FERMENTED FOODS AND BEVERAGES OF
THE SIKKIM HIMALAYAS
culture of the ethnic groups of the people in the Eastern Himalayas shows a
culmination of both ‘rice-soybean-alcoholic beverage diet’, the
characteristic food culture of the Oriental countries and
‘wheat-milk-non-alcoholic beverage diet’ of the Western and Hindu Kush
This predicts a transition of an emergence of mixed food culture of both
Oriental East and Western Hindu-Kush Himalayas. As seen in case of fermented
soybean foods, that are prepared and consumed in the Eastern Himalayas and the adjoining foot-hills, such as kinema in eastern Nepal, the Darjeeling
hills, Sikkim and Bhutan, aakhuni in Nagaland, hawaijar in Manipur
and turangbai in Meghalaya, bekanthu in Mizoram and pe-poke in Myannmar. Consumption of fermented soybean food is uncommon in the Western
and Hindu-Kush Himalayas and also in other parts of India. These fermented
soybeans food are similar to natto of Japan, thua-nao of northern
Thailand, dou-chi of China and chungkok-jang of Korea.
of the traditional fermented foods are prepared by processes of solid substrate
fermentation in which the substrate is allowed to ferment either naturally or by
adding starter cultures. In East and South-East Asia, filamentous moulds are
predominant microorganisms in the fermentation processes, whereas in Africa,
Europe and America, fermented products are prepared exclusively using bacteria
or bacteria-yeast mixed cultures; moulds seem to be little or never used.
However, in the Eastern Himalayas, all the three major groups of microorganism
(moulds-yeasts-bacteria) are associated with traditional fermented foods and
beverages (Tamang, 1998a), showing the transition food culture.