Many years have passed since the preparation of traditional Indian cuisine, which varies across the country. Fermented foods and beverages constitute the foundation of India’s cultural history.
Fermentation is one of the oldest and most cost-effective traditional methods for producing and preserving food. It has been utilised by ancient man as a cost-effective approach for extending the shelf life of fermented foodstuffs since antiquity (foods and beverages).
Traditional processing of fermented foods is one of the world’s oldest microbiological procedures. Traditional fermented foods are defined as those made by indigenous people using their hereditary knowledge and skillful techniques to ferment locally sourced plant and animal ingredients.
Fermented products are produced either spontaneously or with the addition of a starting culture containing effective microorganisms that convert the substrates into edible products that are culturally and socially acceptable to the local population.
Primitive cultures utilised a variety of food preservation techniques to keep surplus food of any origin, particularly seasonal and perishable crops (perishable).
More than 5,000 distinct fermented foods are enjoyed by varied populations around the world, many of which are indigenous and produced in tiny quantities to fulfil the needs of local cultures.
Since time immemorial, fermented foods have been an important part of the Indian diet since fermentation is a cheap method of preserving food, boosting its nutritional value, and enhancing its sensory aspects.
Fermentation involves the action of microbes that play a crucial role in the improvement of organoleptic qualities, enrichment, health-promoting features, and preservation of food products. The microorganisms involved in fermentation are probiotic, meaning they provide health benefits to the user and are a vital component of the gut microflora.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are the most prevalent microorganisms and play a critical role in the preservation and manufacture of nutritious fermented foods.
Homofermentative and heterofermentative microorganisms are present in fermented food products. Lactic acid bacteria, which grow rapidly on most food substrates and decrease the pH of the food to a point where other organisms cannot thrive, are homofermentative.
Fermentation also enhances digestion, breaks down complex carbs into simpler ones, increases the bioavailability of important amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, and boosts the overall quality, flavour, and scent of the meal.
Fermented foods function as neutraceutical agents that confer health benefits. Protein and vitamin deficits are the primary issues in third-world countries; therefore, providing these nations with fermented products can satisfy their need for the important amino acid found in foods with higher nutrient content.
Additionally, fermented food products aid in maintaining the health of celiac microbiota, which play a vital role in preventing a variety of diseases and sustain physiological equilibrium.
Fermented food products are also naturally energised and beneficial foods. There are numerous types of fermented products on the market, and they can be classed according to the type of food that has been fermented.
I cereal-based (with/without pulses) fermented foods, (ii) cereal/pulse and buttermilk-based fermented food, (iii) cereal-based fermented sweets and snacks, (iv) milk-based fermented foods, (v) vegetable, bamboo shoot (BS), and unripe fruits-based fermented foods, (vi) meat-based fermented foods, and (vii) pulse (legume)-based fermented
In addition to this classification, fermented foods can vary by geography. As the region changes, so do the eating habits of the people and the ways in which various foodstuffs are fermented. India is divided into a number of distinct regions.
Dahi (Sanskrit: dadhi) is a popular fermented milk product from India that resembles plain yoghurt in appearance and texture.
It is well-liked by consumers because of its unusual flavour and reputed nutritional and medicinal qualities.
It is utilised in numerous Indian culinary recipes in various forms.
The Indians have devised bacterial and yeast fermentation techniques for leavening grain and legume batters.
People in the Middle East discovered that combining sour milk with wheat produced dehydrated soup components with superior nutritional content and good preservation properties.
The nutritional content of cereal- and legume-based fermented mixed products is complementary.
Idli and dosa, traditional cuisines of South India, are made from rice and beans and have a lengthy history, although not every detail can be documented.
The poet Chavundaraya defined Idli as urad dal (black gramme) soaked in buttermilk, pounded into a fine paste, mixed with the clear water of curds, cumin, coriander, pepper, and asafetida, and then formed.
The Manasollasa, composed in Sanskrit around 1130 A.D., depicts idli as consisting of fine urad flour formed into little balls, fried in ghee, and then seasoned with pepper powder, cumin powder, and asafoetida.
Dosa is a rice and black gramme batter-based crepe that was first mentioned in the Tamita Sangam literature about the sixth century A.D.
In 1066 A.D., pulses were first used to make dhokla, a steam-cooked fermented spicy cake.
Since more than a century ago, dried spicy hollow balls known as warries have been produced in northern India.
They are made from fermented black gramme paste for three to ten days.
In India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, the staple breads nan, bhatura, and kulcha are produced from fermented wheat dough and are flattened.
Fermented Leafy Vegetables
Ziang sang/Ziang dui
Nagalanders and Manipuris consume fermented green vegetables. During the winter months, Ziang-sang is cooked.
Two- to three-day-old withered hangam (Brassica sp.) leaves are crushed using a traditional wooden mortar and pestle, soaked in warm water, and then squeezed to remove the water.
The contents are placed in an airtight container and allowed to undergo semisolid fermentation at room temperature (20-30°C) for 7-10 days.
The juice is removed by hand from the fermented product, and the paste is sun-dried for four to five days.
This is known as ziang-sang and can be preserved for more than one year. The liquid portion is concentrated by boiling and can be preserved for more than a year in traditional bamboo containers.
This section is known as ziang-dui. Ziang-sang is served as a soup with steamed rice, whereas ziang-dui is used as a condiment.
Nepalese in Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Nepal enjoy this sort of fermented radish (Raphanus sativus L.).
During the winter months, when the weather is least humid and there is an abundance of this vegetable, it is prepared. Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, and Lactobacillus fermentum are the microorganisms involved in its fermentation.
