Fermented food is becoming popular for its many health benefits. For starters it is full of good bacteria or probiotics, it keeps your gut healthy and in turn boosts your immune system and for all those who have a sweet tooth, it curbs your sugar cravings too. Fermented foods like Kimchi, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Miso, Yogurt etc. are ones we have either tried or heard of but how about getting a more adventurous and exploring other lesser known fermented foods? Did you know that fermented food is almost a staple diet in the North East Indian towns?
There are many kinds of fermented products. Locally available materials such as milk, vegetables, bamboo, soybeans, meat, fish and cereals are fermented for consumption.
Gundruk: Fermented Leafy Green Vegetable
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This fermented leafy vegetable is a popular food in Sikkim and Assam. The leaves are allowed to wilt, then it is pounded with a little water and squeezed and packed away in tight lidded jars . When it is suitably fermented the leaves are dried in the sun. These leaves are used to make a soup and is a valuable source of nutrition during monsoon and winter. The gundruk soup almost tastes like rasam that is popular down south.
Kinema: Fermented Soybean
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Kinema is a whole fermented food, which has a sticky texture somewhat similar to Japanese natto and is commonly used to make curry.The beans are soaked then boiled after which they are fermented. Fermentation helps in breaking proteins of the soybeans into easily digestible amino acids. Kinema can be cooked like a dry or soupy curry. Warning : Not everyone likes the smell of Kinema and it takes time to acquire the taste of it too.
Chhurpi: Fermented Raw Milk
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Chhurpi can be made either from cow, yak or goat milk. It looks like exactly like paneer but is tangy and has a certain kind of pungent smell. It is used in a variety of dishes, soups and dumplings. Churrpi is very popular in Bhutan too, the Bhutanese make a dish called Kewa Datshi with churrpi and potatoes.
Bamboo Shoot Pickle: A Unique Flavour
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There are many benefits of eating bamboo shoots and one of the main benefits is it boosts the immune system.They are useful in minerals like potassium ,manganese and copper. During the bamboo season the shoots can be used in a variety of dishes and later they are pickled and this enhances your meals.
If you’ve had an overdose of fried foods this weekend, it’s a great idea to try these fermented foods to keep your gut healthy!