Broken Fish Curry: Nga Atoiba Thongba, A Must-Try Manipuri Dish
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Manipuri cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Manipur region, located in Northeast India. It is known for its unique flavours and the use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. One of the highlights of Manipuri cuisine is its seafood dishes, especially the fish dishes. Manipuri fish dishes are a staple in the local diet, and they are cooked in a variety of ways.

Translating to ‘broken fish curry’, Nga Atoiba Thongba is a favourite among the Meitri community and is a Manipuri ode to seafood. Made with a variety of vegetables and a spicy gravy this fish curry is totally unique/ The fish is usually unmarinated and lightly tossed in the sauce to break it down naturally and permeate the dish. Traditionally the fish is cooked with the bones and skin for a more intense flavour, but most people prefer to remove them when making the dish at home.

The type of fish varies as per region, but flakier freshwater fish like tilapia and basa are preferred. A variety of spices help build depth in the curry as well as a few local ingredients that give it a distinctive Manipuri edge. Maru maraang, a mixture of toasted, powdered cumin and coriander seeds and maroi napakpi, (chive roots). 


  • 350 g tilapia 
  • 10 baby onions 
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thick piece of ginger
  • 5 fresh chillies 
  • Maroi napaakpi/hooker chive roots (optional)
  • ⅓ cup green peas.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp maru maraang powder
  • A pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • Coriander
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash and chop the onions, potatoes and tomatoes into equal cubes.
  • Pound the garlic, ginger and maori napaakpi roots if using into a rough paste.
  • Clean and prep your fish and cut it into cubes.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and add the hing. 
  • After a few seconds add the bay leaf.
  • When that’s fragrant, add in the onions and let them soften.
  • Toss in the potatoes and cook everything together until the onions start to brown.
  • Now add the pounded garlic, ginger and maroi napaakpi roots.
  • Fry this for 30 seconds and then add the turmeric and red chilli powder.
  • After a minute add the chopped tomatoes, green peas, fresh chillies and salt to taste.
  • Mix well before adding in the fish. 
  • Before the fish cooks, make sure it’s coated in the spices and ingredients.
  • Add 1 ½ cups of water and bring the dish to a boil.
  • Cover it with a lid and let it cook on high heat for 10 minutes. 
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with white rice.