The fresh taproots of radish are washed and sun-dried for one to two days until they become tender.
Then, using a heavy wooden pestle, they are shredded, soaked in lukewarm water, pressed, and packed securely into an earthen jar.
The jar is covered with radish leaves and sealed with an earthen lid. It is then stored for 15 to 30 days in a warm, dry environment.
Alternately, a 1 metre deep and 1 metre wide hole is dug in a dry area. By igniting a fire, this gets cleansed and dried. While still hot, the ashes are removed and the sides are covered with mud.
The structure is then wrapped on all sides with dried bamboo, banana, or radish leaves. The shredded roots are packed tightly into this hole, which is then filled with dried leaves and weighted down with stones or wooden boards.
The top is then coated with mud or cow manure and let to ferment for 30 to 40 days.
The fermented mass is then removed, sliced into little pieces, and sun-dried for three to five days. This product can be stored for at least two years at room temperature when frequently exposed to sunlight.
Sinki has a very acidic flavour, a pH of 4.4, a protein and fat composition of 14.6 g and 2.5 g on a dry-weight basis, and is used as a soup and pickle base. It is considered a nice appetiser and is used to treat indigestion.
Gundruk, a fermented vegetable product indigenous to the Himalayan area of Nepal, is marketed by Nepalese women in the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim.
Commonly cooked during the winter months of October through December, when perishable greens are abundant.
The majority of these veggies are mustard leaves (Brasicca juncea), rayo-sag (Brasicca rapa), cauliflower (Brasicca oleracea), radishes (Raphanus sativus), and a few other locally cultivated vegetables.
Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Pediococcus pennsaceus, Pediococcus acidilactici, and Leuconostoc fallax are the primary and most prevalent microbes in gundruk.
Fresh leaves of the chosen vegetables are first wilted and shredded with a sickle or knife prior to fermentation. These are then lightly crushed and pressed into a clay vessel.
The jar is then sealed and allowed to ferment at room temperature for seven to ten days.
After the incubation period, the leaves acquire a little acidic flavour, indicating that fermentation is complete.
The gundruk is then extracted and sun-dried for three to four days to facilitate storage. It is typically consumed as a soup or a pickle.
The soup that is made by combining gundruk with specific ingredients is an excellent starter.
The Sherpa tribe in the hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling ferment the leaves of the wild shrub magane-saag (Cardamine macrophylla wild).
Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactococcus lactis, Enterococcus faecium, and Pediococcus pentosaceus are known to be present in the product.
During the rainy season, there are an abundance of magane-saag leaves, which are collected, rinsed, chopped, and squeezed to eliminate extra moisture.
The leaves are then compressed tightly within a bamboo basket lined with two to three layers of fig (Ficus carica) leaves.
The top of the basket is also covered with fig leaves and allowed to ferment for one month at room temperature (15–25°C).
The goyang may then be put to an airtight container for storage for two to three months.
Additionally, the substance may be formed into balls and sun-dried, which often extends its shelf life.
Locally, goyang is boiled with beef or yak meat and noodles to create the cuisine thupka, which resembles a thick soup. Anishi It is indigenous to the state of Nagaland, and the Ao tribe is primarily responsible for its preparation.
For this dish, leaves of edible yam (Colocasia spp.) are utilised. Fresh mature green leaves are gathered and well cleansed.
They are then stacked atop one another and wrapped in a banana leaf. The leaves are left for around 6 to 7 days until they turn yellow.
The yellow leaves are then mashed with a mixture of salt, chiles, and ginger. This paste is then formed into cakes and stored over the kitchen fireplace. After two to three days of drying, they become edible.
It is typically used as a condiment and cooked with dry meat, particularly pork.
Khalpi is a product of the Indian states of Sikkim and Darjeeling. Nepalese Brahmins of the Bahun and Chettri castes typically prepare this dish for domestic consumption.
This cucumber product contains the microorganisms Lactobacillus plantarum, L. brevis, and Lecuonostoc fallax. For this preparation of khalpi, cucumbers are sliced into specific sizes and sun-dried for two days.
They are then sealed in bamboo jars known as dhungroo. Four to seven days are permitted for fermentation at room temperature.
The product can be stored in airtight containers for approximately one week. It is consumed as a pickle after being combined with mustard oil, chilli peppers, and salt.
Fermented Fish Products
The fermented fish product known as ngari is an integral component of the Manipuri cuisine. Utilizing traditional methods of preservation.
Puntius sophore is the species of fish used in its preparation, and they are utilised in the sun-dried form known as phoubu.
The predominant fermenting organism discovered in samples of ngari is lactic acid bacteria. Lactococcus plan-tarum and Lactobacillus plantarum are the species identified. Additionally, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus, and Miocrococcus sp. have been identified from ngari.
The isolated fungi have been identified as Candida species. The preparation of ngari is confined primarily to tiny homes in rural areas. The whole fishes are cleansed and the intact ones are chosen. They are then sun-dried for three to four days.
When the fish are partially dried, they are rubbed with essential oils such as mustard or fish oil, and a small amount of salt is added to help the fish absorb the oils. The dried fish are either fermented immediately or stored in gunny bags for later use.
When preserved fishes are used for fermentation, they are first rinsed with water in a porous bamboo basket and let to drain overnight.
The fish are then placed in gunny bags and compressed to drain surplus water and fracture the head and bones.
They are then placed in earthen vessels known as chaphus, which have been preserved with mustard oil.
For new pots, eight to ten oil coats are necessary every seven to eight days, whereas just one coating is required for old pots.
The purpose of the oil coating may be to establish an anaerobic environment within the pot. After securely stuffing the fish inside the containers, they are sealed with polyethelene sheets, fish scales, oil smear, dirt, and cow dung slurry.
