposable cutlery etc.
Logistics and supply chain management: Since the business of serving Manipuri food is dependent on taste and local recipes, ensure you get authentic local spices, herbs, fish, vegetables etc., that are found in Manipuri food. Maintaining a regular and adequate supply of these is an art in itself.
Advertising and marketing support: Marketing Manipur traditional food and your business are essential. Think innovatively to promote the business. Does your food outlet display a cannot-be-missed signboard? Is your menu made of favourite local dishes? Can you get a tie-up with a food chain? Do you offer an excellent price for tummy-filling quantities? Think creatively and fulfil the requirements for successful marketing.
Taste: The very basic of the Manipur food eatery business is its taste and nutritional value. If the dishes served are Manipur’s authentic and traditional recipes, they easily identify with the locals. Your chef is your biggest asset in this line of work. Stay with organic foods, wholesome foods and a well-flavoured range of Manipuri tastes.
Social media: Today’s Manipur special food businesses can be easily promoted online with a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Chat up your customers to make regular posts of your business to achieve fame and success.
Why Manipuri food items are successful in the food business
The normal rule is that food businesses rarely fail when you ensure the following tips:
- Manipur dishes are full of nutrition and organic items.
- It has a variety of delicacies suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
- It is the food local masses are familiar with and appreciate.
- People prefer eateries where the quantity, quality, price, cleanliness and authenticity in the taste of Manipuri cuisine is maintained.
- Manipur has a large variety of local fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs etc., that are typically available and preferred by the masses.
- Pickled and fermented food is very popular in the Manipuri food culture and ensures that these dishes are available all year round.
Manipuri street food is well-appreciated in the Northeastern States. Several business opportunities in the cuisine of Manipur exist that can be easily exploited gainfully with a minimum of resources. However, as pointed out above, the job of an entrepreneur is never easy. The main hurdles in such business are in accounting, State GST compliance, scheduling, managing and maintaining their enterprises. Did you know that the Khatabook app can be a God-send for street food entrepreneurs with just these hard tasks? Try it out today!