Exploring The Gems From Mizoram's Cuisine

Mizoram is home to 5 Mizo tribes who have collectively determined the culture and food of the land. The tribes, believed to be of Tibeto-Burman descent, are thought to have migrated to their present location between the 8th and the 15th centuries. They reside on the borders of Indian and Chinese cultural frontiers, and their culture as well as cuisine reflects a blend of these influences. Rice is the staple food of Mizoram and meat forms an important component in their diet. Unlike the elaborate recipes in other parts of India, Mizo cuisine is uncomplicated. Traditional recipes are minimalistic in terms of spices, oil and other ingredients, perhaps a reflection of their tribal roots.

Mizoram's most popular foods are the delicious Bai, the Bamboo Shoot Fry and Bekang. Zu is a popular local drink in the state with a colorful history of its own. Fish and other meats like pork and beef find many takers here. Get way from the urban areas and you’ll see rural Mizo folk using banana leaves to serve many of the popular dishes. The cuisine favors mustard oil to impart a distinct flavor and richness. Mizo food isn’t shy of using spices when the occasion calls for (Mizo chili, anyone?) it but chooses to be subtler for everyday cooking.  

Bai (or Mizo Bai)

This is your first stop in Mizo cuisine. It is a stew prepared with pork, bamboo shoots and steamed vegetables. To enhance the flavor, local spices and herbs are used. Bai is the signature dish of the Mizo people, much loved for its nutrition and a great choice for people who enjoy pork. It also has a vegetarian version that can include any available veggies. Bai can also be made in the form or a soup.  


                        Image credits: Youtube

This is another popular dish made with pork. Local herbs and spices are used to prepare the meat, which is sometimes cut into cube-shaped pieces. This is grilled over a high flame and smoke. The unique smokey flavor of the meat blends splendidly with spices and oyster sauce. This is an underrated dish that deserves more love from foodies. 

Bamboo Shoot Fry

This is another must-try. Bamboo shoots grow all over the northeast, and, inevitably, find their way into the food. They’re very healthy too: bamboo shoots are low in calories, sugar, and fat, and high in fibre. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals and are known to provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Easy to make, this involves frying bamboo shoots with a mixture of various herbs, and even mushrooms if you like. Eaten with rice, this is a popular meal across the state.  

Panch Phoron Tarkari

This is a melange of spices. Paanch phoron means five spices & Tarkari, of course, means vegetables. The five spices generally used are methi (fenugreek), saunf (fennel), jeera (cumin), nigella seeds and mustard. Brinjal, pumpkin and potato are the most commonly added to the mix and cooked on a medium to low flame to avoid ‘overcooking’ the spices.  

Koat Pitha

                           Image credits: Archana's kitchen

This is made with rice and bananas. Think banana fritters or pakoras. Some Malayalis claim this is similar to Kerala’s unniyappam, and a cursory google search leads one to agree. Dissolve some jaggery in water, then mix it with mashed bananas and rice flour. Deep fry the batter in oil until it turns a rich brown. Koat pitha is usually taken as a snack with hot tea in Mizoram. 

Chhum Han 

This is a good choice for health-conscious individuals. Carrots, cauliflower, and cabbage are steamed until tender, then mixed lightly with ginger along with tomatoes for a layer of traditional flavoring. It’s really that simple. The cauliflower can be swapped out for broccoli if you want to make it healthier.  


This is comfort food in Mizoram. A rice congee, this dish is cooked with country chicken. This is a common recipe in the region. Across the border, in Myanmar, you’ll find a very similar dish named Sanpiao. The Mizo sometimes sanpiau sauce, which is made using spring onions and chili flakes, though this porridge is usually had with little oil or spice, like much of the northeastern cuisine. These days, some cooks sprinkle a bit of fried noodles as a crisp topping. Black pepper and coriander are also sprinkled to garnish the finished product.  

Mizo Dal and Eggs 

A healthy & nutritious burst of protein that’s much loved in Mizoram. Meat may be the main source of protein in the state but people also dig into dal and eggs often. The title says it all: boiled eggs added to dal that’s been cooked with garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Different spices are also added to tweak the taste. Mizo dal and eggs is usually served with hot rice and some pickle on the side. Simple, full-flavored, filling, healthy. What’s not to love about this?


The perfect local brew to enjoy with your Mizo meal, Zu is made from fermented rice, millets or maize. Zu has traditionally been a part of social ceremonies in Mizoram since a long time but was banned under a statewide prohibition law from 1997 to 2013. Following the repeal of prohibition in 2015, Zu is once again available to the public and is back on the must-do list of Mizo specialties. 


One of the best dishes from Mizoram, Sawhchiar consists of rice cooked with bayleaf (tej patta in Hindi) and chicken. The meat is given a smokey flavor, and bits of cardamom and pepper are added for a spicy twist. Sawhchiar is also made with pork or mutton. It is a regular feature in Mizoram on festive occasions, not a surprise given how filling and delicious it is. 


Bekang is a fermented soybean dish. It is the one deep-fried items on this list that reminds us of conventional Indian cooking: oil, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic...the works. Soybean or axone is fermented and added to the curry in the pan, then allowed to cook for a further 15 minutes until it gets that distinct dark brown color and the strong aroma of a well-made Bekang.