The mouths of the chaphus are then lined with cover leaves after being filled with cover paste.
The jars are then stored in the dark at room temperature for approximately four to six months. The fermented fish is now ready for ingestion and is also known locally as chaphu kaiba.
It has a distinct odour and a shelf life of 12 to 18 months. The majority of LAB isolates isolated from ngari exhibited a significant degree of hydrophobicity, confirming their probi-otic nature.
It is utilised in the preparation of several delicacies, such as eromba, where it is added after frying or steaming. Additionally, it is served as a side dish with rice.
This is yet another fermented fish product from Manipur. It is available as a paste. Lactobacillus fructosus, L. amylophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus cereus, B. subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, and Candida sp. have been found as bacteria associated with hentak.
For the preparation of hentak, Esomus danricus fishes are first sun-dried. They are then ground into powder using a mortar and pestle.
Petioles of the aroid plant (Alocasia macrorhiza) are cut into little pieces, rinsed with water, and exposed to sunshine for approximately one hour.
Now, equal amounts of both the fish powder and plant material are combined and mashed to form a paste.
These are then formed into little balls and placed in earthenware containers. The fermentation process then occurs at room temperature in these vessels.
After approximately two weeks, the product will be ready for consumption. A few months of storage will solidify these balls, which can then be ground into a paste with a little water and stored as balls for food reserves.
Hentak is taken as both a curry and a side dish with cooked rice. Women in the later stages of pregnancy and patients recovering from illness or accident are sometimes administered this medication.
This is endemic to the Meghalayan Khasi tribe. It is produced in households and villages and sold mostly at weekly markets around the area.
The microorganisms detected in tungtap are Lactobacillus coriniformis, Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus fructosus, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Candida sp., and Saccharomycopsis sp.
For the preparation of tungtap, the species Puntius sophore is utilised. The fish are washed, scaled, and degutted, followed by an initial application of salt to the entire body, both inside and out.
They are then placed in a clay pot, which is then filled with a mixture of salt and either fish or pork fat.
The pot is then wrapped with a banana leaf and secured with a jute cord around the rim.
The vessel is then kept at room temperature for six to seven months. At the conclusion of the incubation period, the knot is untied and the fish is retrieved; excess salt and fat are then removed with a sharp knife.
On a dry-weight basis, the protein and fat contents of tungtap are 40.6% and 19.0%, respectively. Fermentation improves the palatability of tiny fish mostly by softening the bones and enhancing the flavour and texture of the meat.
The final result has a soft, sponge-like consistency and is typically consumed as chutney with green leaves, onions, and chillies. Tungtap is also consumed as a condiment in the form of pickles.
Gnuchi Gnuchi is a smoked and dried fish food enjoyed often by the Lepcha people of Sikkim. Smoked fish is referred to as gnuchi in the Lepcha language.
It is an essential source of protein in the local diet and is cooked using rural people’s indigenous knowledge.
Schizothorax richardsonii Gray, Labeo dero Hamilton, Acrossocheilus spp., Channa spp., etc. are utilised to prepare it. Enterococcus faecium, Pediococcus pentosaceus, Bacillus subtilis, and Micrococcus sp. have been identified as the bacteria linked with gnuchi fermentation.
The fish are placed on a large bamboo tray called a sarhang to drain the water, then degutted and combined with turmeric powder and salt.
The meat is then suspended in a bamboo stripe above the earthen oven and smoked for 7 to 10 days.
It is then fit for consumption. It may be stored at room temperature for two to three months. It is prepared as a curry with veggies and served with rice. It has 21,3 g% protein on a dry-weight basis.
It is a fermented food derived from soybeans. Locally, the soybean (Glycine max) is called as bhatmas, and the cultivars employed are “yellow cultivar” and “dark brown cultivar.”
Sikkim’s Nepalese members of the Limboo and Rai castes cook it in large quantities.
The product is sticky and has an ammonia-like taste. This delicacy’s production technique has been maintained as a hereditary right and passed down from generation to generation.
Bacillus subtilis and Enterococcus faecium undergo natural fermentation to produce this substance.
The fungi Candida parapsilosis and Geotrichum candidum have also been isolated from kinema sold commercially.
To prepare kinema, soy beans are soaked overnight and then boiled to soften them. The surplus water is drained, and the cotyledons are cracked open using a wooden pestle and mortar (okhli) (muslo).
This is done to enhance the rate of fermentation by increasing the surface area. Then, approximately 1% of wood ash is added to maintain an alkaline environment.
Then, the soy grits are placed in a bamboo basket lined with fresh fern (Glaphylopteriolopsis erubescens).
The basket is then covered with a jute sack and left to ferment at ambient temperature (which in Sikkim ranges between 20 and 35 degrees Celsius).
The complete fermentation is indicated by the formation of a white, viscous substance on the soybeans and the discharge of an ammo-niacal odour 1-2 days after the mixture is placed over an earthen oven. It has a shelf life of 2-3 days during the summer and 5-7 days during the winter.
There is a correlation between indigenous understanding of microbiology and the habit of not cleaning the mortar and pestle in order to conserve and replenish microorganisms for spontaneous fermentation without the need of starter cultures.
Due to the prodigious proteolytic activity of Bacillus subtilis, the concentrations of water-soluble nitrogen, formal nitrogen to total nitrogen, and ammonia (as much as 200 mg/100 g) in kinema rapidly increase during fermentation.
This results in the release of free amino acids, which is then followed by deamination. The final pH of the fruit or vegetable may reach 8.6.
