The newest edition of The Hills Festival takes a deep dive into Jaiñtia cuisine with the help of forage aisles, chef interactions and a fun cookout contest where local talents can showcase recipes passed through generations
The Hills Festival is back with its fourth edition set to be held on December 1 and 2. The independent food and music festival is set against the backdrop of Umiam Lake in Umbir village to showcase the vibrant culture of Meghalaya and Jaiñtia cuisine. This year, the line-up features artistes such as Nikhil D'Souza, BLOT!, Reble, Parimal Shais, Roman Kyn, Anoushka Maskey, Kreon and more.
Like last year, the festival is bringing back its Forage Aisle which highlights indigenous ingredients sourced from the Pnar community of the Jaiñtia Hills, including traditional herbs, honey and locally harvested spices. Last year, The Hills Festival collaborated with The Locavore and NESFAS to work with the local community to source indigenous foraged foods and wild edibles and share insights about their usage. The event also featured local chefs Artet Kharsati, Lesitta Marak, Dakiwanri Warjri, Amedaki Laloo, Benny Wankhar and Fufu Pamei who curated an elaborate menu.
The 2022 edition also featured Mumbai-based chef Thomas Zacharias aka Chef TZac (the founder of The Locavore), who along with local chefs created a multi-course culinary experience featuring delicacies like Pomelo & Water Celery Salad, Smoked Pork in Betel Leaves with Tree Tomato Salsa Crispy Dried Anchovies with Perilla Seeds, Duck Nei-ïong, Sohphlang & Vegetable Stew, Sticky rice with starfruit compote, creme anglais and sohïong syrup etc.
This year too local chefs will share stories and anecdotes about native ingredients, providing a deeper understanding of the cultural significance attached to each ingredient. Attendees will also get a chance to sample and cook with some authentic Jaintia flavours. The festival is also set to host a community cookout, called the Pig Out Affair contest, where local chefs will go head-to-head to showcase their skills with pork recipes, be it succulent grilled cuts or aromatic stews.
This event is meant as a celebration of Meghalaya's love affair with pork, which has been an important part of local culinary traditions and will balance modern culinary creations with traditional recipes passed down through generations.
"The Pig Out Affair is a celebration of Meghalaya's diverse culinary landscape and our deep-rooted connection with pork. The participating chefs are sharing stories and traditions through their craft, offering attendees a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Meghalaya's food culture. Similarly, the Forage Aisle is a window into the soul of Jaiñtia cuisine, preserving traditions, showcasing the incredible biodiversity of Meghalaya, and fostering a deeper appreciation for the culinary heritage that defines us," shares Sahil Majaw, the founder of HYPE (Helping Young People Entertainment), the brand behind the festival.