Mizoram, the state surrounded with hills, valleys and swirling rivers, has very rich and distinct food culture. The food characteristics are a lot similar to that of the other north eastern states, retaining the uniqueness and taste of its own. The mizo food culture possesses the essence of the Chinese food as well as north Indian food culture.
The Mizoram cuisine offers mainly non vegetarian dishes served in fresh green banana leaves. The meals are less spicy comparatively to other region food types and are highly nutritious. The core dish of the Mizos consists of non-vegetarian essence. Vegetables are essential part of the cuisine, and inevitable but non-vegetarian items are the mizo people’s favourite, without which they tend not to have any meal.
Rice is an imperative item, which is accompanied by various other vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Amongst the non-vegetarian dishes include meats like pork, chicken, duck and goat. During the preparation of the dishes, bamboo shoots and other local herbs are ferociously used to give the dish an aroma of its own.
The oil that is mainly preferred for cooking is the mustard oil. Oil is used in very less quantity for Mizo cuisines, the reason being that people here are not much into oily food. They enjoy the food, with its richness and raw aroma intact. It is with this specialty of the cooking process that Mizo food is delicious, rich yet not spiced up with oil.
The mostly common used spices used in the dishes are garlic, ginger, onion and chillies as well. Food is preferred to be served on banana leaves which make it much more traditional. No desserts are available in the mizo meal; however they prefer to have fresh fruit after the meals. Locally produced wine is also a favourite amongst the Mizo people. The original and indigenous essence of the Mizo dishes makes it more special and gives it an irreplaceable taste.
Some of the popular Mizo cuisines are Bai, a boiled dish consisting of pork, spinach and bamboo shoots, Vawksa Rep or smoked pork is a dish that is loved by not only the Mizo habitants, which is made of pork cubes, flavoured with herbs but also all food lovers, saw chair is another item prepared from rice and pork/chicken.
Another famous mizo cuisine is Arsa Buhchiar, where a whole chicken is roasted in open fire and then cooked by combining it with sticky rice and other herbs. Misa Maas poora is a shrimp special; paanch phoron torkari is another delicacy. There is another dish called Sawchair made of rice cooked with pork or chicken. Both men and women are fond of smoking.
Orchards of lemon and lime, passion fruit, pineapple and papaya are a pretty sight as one traverses the countryside of Mizoram.
Zu, the Mizo beer, made from fermented rice, millet or maize, was of three main grades – rakzu, zufang, zupui and zulawm – brewed by different groups of people for different occasions. The association of rice beer or zu, with the aspect of dance was integral.
Zawlaidi grape wine is also produced in Mizoram and is famous for its bubbly taste. The premium grape wine is in fact economically important for the former dry state with 80% of the city of Hnahlan being employed in the manufacturing of this wine.