It is the primary source of protein in the diets of the inhabitants of this region. Kinema comprises around 48% (dry-weight basis) of crude protein, and roughly 26% of the total amino acid content consists of free amino acids.
Kinema is served with boiling rice as a curry. The curry is made by frying kinema in vegetable oil, then combining it with chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and turmeric powder. Then, they are fried for approximately 2 minutes.
Then, salt and chopped green chilies are added and the mixture is sautéed for three to five minutes. A thick gravy is created by adding a small amount of water and cooking it for 5-7 minutes.
Produced in the state of Manipur, hawaijar is a fermented soy product that is sticky. Its name derives from “hawai,” which means pulses, and “jar,” which is the abbreviated form of “achar,” which means pickle.
Since the previous several decades, it has been an essential part of the Meitei diet. It is believed that the Brahmin community of Manipur initiated the manufacturing and consumption of this delicacy.
In Manipur, soybeans are known as nung hawai (nung = stone, hawai = legumes/pulses), and for the making of hawaijar, two varieties are used: the local variety with little seeds and the larger, round-seeded variety.
The product is covered with a white slimy material and is brown in hue. Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella sciuri, Alkaligenes sp., and Providencia rettger were identified as the major microorganisms in fermented hawaijar.
Soybean seeds are prepared by soaking them overnight, then thoroughly washing and boiling them until they become soft.
Then, they are washed with hot water and carefully packed in a small bamboo basket (lubak) with a lid. The bottom of the basket is composed of fig plant (Ficus hispida) or banana plant (Musa sp.) leaves.
The basket is then wrapped in a jute cloth and placed in the sun, close to a stove, or buried in rice. This facilitates the maintenance of the appropriate fermentation temperature (> 400°C).
After 3-5 days, the fermented product is suitable for eating. The final product has a dark hue, a sticky consistency, and an ammonia-like odour.
The fermented product is then packaged for storage in banana leaves. Three or four days is the shortest shelf life for Hawaijar.
Consequently, the product is occasionally sun-dried for long-term storage. Hawaijar is well-known for its distinctive organoleptic qualities.
Using hawaijar, rice, and other veggies, the Manipuris construct a dish called chagempomba that is considered a delicacy. It is sometimes consumed as a paste containing chilies and salt, known as ametpa.
Occasionally, a fermented fish product known as ngari is added to enhance the flavour. Additionally, Hawaijar is added while cooking other veggies.
The Khasi tribe of Meghalaya creates tungrumbai, which is also a fermented food based on soybeans and is extremely popular. It is an inexpensive source of protein in the diet of the masses and is sticky in nature.
Bacillus subtilis and Enterococcus faecium are the bacterial species connected with tungrumbai fermentation.
Strains of Candida parap-silosis, Saccharomyces bayanus, Saccharomycopsis fibuligera, and Geotrichum candidum have been identified.
It is still a traditional art practised by Khasis at the family level and at numerous centres around the state.
Soybean seeds are cleaned, washed, and soaked in double the quantity of water for four to six hours in order to prepare tungrumbai. The outer bean skins are then eliminated by rubbing the beans between the palms.
The beans are then boiled in the same water for around one hour, until all of the water has been absorbed.
Now that the cooked beans may be easily crushed, they are allowed to cool. They are then positioned on a bamboo basket whose interior is lined with leaves of Clinogyne dichotoma, also known locally as lamet.
The entire basket is then wrapped in lamet leaves or jute sacks to prevent air contact.
They are then fermented either at room temperature (25–40°C) or near a fireplace to provide the required warmth for fermentation.
After three to four days of incubation, the fermented result is typically a brown mass with a distinctive odour.
LAB and yeast, which are fermenting organisms, have been shown to be fed by the water source.
In addition, the raw soybeans and lamet leaves have been discovered to contain some of the bacteria.
On a dry-weight basis, the protein content of tungrumbai has been determined to be 45.9 g%, while the fibre and ash contents are 30.3, 12.8 and 5.5 g%, respectively.
Tungrumbai is typically served alongside rice. For the making of curry, tungrumbai is placed in a pot with water, heated until the water evaporates, and continually stirred.
It is combined with ginger, garlic, chilies, black sesame, and salt.
All of these fermented soybean preparations are known by various names among various tribes. They are made with soybeans.
These samples contain lactic acid bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, and other Bacillus species. To prepare the beans, they are soaked in water, rinsed, and then boiled till soft.
The extra water is subsequently drained away. The cooked beans are then wrapped in banana (Musa spp. ), Phrynium pubinerve Blume, Macaranga indica Wight, or Calliparpa aroria leaves and placed over a fire to maintain the ideal temperature.
The entire fermentation process takes around one week. They are then ready for consumption. It is called in Nagaland as aaknone, in Mizoram as bekang, and among the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh as peruyyan.
For long-term storage, they can be formed into pastes or cakes and stored above the fireplace.
Individual beans are sometimes separated, sun-dried, and preserved in containers. Along with chilli peppers, tomatoes, and salt, the fermented result with its distinctive aroma can be used to prepare chutney.
It can also be cooked with meat to impart flavour and enhance the flavour of the dish.
Fermented Bamboo Shoots
Indigenous to the state of Manipur, these are fermented bamboo shoot products.
They are a vital part of the Manipuri cuisine and a common social practise among the people.
Soibum is manufactured solely from the shoots of the bamboo species Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, D. sikki-mensis, D. giganteus, Melocana bambusoide, Bambusa tulda, and Bambusa balcona.
From June through September, when bamboo shoots are sprouting, the fermentation process is carried out.
The production sites for soibum in Manipur are primarily located in the hills and are dependent on the availability and abundance of raw materials.
