From Zutho To Sekhmai Yu: A Tour Of Northeast's Best Beverages
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The Northeastern region of India is a melting pot of diverse cultures, traditions, and flavours. From the mighty Himalayan Mountains to the lush green valleys, the region is blessed with natural beauty and a rich agricultural heritage. In addition to its delicious food, the region also has a long-standing tradition of brewing and consuming a wide variety of beverages.  

These drinks not only serve to quench thirst and provide relief from the hot and humid climate but also offer a glimpse into the local culture and customs. From traditional brewing methods to the use of unique ingredients, the beverages of Northeastern cuisine are as fascinating as they are delicious. In this article, we will delve into the delicious world of Northeastern beverages. 

Sekhmai Yu 

Sekhmai Yu is a traditional and popular beverage from the state of Manipur in Northeast India. The drink is known for its unique flavour and health benefits. The main ingredient in Sekhmai Yu is fresh bamboo shoots, which are boiled in water along with a variety of aromatic herbs and spices. The mixture is then left to ferment for several days, resulting in a distinct sour flavour and a fizzy texture. 

In Manipur, Sekhmai Yu is often consumed during festivals and special occasions. It is served cold and is considered a refreshing and healthy drink. The fermentation process is believed to enhance the nutritional value of bamboo shoots and also aid in digestion. 

The recipe for Sekhmai Yu varies from household to household and can include a range of ingredients such as ginger, garlic, coriander, mustard seeds, and chillies. The herbs and spices are added for their medicinal properties as well as to enhance the flavour of the drink. 

The flavour of Sekhmai Yu is complex and layered, with the sourness of the bamboo shoots balanced by the spicy and earthy notes of the herbs and spices. The fizzy texture adds a refreshing effervescence to the drink and makes it a popular choice during hot and humid weather. 


Apang is a popular indigenous beverage from the northeastern state of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which is consumed by the local communities during festivals and social gatherings. It is a fermented rice beer that is known for its unique taste and aroma. The traditional method of making Apang involves soaking rice in water for a few hours, then draining the water and spreading the rice out on a mat or basket to dry.  

Once the rice is completely dry, it is then roasted in a wok or pan until it turns brown. The roasted rice is then ground into a fine powder and mixed with water to make a paste. This paste is then mixed with more water and left to ferment for several days, which gives the beverage its characteristic tangy and slightly sour taste. The process of fermentation is often aided by adding some herbs or other ingredients to the mixture.  

The final product is a slightly cloudy, yellowish beverage that is served at room temperature. The consumption of Apang is not only a part of the cultural heritage of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam but also a symbol of hospitality and bonding between the locals. 


Zutho is a traditional alcoholic beverage from Nagaland, a northeastern state in India. It is made by fermenting rice with yeast for several days. Zutho has been an integral part of the Naga culture and is usually consumed during social gatherings, festivals, and other celebratory events. The beverage is popularly known as 'Naga rice beer' and has a distinct flavour and aroma that sets it apart from other alcoholic beverages. 

The process of making Zutho involves soaking rice in water for a few hours and then boiling it until it is soft. The cooked rice is then cooled and mixed with yeast, which is usually obtained from the previous batch of Zutho. The mixture is then kept in a large container and covered with banana leaves or any other material to prevent contamination. 

The fermentation process of Zutho can take up to a week, depending on the climate and temperature of the surroundings. During this time, the mixture is stirred occasionally to ensure proper fermentation. The resulting beverage has a slightly sour taste and a mild alcoholic content, usually ranging from 3-5 percent. 

Zutho is considered an important part of the Naga culture and is often served during community events and gatherings. The beverage is also believed to have medicinal properties and is used as a remedy for various ailments. The production and consumption of Zutho are deeply ingrained in the social fabric of Nagaland, and the beverage continues to be a significant aspect of the state's cultural heritage. 


Chhaang is a traditional alcoholic beverage that is popular in the Northeastern region of India, particularly in the states of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and parts of Assam. It is a fermented drink made from millet, rice, or barley grains, which are soaked in water and then boiled. The boiled mixture is cooled down to room temperature, and then a small amount of yeast or starter culture is added to initiate the fermentation process. The drink is usually consumed during festivals and social gatherings and is known for its slightly sweet and sour taste. Chhaang has a relatively low alcohol content, usually ranging from 2 percent to 5 percent, making it a mild alcoholic beverage. It is often served hot in a bamboo container with a bamboo straw. Chhaang is an integral part of the local culture and tradition of the Northeastern region, and its consumption is a symbol of hospitality and camaraderie. 


Kiad is a popular traditional drink from the state of Meghalaya in North-East India. It is made from fermented rice and is commonly consumed during festivals and special occasions. The process of making Kiad involves soaking rice in water for several hours and then draining and drying it. The dried rice is then ground into a coarse powder and mixed with water to form a thick batter. This batter is then allowed to ferment for a few days, which gives Kiad its distinct sour taste and aroma. 

Once the fermentation is complete, the Kiad batter is mixed with water to achieve the desired consistency and served in earthen pots or glasses. Sometimes, sugar or jaggery is added to balance out the sourness of the drink. Kiad is also sometimes flavoured with ginger, lemon juice, or other herbs and spices to enhance its taste. 

Kiad is not only a refreshing beverage, but it is also believed to have several health benefits. It is said to aid digestion, boost immunity, and even prevent certain ailments. In Meghalaya, Kiad is also used in traditional medicine to treat certain illnesses and ailments. 


Chuwarak is a traditional alcoholic beverage from the state of Mizoram in northeast India. It is typically made from rice, yeast, and water, and has a slightly sour and tangy taste. The fermentation process can take several days or weeks, depending on the desired strength and flavour of the Chuwarak. Once the fermentation is complete, the drink is strained and served at room temperature. 

Chuwarak has been a popular beverage in Mizoram for centuries and is often served on special occasions and festivals. It is also sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat digestive issues and other ailments. In recent years, Chuwarak has gained popularity outside of Mizoram and can now be found in some speciality shops and online retailers. Its unique flavour and cultural significance make it a must-try for anyone interested in exploring the diverse culinary traditions of northeast India. 

Xaj Pani

Xaj Pani is a popular traditional beverage from Assam, a state located in the northeastern region of India. The name "Xaj Pani" literally means "sour water" in Assamese, and it is made by fermenting boiled rice water with some natural sweeteners and herbs. The sweeteners used in the preparation of Xaj Pani vary from region to region and can include jaggery, molasses, or sugar. The herbs and spices commonly used in the preparation of Xaj Pani include ginger, black pepper, and lemon leaves, which give the drink its distinctive aroma and flavour. Xaj Pani is a refreshing and cooling drink that is often consumed during hot summer days in Assam. It is also believed to have various health benefits, including aiding digestion and boosting the immune system.