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Manipuri Basti: rice hotels
A nook filled with Manipuri treats / - Rice hotels attract foodies
By SAURAV BORA The Telegraph, India
Chakluk, Emoinu, Geetanjali (the oldest: estd in the 1970s), Imphal, and Lakshmi are small restaurants in the famous “food corner near Manipuri Basti.” They are christened the rice hotels.
They call themselves the specialists of traditional Manipuri cuisine in Guwahati. Their eromba, sinju and chareng now appeal to a cross-section of taste buds, and going by the “cosmopolitan presence” during peak hours, the thaalis (plated food) they offer are up there among the most sought-after in town.
“Things have changed since we started in 1990. At that time, we had to open very early in the morning to cater to night bus passengers, particularly from Manipur or Nagaland. Now, we open by 7am and by lunchtime, the place is chock-a-block with office-goers, college students and families. What’s encouraging is that we now have a section of loyal non-Manipuri clients,” the owner of Chakluk Manipuri Rice Hotel, said.
Chakluk in Manipuri means a thaali (plate).
Chakluk is particular about his offerings. As a matter of fact, it has never compromised on the original recipe. “More often than not, we get the rice ordered from Manipur. Eromba, a traditional dish made of fermented hidol fish and vegetables, is what people come here for. Sinju, a salad that has cabbage, thanbou (lotus stems), chillies in it, is another attraction. Then there is ooti (a curry comprising green or dry peas), chareng (a fish curry), manikha (a mix of brinjal and fish oil), chambut (boiled papaya), kangsoi (a boiled item comprising dry fish) and, of course, a mustard chutney…The mantra is simple — stick to basics. “We do not use onions in our dal and curries. Instead, we use a leaf called enam. We have adhered to the original recipe and I think our clients acknowledge this,” the owner of Chakluk said.
All this for just Rs 70 a thaali with fish curry, and as low as Rs 40, without it. [2012 prices]
The new-look Geetanjali Hotel is situated in the nook opposite Apsara cinema. Its owner said, “We were the first Manipuri food specialists in town. Back in 1979, my father Rabindra Singh had set up the hotel serving traditional cuisine. Our clients, at that time, were primarily Manipuris. But now there are more non-Manipuris at the tables during the peak hours.”
Imphal Hotel, a few yards away, however, has adapted with the times. “We serve traditional fare for lunch and dinner. But unlike our counterparts, we have fast food such as chow, chicken rolls and momos to break the monotony in the evenings,” said its manager.
Use of bamboo
To decorate overbridges
One of a kind: Bamboo gives this Guwahati bridge a glamorous look
Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma inaugurated three foot-overbridges in Guwahati, one among them at Khanapara has been primarily decorated with bamboo.