Lactobacillus plantarum, L. brevis, L. coryniformis, L. delbrueckii,, L. lactis, Leuconostoc falllax, L. mesentroides, Enterococcus durans, Streptococcus lactis, Bacillus subtilis, B. licheniformis, Bacillus coagulans, and the yeasts Candida sp., Saccharomyces
For the preparation of soibum, there are two types of fermentation procedures: noney/kwatha and andro.
In both procedures, the outer inedible and hard casings of succulent bamboo sprouts are peeled off, and the soft regions are cut and pressed tightly into wooden or clay pots, then fermented for 6 to 12 months.
The noney/kwatha type is the recommended one, which is a batch-type fermentation that results in a more acidic product with a more acidic flavour and is conducted in a bamboo chamber covered with leaves of wild plants or polyethylene sheets.
Thin slices of tender and luscious bamboo shoots are carefully packed within this bamboo chamber.
After being filled to capacity, the upper opening of the basket is sealed with a polythene sheet and weights are placed on it to ensure the integrity of the seal.
This basket’s bottom is perforated to allow the acidic fluids created during fermentation to escape.
This arrangement is allowed for six to twelve months to allow appropriate solid-stage fermentation to occur. After fermentation is complete, the product can be stored for more than a year.
Fermentation of the Andro variety is only conducted in the Andro village of Manipur. In this method, fed-batch fermentation is conducted in large, roasted earthen vessels.
A section of the pot is initially filled with bamboo-shoot slices and allowed to ferment. After the volume of the mash has decreased as a result of fermentation, additional bamboo shoot slices are added and pressure is applied from above to compact the mixture.
This process is repeated until the pot is completely full, after which it is stored for 6-12 months. Here, the juices are prevented from escaping.
The product has a pale hue, a slight scent, and a sour flavour. Commonly, only Maitei women sell the cooked soibum at local vegetable markets.
It is typically served as a side dish with steamed rice. In addition, it is prepared with Colocasia sp. corms, green peas, pumpkins, potatoes, etc., in various dishes such as chutney. Some individuals also cook it with fish.
Soidon is the product obtained by fermenting the apical meristems of succulent bamboo shoots.
Teinostachyum wightii, Bambusa tulda, Dendrocalamus giganteus, and Melocana bambusoide Trin. are the species utilised.
It has been discovered that Lactobacillus brevis, Leuconostoc fallax, and L. lactis are connected with its fermentation. For the preparation of soidon, the tips of mature bamboo shoots are gathered, and the succulent, delicate meristems are extracted by removing the outer casings and lower sections.
The chopped tips are then buried in water in an earthen pot. As a starter culture, milky fermented sour liquid (soijim) from the previous batch is added to this mixture in a 1:1 dilution.
As an acidifier and taste enhancer, leaves of the locally accessible heibung plant (Garcinia pedunculata) can be added to the fermentation mixture. Occasionally, 1:10 dilutions of chenghi, or rice-washed water, are used to improve the colour.
The pot is covered and fermentation is allowed to occur for three to seven days. Following this period, the soidon is suitable for consumption. If stored in plastic containers at room temperature, it can be preserved for up to one year.
Additionally, Soidon is consumed as a pickle. The liquid can also be used as a condiment to impart a sour flavour to curries.
Mesu is a fermented bamboo shoot product unique to the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim regions of the Himalayas.
It is only prepared between June and September, when bamboo shoots emerge. Choya bans (Dendrocalamus hamiltonii Nees and Arnott), bhalu bans (D. sikkimensis Gamble), and karati bans (D. sikkimensis Gamble) are the bamboo species that are employed (Bambusa tulda Roxb).
It is mostly produced by Nepalese women from the Limboo community. Young bamboo shoot microbiological examination revealed the presence of Lactobacillus plantarum, L. brevis, and L. pentosaceus. L. pentosa-ceus was discovered to be the activator of fermentation, followed by L. brevis and then L. plantarum.
Young edible shoots of the bamboo plant are defoliated, coarsely cut, and packed snugly inside green hollow bamboo stems in order to ferment mesu.
The opening of such a stem is densely covered with bamboo or other wild plant leaves. This is then allowed to ferment at room temperature (water is poured over the mixture, and the drippings are collected).
The initial sip, which has the strongest flavour, is known as tokti, while the subsequent blackish beverage is known as ennog.
Fresh mesu has an approximately one-week shelf life. However, mesu is widely used as a pickle by combining it with salt, chiles, and mustard oil, which can be preserved without refrigeration for more than a year.
Mesu is also used to make curry by frying and combining cooked meat with it.
This indigenous fermented bamboo shoot product is created mostly by Khasi women in the state of Meghalaya.
It is made from the locally accessible Dendrocalamus hamiltonii bamboo species in Meghalaya. For the preparation of lung-seij, tender bamboo shoots measuring approximately 0.5 metres in length are picked and cut from bamboo groves.
The bracts and sheaths are removed, after which the shoots are properly washed, cleaned, and cut into little pieces.
These are then pressed into either bamboo or glass cylinders. It has been determined that lactic acid bacteria are present in the fermented product.
One side of the bamboo cylinders used for fermentation are cut open, while the opposite side is closed with a node.
They are filled to capacity with the sliced shoots, and the open side is covered with dried leaves and sealed with thread or grass.
Care is taken to prevent the accidental seepage of water into the cylinder, which would render the product unfit for ingestion and render it black in colour.
These cylinders are then immersed in streams for one to two months in order for fermentation to occur. The water in which the cylinders are stored should be cold; else, fermentation may not occur properly.
