Community & Culture

10 Lip-Smacking But Lesser-Known Indian Food Items You Must Try

Chhena gaja

Indian cuisine is a miscellaneous collection of ethnicities, cultures, and traditions.  It not only varies drastically from one region to another, but also has countless variations within regional boundaries.  The first thing that comes to the mind of a non-Indian when they hear about Indian cuisine is most likely to be Chicken tikka masala, a specialty from Punjab.  While a majority of Indians are familiar with popular cuisines such as Punjabi and Hyderabadi, much of the food items from eastern and northeastern India remain unexplored.  Here is a list of 10 such lesser-known Indian food items that anybody who loves food must try!

1. Khar

Wikimedia Commons

Khar is a traditional dish from Assam, generally eaten with rice at the beginning of a meal.  The first step in its preparation involves drying and burning banana peels.  Water is filtered through this ash and is mixed with ingredients such as raw papaya or bottle gourd, which forms the dish’s base.

2. Chikhvi


Chikhvi is a dish from the state of Tripura.  The main ingredients are bamboo shoots and pork.  Although most Indian side dishes make use of oil, Chikhvi is one dish prepared without oil.  It is served with steaming-hot white rice.

3. Iromba 

Cook Gourmet

Iromba is a Manipuri dish with a pungent aroma, made using fermented fish and vegetables.  It is generally served as a side dish with flavored jasmine rice.

4. Daieneiiong

Varada’s Kitchen

A combination of black sesame seeds and dal, daieneiiong is a staple dish from Meghalaya.  The dal is boiled and sesame seeds are roasted separately.  They are combined and cooked until the dish achieves its distinct flavor.

5. Misa Mach Poora

Misa mach poora
Culinary Xpress

The cuisine of Mizoram is predominantly non-vegetarian.  To prepare misa mach poora, shrimp is wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted on charcoal in the open.  Local spices are then added for seasoning.  It is a simple dish served with steaming, fluffy rice and forms an integral part of Mizo cuisine.

6. Tungtap 


Tungtap is a savory dry-fish chutney originating from Meghalaya.  Generally eaten with rice and mashed potato, tungtap is a favorite among many ethnic groups in the northeast and people from parts of Bangladesh.

7. Bal Mithai 

Bal Mithai
Place of Origin

Bal mithai is a type of dessert from Almora in Uttarakhand.  It is made from khoa, which is whole milk that has been thickened by heating in a pan.  It is fudge-like in texture and is coated with small balls of sugar before being served.  The dessert is sold in the form of cubes, wrapped in oak leaves.

8. Chhena Gaja

Chhena Gaja
Odisha Gifts

Chhena gaja is a sweet from Odisha.  Although the ingredients are similar to rasagolla, which is popular all over India, chhena gaja, sadly, is little known outside Odisha. To make this sweet, a mixture of semolina and cottage cheese is kneaded and dried.  Then, it is shaped, boiled, deep-fried, and drenched in sugar syrup.

9. Masor Tenga

Masor tenga
Jayati’s Food Journey

Masor tenga, a tangy fish curry, is a signature dish from Assamese cuisine.  Lime or tomato is added to the fish to give it the tanginess.  It is eaten with steamed rice and fresh green chilies.

10. Thukpa

Food For Your Mood

Thukpa is a popular Tibetan noodle soup.  It is also the traditional dish among the Monpa tribe in Arunachal Pradesh.  This mildly flavored dish has meat and local vegetables added to it, making it a complete meal.


Editor’s note:

How well do you think you know the different types of Indian flatbreads?  Test your knowledge here: Tasted All 13 Indian Flatbreads?


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