Jet black and full of bold flavours. This sesame and pork dish is a feast for all the senses.
Simplicity can sometimes be the most direct route to delicious. You don’t always need a roster of ingredients the length of the Nile to justify the worth or quality of a dish. Few Indian cultures understand this phenomenon as well as those of the Northeast. Meghalaya in particular is a state of varied customs that differ between the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hill systems and the tribes that belong to each region. But all have one core similarity which is a respect for local ingredients and a love for letting them shine through.
Another person that understands and champions this approach to food is Chef Oindrila Bala - social media superstar and best known for her spectacular run on Masterchef India Season 6. Though she came away from the show with the title of Dessert Queen for her impressive baking abilities, when it comes to her personal life, she prefers exploring the nuances of regional cuisines. Chef Bala finds herself particularly drawn to northeastern fare, “I feel that it’s something that’s a mystery. There aren’t many books or people who know about it so it gives rise to curiosity for me.”
The dish she’s sharing with us today is Dohneiiong, a famous pork and sesame dish of Khasi culture and made in their signature minimalist style. “I love learning about northeastern food,” adds Chef Bala, “and this is one that I thought I’d try because it seemed simple, straightforward, but delicious and it turned out really, really yummy!” And therein lies the secret to Khasi flavours, that basic ingredients don’t translate to basic flavours. The interplay of earthy sesame with the smoky spice of dry red chillies leaves is just as thrilling from the first bite to the last.