This method is favoured more by farmers and rural residents. This product has a shelf life of up to two months. When using glass bottles, the sliced bamboo shoots are placed inside the bottle and water is added until all of the bamboo shoots are submerged.
The bottle is then sealed and fermented at room temperature or near a fireplace. The shoots in the bottle have a one-year shelf life.
This method is chosen by urban residents. It has been determined that the fermented product has 8.5% more protein than unfermented bamboo shoots. It is combined with meat or fish to make a curry.
Bas-tenga is the fermented version of bamboo shoots that the Nagas of Nagaland manufacture.
During the months of May and June, when fresh shoots are forming, the fermentation process is carried out. Collecting young and fragile bamboo shoots from locally available bamboo and removing their sheaths.
Then, they are cut or hammered into small bits. The bottom of a conical bamboo basket is pierced to create a hole (tapered end).
A bamboo stick with a point, somewhat longer than the length of the basket, is placed into the central hole. This basket’s interior wall is lined with bamboo leaves.
The cut bamboo shoots are then placed in this basket, which is fastened to a post and covered with banana leaves and stones used as weights on top.
The bamboo stick, which is periodically twisted and twirled to allow for appropriate drainage of the fluids, aids in the drainage of the juices/sap.
The liquids are subsequently gathered in the container’s bottom. Within a week, the fermentation of the shoots and fluids occurs independently.
The shoots can be preserved in hollow bamboo internodes with the open end closed with leaves or in a wooden vat with banana leaves covering the entire vessel.
The Nagas may also keep the juice in a jar constructed from gourd skin. The fermented shoots may also be sun-dried, which imparts a distinct aroma and extends their shelf life.
All of the following ingredients are used to prepare meat, fish, and various vegetable meals.
Similar to vinegar, the juice has a preservation effect, and meals prepared with it are known to have a longer shelf life.
It is utilised by the Assam Dimasa tribe. For preparation, bamboo shoots are gathered, cleaned, and chopped into little pieces.
They are then wrapped in banana leaves and stored in an earthenware vessel. This vessel is kept at room temperature for four to five days.
Following the release of an unique odour, the shoots are transferred to a glass container.
This can be kept for approximately one year. Miya mikhri may be consumed as a pickle or combined with curry.
This is a traditional bamboo shoot fermented dish from Arunachal Pradesh. The Nyishing tribe calls it ekung, whereas the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh calls it hirring.
It is cooked between mid-April and the beginning of September, when new bamboo shoots sprout. Utilized bamboo species include Dendrocalamus hamiltonii Nees. et Arn. ex Munro, D. giganteus Munro, Bambusa balcooa Roxb., B. tulda Roxb., and Phyllostachys assamica Gamble ex Brandis.
Typically, Lactobacillus plantarum, L. lactis, L. brevis, L. casei, and Tetragenococcus halophilus are connected with its fermentation.
Collecting new and sensitive bamboo shoots, removing the outer sheaths, and chopping the edible portion into very little pieces.
A hole is made in the earth, and a bamboo basket is placed on top of it before being lined with leaves. The basket is stuffed with chopped shoots, then sealed with leaves.
The excess water is drained from the basket by placing heavy stones upon it. They are fermented for one to three months.
The product can be stored in airtight containers for one year. It can be eaten raw or prepared with meat, fish, and vegetables.
Occasionally, this item is sliced into small pieces and sun-dried for 5 to 10 days, until its colour changes from white to chocolate brown. This can be stored at room temperature for up to two years.
Fermented Alcoholic Beverages
The indigenous inhabitants of Arunachal Pradesh and the Mishings of Assam prepare and consume this sort of black rice beer. First, rice is boiled and then spread out on a bamboo mat to cool.
Simultaneously, paddy husk is placed in a huge sheet of tin or drum and allowed to burn gently and evenly until it turns black.
While still hot, the burnt husk is combined with the boiled rice and allowed to cool. After cooling, the mixture is recombined with ipoh cake crumbs.
They are then placed within a conical bamboo basket lined with ekkam leaves. The entire basket is then covered with leaves and left to ferment for three days, during which time a strong alcoholic odour is produced.
The mixture is then put to a U-shaped bamboo basket known as a perop that is lined with ekkam leaves.
The basket is covered with additional leaves, and a piece of wood and a stone are placed above it for appropriate sealing. After 10 days of fermentation, the beer is filtered.
Approximately 2 kg of the mixture is placed into a cylindrical bamboo tube called petok with a tiny hole at one end for filtering.
After adding water and mixing, a paste is created. It is then formed into small round cakes, which are placed on clean, dry paddy straws known as kher, spread on a round bamboo utensil known as kula, and covered with kher once more.
The kula is then placed atop a dhuasang, a rectangular bamboo frame, over the hearth. After drying, mod pithas harden and can be stored for two to three months.
For the preparation of sujen, 4 to 5 kg of saol is combined with rice husk, also known as tuh, and water, and stirred while cooking. The cooked saol is placed onto a dola, a round bamboo vessel topped with clean banana leaves.
Two to three powdered mod pithas are combined thoroughly with the warm saol. On top of the mixture, three jalokias (chilies) and three pieces of burning koila (charcoal) are positioned.
The mountain is covered with bihlongoni (Pteridium aquilinum fronds) and kolpat (banana leaves), and a dola is placed on top.
A large clay vessel known as koloh is sanitised by washing it with ashes and then drying it above a smoky fire.
The mixture is transferred to this pot, the mouth is sealed with bihlongoni and kolpat, and a towel is wrapped securely around the pot.
This is fermented for three to four days in the summer and seven days in the winter. Following fermentation, the material is filtered to obtain sujen as the filtrate.
