Garo Cuisine, The Tribal Taste Of Meghalaya
Image Credit: Garo rice with beef curry, Image Source:oye_food @Instagram

The Garos, also known as Achiks, are Meghalaya's second-largest tribe. They are the dominant tribe and occupy most of the current Ampati Civil Sub-Division. This tribal culinary fare has evolved significantly throughout the years. Rice remains a staple dish, but they consume millet, maize, tapioca, and other grains and have a fairly diverse diet. The Garos raise goats, pigs, fowl, ducks, and other animals for consumption. Meat is still an essential part of the tribe's diet as hunters, although the days of sport hunting, elephants and even tigers are passed. As a result, their meals now primarily consist of chicken, pork, and fish. Their diet also includes fish, crabs, eels, and dry fish. Their jhum fields and forests supply a variety of veggies and roots for their cuisine. Bamboo shoots are considered a delicacy.

Let's explore the rustic flavours.

Medicinal herbs importance

The indigenous cuisine counts medicinal plants as an integral part. These herbs are added to dishes to help treat diseases such as headaches and high blood pressure. Kalchi, for example, is a common element in local cooking. It's a natural alkali made from banana or cotton ash commonly used in recipes like do'o kappa, a famous chicken sauce. These meaty recipes are sometimes served with green beans or eggplant on the side and minil, sticky rice steamed in banana leaves.

Wak brenga, or pork, stuffed inside a bamboo pipe with water with a local herb, sam-sweng (meaning "smelly" or "pungent"), green chillies, ginger, and salt. Most foods are boiled or steamed rather than cooked with oil.

Cultivation practices of Garo

The Garo tribe used to subsist on jhum or slash-and-burn agriculture. Considering the tribe's limited number and extensive access to land, they would clear sections, plant crops, and then shift to another patch of land after the harvest. However, with the introduction of environmental awareness, they have moved to permanent farm plots.


Garos cook with a type of potash obtained by burning dry pieces of plantain stems or young bamboo called Kalchi or Katchi locally. After being burned, the ashes are collected, dipped in water, and strained through a bamboo strainer with a conical form. Nowadays, most town residents substitute soda for this ash water from the market.

Wak Tangsek Pura  

Garo pork curry, Image Source: missgarofoodie@Instagram

Tangsek Wak Pura, or cooking pig with green vegetables, is one of Garos' favourite recipes. Finely ground rice and indigenous soda are the primary elements that lend this dish its distinct flavour.

Do∙o Kapa  

Do o kapa, Image Source: Instagram 

Doo Kapa is a delicious treat that is preferred in most Garo households. It's a chicken meal made with local soda. Typically eaten with rice, this meal's flavour is improved by using fresh herbs such as coriander and chillies.

 Na∙kam Bitchi

Garo Dry fish curry, Image Courtesy: Instagram

Dry fish is characteristic of Garo cuisine. Therefore, it would be incomplete without Nakam Bitchi. This dry fish gravy is a popular delicacy. The spicy flavour of this meal, served with rice, adds to its enticing lusciousness.

Sobok Chatni

Sobok Chatni, or chutney, is also known as Mekin. This traditional Garo dish is prepared with banana flowers and served as a side dish to most Garo meals. This nutritionally dense Sobok Chatni is a delicious treat.


A Garo man preparing chubitchi, Image Source:

During one of its most important harvest festivals, Wangala, chubitchi or chubok (Garo rice beer) takes centre stage. On this ceremony's second day, a ritual known as 'rugala' is held in which special chubitchi  is offered to the deity. Rice beer is the most significant staple during almost every celebration. The party will last as long as the beer is flowing. A distinct shaped pot is used to brew this rice beer.