The state of Meghalaya is one of the seven sisters in India’s northeastern part, which stuns visitors with its scenic and lush green beauty. The food here is mainly grown from staples like bamboo shoots, bananas, rice, local fish, fresh garden vegetable curry, and meat. Their cooking utensils, recipes, and cuisine depend on the locally available produce and can be subdivided into three distinct styles. These cooking styles and Shillong food culture are part of the main tribes of Meghalaya, namely the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes, who typically use bamboo shoots, baskets etc., for cooking. They also use the banana stem, leaves, flowers, etc., very innovatively as food wrappings, serving platters and more.
Meghalaya’s food is now popular all over India. Think momos and the mouth-watering spicy chutney that accompanies it! Though it has major food items like noodles, momos, and steamed rice, the secret treasure trove of Meghalaya cuisine can successfully inspire a street food business as well. Meghalaya cuisine also includes popular food items from Assam, North India, Bengal and even China.
Shillong Food Quick Facts
The tribes of Meghalaya and their cultural cuisines heavily dominate the Meghalaya cuisine and food culture in Shillong. Authentic recipes of the Jaintia and Khasi tribes are popular foods of the locals and are a hit among tourists as they are available as street food.
Meghalaya’s Shillong has various authentic food places from street stalls to high-end restaurants. Areas like the city centre and Police Bazaar are prime areas for street food. Tourists can use the low prices to try out more than one dish at such street food outlets at the cost of a meal in a top restaurant. While momos, rice pancakes and noodles immediately spring to mind, the Meghalaya cuisine has a wide range of traditional foods, authentic dishes and even dishes that can be customised to suit your palate.
Also Read: Most Famous Sikkim Food That You Must Try
The traditional dishes in Meghalaya street food
Here are some of the most typical Meghalaya dishes and Assam food names that one can use as inspiration for the street food business.
- Momos come with different fillings. Vegetarians can wolf down the cabbage and carrot momos, while the non-vegetarians can choose between chicken, pork and more fillings. The spicy chutney that accompanies the momos is red chilli based and is typical in the Northeastern region.
- The Doh-Khlieh salad is a must-try. Its nutritional value is unsurpassable and has several variants. It is generally made from minced and ground pork, onions, chillies and vegetables like carrots, beans, tomatoes, lemon, peas etc. The pig-brain curry version is a favourite with bread pieces and consumed with steamed rice, momos etc.
- Jadoh Shillong is the favourite dish of many and is primarily a Khasi tribe recipe. The pork and red rice dish have variants with chicken, fish or boiled vegetables. Made with turmeric, its spicy yellow tang is due to its containing a wide variety of carminative property specials like green chillies, bay leaves, pepper, onions, garlic, ginger and local herbs and spices.
- Nakham Bitchi is a hot and spicy soup dish that preempts the meal in Shillong. Made from the Nakham dried fish, it forms a gravy-like consistency with copious amounts of pepper and diced red/green chillies.
- Dohneiiong is a well-loved spicy and flavoursome gravy dish made from pork and spiced with black sesame, red onions, pepper, green chillies, and local herbs/spices. Generally served with Pumaloi or Jadoh, it has its own unique flavour.
- Pumaloi, or the favourite rice meal of Shillong, is a dish made from powdered rice and steamed in a Khiew Ranei pot that is typical to Shillong. Widely eaten as a festive dish in the culture of Meghalaya, it is consumed with wholesome gravy that is generally from vegetables cooked with chicken or pork.
- Pudoh is again rice-based and similar to Pumaloi except that it contains diced pork and a curry consistency.
- Tungrymbai is a sautéed fermented soybean meal with pork chunks, garlic, ginger, black sesame, onions, spices and herbs.
- Minil Songa is a favourite of the Garo tribes and is rice-based. It is a sticky rice dish boiled in bamboo shoots and has a unique nutty texture and flavour. It also aids in digestion and constipation.
- Sakin Gata or Meghalaya’s distinct fermented rice cakes are made from soaked and fermented white rice and roasted sesame seeds. They are cooked in banana leaf coverings and served straight from a unique pot. An exciting sweet dish Sakin Gata is great as a snack or when accompanying a festive meal.