This can be kept for a month in the winter and two to three weeks in the summer. It can be diluted further according to necessity.
Almost every tribe in Arunachal Pradesh is familiar with the alcoholic beverage Apong, which is made in the state. It is also prepared by Assam’s Mishings.
It holds a significant position in the culture of the people in this region. Ipoh is the starting culture used in its manufacture; it contains the yeast necessary for fermentation.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Hanseniaspora sp., Kloeckera sp., Pischia sp., and Candida sp. are the related yeasts, with S. cerevisiae being the major one. Before making ipoh, the rice is dehydrated and pounded into a fine powder.
This is then combined with powdered Veronia cinerea Less and Clerodendron viscosum Vent seeds and barks.
This mixture is placed in a vessel known as Dekchi and combined with apong water to form a paste.
This mixture is poured and spread on bamboo mats to form little cakes in the shape of discs.
They are then carefully dried over the fireplace or for three to four days in a cool location. They can be preserved for up to a year after drying. Rice is rinsed and boiled in a huge aluminium pot with a wide bottom to prepare apong.
Rice should not be overcooked to the point where it gets soggy. The ipoh is next thoroughly combined with the rice in the correct proportion.
This is then transferred to another container with a lid, and a small quantity of water is added.
It is then fermented at room temperature for three to five days, after which it releases a distinct alcoholic odour. Before use, the stock is diluted with water.
Kodo ko Jaanr
Locally known as kodo, dry seeds of finger millet (Eleusine coracana) are fermented into a food called kodo ko jaanr by the tribal people of Sikkim.
It is a vital element of the dietary culture and religious beliefs of the Sikkimese ethnic groups. Murcha, a traditionally prepared mixed inoculum or starter, is utilised in its preparation.
Murcha is prepared by soaking sticky rice in water for 6 to 8 hours and pounding it with a large wooden mortar and pestle powered by the foot.
To 1 kilogramme of pounded rice, 2.5 grammes of the roots of Plumbago zeylanica L., 1.2 grammes of the leaves of Buddleja asiatica Lour, 1.2 grammes of the blossoms of Vernonia cinerea Less, 5.0 grammes of Gingiber officinale, 1.2 grammes of red dry chilies, and 10.0 grammes of prepared marcha are added.
The mixture is kneaded into flat cakes, which are laid on a bamboo mat lined with fresh fern fronds and covered with dry ferns and jute bags. This is placed over the kitchen for one to three days to ferment.
This is then sun-dried for two to three days. The product is called murcha and can be preserved for more than a year in a dry location. Finger millet seeds are cleaned, rinsed, and boiled for around 30 minutes to make kodo ko jaanr.
The cooked millets are drained of excess water and put on a bamboo mat called mandro for chilling.
Approximately 1% to 2% of powdered marcha is dusted over cooked seeds, properly mixed, then placed in a bamboo basket lined with fresh fern (Thelypteris erubescens), locally known as thadre unioon or banana leaves, then covered with jute cloths, and stored for 2-4 days at room temperature.
The bulk is then moved into an earthen pot or a bamboo basket called septu, which is finally sealed against air.
This is then fermented at room temperature for 3 to 4 days during the summer and 5 to 7 days during the winter.
About 200-500 g of the fermented material is placed in a toongbaa vessel, and lukewarm water is added to the rim.
After 10 to 15 minutes, the milky white extract of jaanr is drunk via a bamboo straw with a small hole towards the bottom to prevent the passage of grits. After sipping the extract, water may be added a total of three to four times.
Locally known as xaj-pani, the Ahoms of Assam create a type of rice beer known as xaj-pani. It is the most essential beverage, utilised regularly in Ahoms religious rites and rituals.
It is also consumed as a cooling beverage at Bihu festivals and after arduous labour. Before making xaj pani, the beginning culture known as vekur pitha must be made.
For the preparation of vekur pitha, the leaves of Lygodium flaxuosum Linn., Leucas aspera Spreng, Cissampelos Pereira, Scoparia dulsis Linn., Cinamommum glanduliferum Meissn., and Piper betle Linn. are gathered and sun-dried for 1 to 2 days.
These are then pounded into a powder and combined with rice powder and water in a vessel.
This powder is combined with pitha, also known as ghai pitha, which acts as a yeast source.
The mixture is then formed into cakes in the shape of discs, wrapped in banana leaves, and stored airtight above the fire for four to five days.
After drying, the cakes are referred to as vekur pitha, which serves as a source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and can be kept for future use. Bora rice belonging to the Sali variety is the most common type of rice used by the Ahoms to make rice beer.
The rice is initially prepared, put on a plain plate, and left exposed for approximately one hour. Rice that has been cooled and dried is then combined with vekur pitha.
This combination is then put to an earthen pot known as kalah and stored in a dark, airtight part of the home for four to five days.
Following this time period, the kalah is filtered to collect the concentrated alcoholic juice.
This is accomplished by placing an appropriate-sized jar over the mouth of the pot to act as a cover or by placing rice straw to prevent the semi-solid rice from escaping.
This very aromatic, alcoholic, and sweet-tasting filtrate is known as xaj pani.
It is a rice beer prepared by the Angami people of Nagaland from sprouted rice grain. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the most prevalent microbe during zutho fermentation.
Unhulled glutinous rice grains are steeped in water for three days before being drained and allowed to germinate for three to four days in the summer and seven days in the winter.
The hulls and sprouting rice grains are then mashed in a wooden mortar and pestle to create grist. Then, rice powder and boiling water (5 litres to 3 kilogrammes) are added gradually while stirring.
