Sanpiau: Mizoram’s Favourite Bowl Of Rice Porridge With Crispy Toppings
Image Credit: Facebook/Venky Sram and Mizo Diner

Colourful homes artfully stacked on hills make Mizoram every photographer’s delight. This landlocked state of Northeast India is a primarily agrarian economy that relies on jhum cultivation as well as horticulture and bamboo products industry. Cut to its culinary landscape, Mizo folks are traditionally rice eaters, while an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian ingredients are added to every delicacy. Food is often cooked in less oil and spice, while Mizos love their fish, chicken and pork on the side. 

Popular sides in their traditional cuisine include Bai, in which herbs are cooked with ferns and string beans; Rep is smoked meat flavoured with greens, local herbs and chilies; Chhum han is a simple steamed vegetables dish; Hmarcha Rawt is a tangy and spicy chilli chutney; and Bekang is fermented soya beans. A quick trip to a Mizo household will also introduce you to Chhangban, sticky rice cakes; Artui Chhipchhuan Chow, noodles with a fried egg on top; and Sawhchiar, rice pilaf made with vegetarian ingredients. 

Another dish which is considered a significant part of traditional Mizo food is Sanpiau. Simply put, it’s a rice porridge served with freshly cut spring onions, herbs, black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander paste, salt and a spicy fish sauce or meat broth. Usually, short-grain rice is used for this dish, which is either soaked overnight or for about two-three hours before cooking. Most people use a pressure cooker to prepare this dish, but some kitchens also prefer traditional pots. The fresh and crispy toppings make the Sanpiau a wholesome bowl of delicious comfort food that every Mizo loves to the core. Nutritious and filling, this dish is known for its watery consistency. People in the state prefer it both for lunch and snack time. 

It is believed that Sanpiau has its roots in Myanmar. It is a type of the Burmese congee, called Hysan Byok, while many also regard this dish as a version of Chinese Congee. 

So, the next time you’re making a trip to the northeastern part of India and happen to visit Mizoram, take some time out to sample this rice porridge bowl amid the breathtakingly beautiful vistas of this hilly state.