Traditional Taste Of Andaman, Explore The Island's Food
Image Credit: Unsplash

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are inhabited by a lot of tribal communities that have remained intact to their age-old traditions even today. There are a lot of indigenous tribes such as the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarwa and Sentinalese all of which have very different food traditions that have collectively contributed towards constituting the food culture of Andaman. Let's see how these tribal communities of the island have influenced the food practices and cooking techniques in the region.

* Seafood Dishes

Being an island, Andaman and Nicobar always have an abundance of seafood available. Seafood including fish and prawns is a staple diet of many tribes on the island. You will find an array of fresh catches every day that includes crabs, lobsters, molluscs and a lot of other things. There are unique cooking methods for all of the sea foods, including smoking, open fires, cooking in bamboo, shoots and grilling. All of these methods add aromatic and smoky flavours to the seafood. The people of this island are very reliant on the natural bounty and refrain from using anything imported from the outside.

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* Use Of Local Herbs

The tribal communities in Andaman and Nicobar Island use locally available herbs and spices, including wild Basil, pandanus leaves and the local variety of ginger and turmeric that has a different flavour from what we get in the other parts of the country. All of these herbs and spices are directly taken from the forests and used directly in the preparation of food. This gives the food a very layered and raw taste. The food is appetising and at the same time, you're able to feel the influence of tribal cooking techniques.

* Foods In Restaurants 

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are famous tourist destinations because of which a lot of hotels and restaurants have been opened on the islands. Even though all these islands serve contemporary dishes to tourists, you will still sense elements of indigenous cooking and even north Indian or Italian food that you eat. This is because even the contemporary cuisine made on the island is cooked by using local herbs and spices. Tribal cooking techniques are used in cooking these dishes that add an Island touch to these dishes. All of this has led to the development of a localised contemporary cuisine. The dishes are inspired by different states of India or even from different parts of the world but are given a local island touch.

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* Influence Of Different Tribes

The Great Andamanese Tribe is very small in population but still holds its culinary traditions very intact. The food practices of this community are heavily dependent on smoking and grilling fish over open fires. Additionally, they also used to eat wild fruits, indigenous vegetables and other naturally available edible items available on the island. The Onge and Jarwa tribes were initially the hunters and gatherers. They used to consume edible plants, roots and tubers from dense forests. A lot of dishes in the community are fruit-based stews that are cooked in earthen pots or bamboo. The Nicobarese people have a cuisine that is characterised by a strong usage of coconut-based curries and uniquely prepared rice. One of the most famous dishes called Galho is prepared by mixing rice and vegetables along with meat in a dense coconut milk curry. The majority of the diet of these people consists of forest products and hunting game. 

* Other States

The cuisine of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also inspired by the food from other famous South Indian states and West Bengal. The population living in Andaman and Nicobar island belongs to different religions and there are people from Hindu, Muslim, Christian and even Sikh communities inhabiting the island. This has led to a fusion of flavours and in recent years people have been introduced to a lot of new dishes. You will find a great variety of mangoes, pineapple, bananas and a lot of other tropical fruits on this island. Most of the beverages made on the island have dominant flavours of the regionally available fruits.

Although Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a very strong cultural and culinary identity, it is at risk of being exposed to outer world dominance and westernisation. This is the reason why we should all collectively contribute towards safeguarding the precious recipes and food practices of the island so that future generations can also experience this rich tapestry and unique flavours of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.