The rice porridge is then allowed to cool before being combined with one handful of grist in the summer and two handfuls in the winter.
The mash is fermented in a wooden vessel for two to three days in the summer and seven days in the winter.
The fermented mash is then diluted with water and filtered through a bamboo basket. The name for the filtrate is jutho. It is an off-white slurry that contains 5.0% alcohol and has a pH of 3.6 and an acidity of 5.1.
In a similar fashion, the Zeme Naga tribe of the North Cachar Hills in Assam brew dekuijao, their indigenous beverage.
This is yet another variety of rice beer brewed by the Dimasa people of Assam. Humao is the starting culture required for its preparation.
For the preparation of humao, brown rice is soaked in water at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours. It is then mashed with Glycyrrhiza glabra L. bark. Adding water transforms the ingredients into a paste, from which flat cakes are formed.
These sun-dried cakes are known as humao. Rice that has been cleansed and rinsed is cooked and dehydrated in order to make judima.
After cooling, it is thoroughly combined with an adequate amount of humao. This mixture is then spread overnight on a banana leaf, transferred to a clay pot, and partially sealed.
Summertime fermentation is permitted to occur at room temperature for three to four days. The resulting fluids are referred to as judima.
The inhabitants of Manipur make this alcoholic drink from sticky rice. The starting culture used to prepare atingba is known as hamei.
Their preparation methods are kept secret and passed down from generation to generation. For the preparation of hamei, raw rice is combined with the powdered bark of the yangli plant (Albizia myriophylla) and water to make a dough-like material.
This is then combined with hamei powder from the previous batch. This is then formed into roughly 2-7 cm in diameter and 0.6-1.5 cm in thickness flat cakes.
They are then stored on rice husks or bamboo baskets for two to three days at room temperature.
The cakes develop an alcoholic flavour and a yellowish hue after fermentation. They can be dried and kept for one year. Lactobacillus plantarum and Pediococcus pentosaceus have been identified as the lactic acid bacteria isolated from hamei samples.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pichia anomala, P. guilliermondi, P. fabianii, Candida tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. montana, Torulaspora delbrueckii, and Trichosporon sp. have been identified as the fungi linked with fermentation.
For the making of atingba, cooked, cooled glutinous rice is combined with crushed hamei (5 cakes for 10 kg). The combination is fermented in a solid condition in mud pots covered with hangla (Alocasia sp.) leaves for three to four days in the summer and seven to eight days in the winter.
This is followed by two to three days of submerged fermentation in earthenware vessels. After filtering the fermented product, the resulting beverage is called atingba.
Kiad is a popular local liquor produced by the Jaintia tribe (also known as Pnar or Synteng) in Meghalaya’s Jaintia hills.
It plays a significant role in the sociocultural life of the Jaintia and is present at every religious holiday and ceremony.
The preparation of kiad involves two steps: first, the preparation of thiat, a natural yeast, and second, the brewing of the kiad beverage.
A handful of washed and cleaned leaves of the locally available khawiang plant (Amomum aromaticum Roxb.) are sun-dried and pounded into powder in a wooden mortar and pestle known as thlong-surai for the making of thiat.
About 1-2 kg of kho-so rice, a local type, is soaked and then pounded into powder in a thlongsurai.
The two powders are then combined with spring water in a cone-shaped basket known as a khire to create a sticky paste. The paste is used to make little, round cakes with a diameter of about 4-5 cm and a thickness of around 1 cm.
These are stored in a circular basket known as malieng and covered with banana leaves. Malieng is hung on a rectangular bamboo frame called la-er and shown in direct sunshine or above the fireplace.
After drying, the cakes become brittle and are referred to as thiat; they are utilised as yeast inoculum. For the preparation of kiad, 4-5 kg of kho-so are combined with spring water and simmered in a metal pan with constant stirring.
The rice is then put out on a malieng to cool and dry. Then, 2-3 cakes of coarsely crushed thiat are added to this mixture.
The mixture is then placed in a shang, a cone-shaped basket. The entire basket is wrapped in a cloth and left for two to three days.
The fermented mash, known as jyndem, is distilled in a device called shetkiad, which is constructed by stacking jars of varying sizes.
The name of the distillate is kiad. Kiad manufacturing provides locals with a source of income. A small amount of intake is regarded healthy and serves as a cure for certain diseases.
Sujen is a famous type of rice beer among the Assam Deori tribe. It is also regarded as holy water and used as such by Deori priests throughout numerous festivals and ceremonies.
Sujen is created in two steps: first, the creation of a natural starter known as mod pitha, followed by the brewing of sujen.
A variety of plant species (about 32) are utilised in the creation of mod pitha. Artocarpus heterophyllus, Cinnamomum bejolghota, Costus speciosus, Desmodium pulchellum, Coffea bengalenses, Cyperus sp., Equisetum sp., Lygodium flexuosum, and Melastoma malabathricum are a few examples.
A handful of the plant’s leaves, fronds, barks, roots, and bulbs are placed in a spherical bamboo netting called saloni and sun-dried for a day.
Then, 3 to 5 kg of saol (rice) is soaked in water for around 2 hours before being combined with the dried plant components and processed in a wooden grinder known as a dheki, along with 2 to 3 mod pithas.
The powder is sieved at room temperature (25 °C) for 7 to 15 days. The release of a particular flavour indicates that fermentation has concluded.
MN Editors. (November 26, 2022).Traditional Indian Fermented Foods . Retrieved from https://microbiologynote.com/traditional-indian-fermented-foods/
MN Editors. "Traditional Indian Fermented Foods ." Microbiology Note, Microbiologynote.com, November 26, 2022.