- Other dishes like:
- The pickled and well-fermented Khasi tribe food made of bamboo shoots.
- The rice-based pancakes called Putharo.
- Sweet dishes like Shir Sewain.
- The sweet/spicy versions of Pukhlein, Sabudana Vadas.
- The bamboo-stem cooked Kyat.
- The rice platter called Khasi.
- The gravy and exotic Kappa side dish or snack with pork and more are the most loved street food in Meghalaya.
Also Read: Famous Street Food of Manipur
The adoption factors of street foods
People worldwide seem to love street food as it gives them an insight into the traditional food of Meghalaya, its flavours, produce etc. Snacks or lunch can now be healthy and cheap with Meghalayan street food that is booming. Are you aware that the street food culture and make-shift food stalls have grown over 12% despite troubled pandemic times?
The reasons can be some of the following:
- The street food culture is inspired by the local famous personalities of Meghalaya, taking its traditional foods to the common person in food trucks, pushcarts, food stalls etc.
- The street food option helps the small investors use their knowledge with the least amount of investment needed for a successful mobile enterprise.
- Street food popularises the local cuisine.
- Khasi dishes are cheaper, flavourful and filling, allowing people to try out more dishes at a less cost than an outing to expensive hotels.
- Street food is now popular as a drawing factor at food festivals, market places, fairs and even outside well-known hotels.
- Foodies and locals prefer familiar foods with fresh veggies, meat and locally grown produce.
- Street food prices offer cleanliness and the right quality at the right prices.
- The Indian foodie culture has changed and is inclusive of street foods with authentic spins on Meghalaya foods.
The important factors in the street food business
When you think of starting a business venture based on Meghalaya foods, here are some factors to keep in mind-
Research your market
Conduct thorough market research of the famous food of Meghalaya before you start. This means that you need to study the market for:
- Local audience preferences for the food of Meghalaya.
- Food-stall location, rentals, food chain ties etc.
- Amenities and infrastructure required.
- Availability of raw materials, cook, workforce etc.
- Financial budgets and means of being financed.
- Licensing needed and method of accounting.
- Your menu items and their competitive prices.
- The actual competition.
- Operation timings and more.
It is all about the location in the dining business. A successful venture is dependent on the ambience provided, available space for dining, the peak hours and rush crowd anticipation, and a lot more. Focus on the famous food of Shillong, its location specifics, the licensing norms for kiosks, food trucks, food pushcarts, permanent stalls, and crowd timings.
Popular areas to locate a Meghalaya traditional food stall would be:
- Near parks and offices.
- The central business areas.
- Places that are surrounded by transportation stations, malls, tourist locations or shopping areas.
- Beaches, sports venues, conferences and convention parks, market places etc.
- College campuses, event venues and festival fairs.
- Weddings, corporate events and birthday party catering are also great ideas.
Financial, accounting and legal norms
These factors are crucial to your Meghalaya famous food business and vary with city, state, and location. Make a budget every step of the way and try to stay within it. Think if you will self-finance the venture or if you need a loan. If so, from whom will you take a loan? The government and banks may have schemes to encourage small enterprises. As yourself these questions:
- Do you need a project report?
- Should you register the enterprise?
- How will you get the food, electricity and water connection licenses?
- What infrastructure and hygiene levels need to be maintained?
- Once started, how will you account for your daily business?
- What about GST on food services and other applicable taxes?
These are just some of the starting questions that you need to answer to start a food business in the state.
The food in Meghalaya has a wide variety ranging from spicy noodles, momos to various local items. Street food from the Northeastern States, especially Meghalaya, is popular for its variety and unique taste. However, the journey of an entrepreneur in the food business is never smooth and is fraught with many hurdles, as discussed above. The several business opportunities in Meghalaya street food can easily be exploited gainfully anywhere in India with a minimum of resources. However, accounting, licensing, the State GST compliance, managing and maintaining one’s enterprise at the micro-level can easily take their toll. Did you know that the Khatabook app is specially designed for small businesses and enterprises who can access their accounting and GST software from their mobile phones? It is very easy and can be a single platform to manage business for new entrepreneurs. Check it out today.