I’ve always said that India is like a world within a world. After visiting the state of Meghalaya in northeastern India, I realized that this state is a world in and of itself inside India. The Meghalayan dishes you must eat there are so different from the fare you’ll find in other parts of the Subcontinent. It’s even remarkably different from the cuisine in the other states of the Northeast, known as the Seven Sisters. Luckily, there are tons of places around the state to get a good taste of it.
During my time in Meghalaya, I ate a lot of dishes by the Khasis, a Mongoloid tribe that, along with the Jaintia and Garos, make up much of the state’s population. Meghalayan cuisine is largely made up of spicy, flavorful meat and fish dishes with rice. Pork, which is a rarity in other parts of India, takes center stage here, and beef is also a popular menu item.
To say I was blown away by the sensational flavors of Meghalaya is an understatement. I only spent four days there, but during that time, there were several instances where I ate some of the best food of my life. I found mouthwatering dishes everywhere from the capital city of Shillong to tiny stalls in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them town and villages. This amazing cuisine deserves more of a spotlight, which is why I want to share it with you today. These are the 12 Meghalayan dishes you must eat in Meghalaya, India.
The city of Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya and the state’s largest city. As such, it has some of the best variety of foods to try in the state. Whether you head over to Iewduh Market for a sit-down meal or grab something on the go at Police Bazaar, there really are no bad choices here. Here are some of my favorite Meghalayan dishes you must eat in Shillong, India.
Pork Feast at Nat Khasi Restaurant
Something I learned after arriving in Shillong is that pork is king in Meghalaya. Unlike in other parts of India, where pork dishes are rare, in Meghalaya, pork is one of the main sources of protein. The people of Meghalaya have mastered the art of cooking pork, and it’s on full display at Nat Khasi Restaurant in Iewduh Market.
Jadoh and Dohklieh
One of the staples here is a short-grain rice dish called jadoh. It’s somewhat similar to a non-veg biryani and contains onions, ginger, turmeric, and chunks of fatty, tasty pork. Another of the top Meghalayan dishes you must eat at the restaurant is dohklieh. It’s a creamy, fatty Khasi pork salad that’s reminiscent of Russian salad. It contains several fresh and flavorful ingredients including ginger and onion, but can also contain lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and more.
Pork Liver and Pork Intestine Sausage
I’m a sucker for good liver, and Nat Khasi’s pork liver is next level! It’s chewy and full of that meaty, iron flavor I love so much. Speaking of delicious innards, they also sell a fantastic pork intestine sausage, which is incredibly meaty and full of fat and flavor! If you like organ meat, you will love this sausage. Try it, and the rest of the dishes, with a bit of fermented soybean chutney. The chutney looks unassuming but is a potent burst of sour, fermented goodness on your palate. It may be a bit much for some, but it’s one of my favorite Meghalayan dishes you must eat!
I should also mention that you should be careful while eating these pork dishes. They’re so tasty that it’s easy to be ravenous while eating them but eat slowly. Some of them contain small bones that you don’t want to accidentally swallow. Chew slowly and feel around with your tongue so you don’t get any caught in your throat!
Khasi Thali at Police Bazaar (Daytime)
If you’d like to try slightly different versions of jadoh and dohklieh, there’s no shortage of options in Meghalaya. One of my favorite locations to try more of these dishes is a small hole-in-the-wall in Shillong called Trattoria Restaurant. It’s located in Police Bazar, which is essentially the commercial center of the city.
More Jadoh and Dohklieh
This time, the jadoh and dohklieh are components in a Khasi thali. Thalis are staples throughout India, but they can vary widely from city-to-city, region-to-region. Thalis consist of platters containing an array of dishes and chutneys, as well as rices, breads, or both. Having a Khasi thali should be high on any list of Meghalayan dishes you must eat!
The jadoh at Trattoria is rich and fatty and reminded me more of a paella. It pairs nicely with the fermented soybean sauce, which adds a potent and earthy kick. The dohklieh here tasted similar to ceviche and also contained potato in addition to the onion and pork.
Pork Meatballs and Pork Fat
Speaking of pork, this thali is loaded with it! Don’t miss out on the tender pork meatballs, but one of the highlights of this thali for me were the pieces of pork fat that were included. They’re calorie bombs for sure, so this isn’t exactly a meal for those on a diet. But the fat is so juicy and packed with flavor that it’s worth the extra pounds you might pick up after eating it!
Chicken Curry and Chutneys
My favorite dish in this thali was the chicken curry, which was a sensational explosion of unique northeastern flavors and tender, organic poultry. The curry alone was good enough to drink by itself and is easily among the top Meghalayan dishes you must eat.
Enjoy your meal with the assortment of chutneys, which include a banana flower chutney that tastes like mashed plantains. If you want something more potent, there’s a spicy fish chutney and a surprisingly strong mint chutney. On the milder side, there’s also a mild dal mash. You can’t go wrong with any of them. They all pair extremely well with the pork and practically had me drooling at my table!
Grilled Pork Stomach at Police Bazaar (Nighttime)
One thing you quickly learn when you travel through other countries is that most of the time, very little goes to waste when it comes to butchered animals. That has certainly been my experience during my travels through India, where brains, liver, intestines, and other organ meats can be found. One of my personal favorite Meghalayan dishes you must eat is the grilled pork stomach at Police Bazaar.
This dish, which you’ll only find at night, tastes a bit like bacon and is very fatty. It is cooked over a grill until it has a nice char on the outside. Despite the amount of char, the meat doesn’t lose its moistness. It’s actually quite juicy!
The pork stomach is served with chutney and a wedge of lemon. Try it with both for a colossal explosion of flavors in your mouth. I’ve eaten some extraordinary pork in my travels, but this pork stomach is one of the very best.
Chicken Momos at the Food on Wheels Food Truck in Police Bazaar (Nighttime)
When you visit Police Bazaar at night, you’ll come across lots of vendors and options you won’t find there in the morning. For that reason, I advise visiting the bazaar at least twice—once in the morning and once at night—so you can sample everything. Whatever you do, don’t miss the chicken momos at the Food on Wheels food truck at night.
Chicken momos are basically dumplings with chicken inside. I’ve eaten them on several occasions, but these, in particular, blew my mind. The pulled chicken shreds inside are juicy, moist, and full of flavor on their own. They come with a mild red sauce on the side, which adds a smooth texture and ramps up the flavor from a solid 9 to a 10 for sure!
Chow at Police Bazaar (Nighttime)
Another of the Meghalayan dishes you must eat at Police Bazaar is the chow. The chow here is an Indo-Chinese dish made up of dry, thin noodles. It’s similar to Thai glass noodles. The noodles are mixed with other ingredients, including onion and tender chunks of chicken.
It’s very tasty on its own, but you guys know I love my food to have some spice to it. If you’re like me, add some green chili sauce to give it a nice punch of heat! The heat and flavors of the chili sauce work wonders with the noodles, chicken, and onions. It’s way too amazing to pass up!
Pork Breakfast at Police Bazaar (Morning)
As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to explore Meghalayan dishes you must eat is to visit Police Bazaar. In the morning, you’ll find a wide array of tasty breakfast items that are perfect for kickstarting a day of adventure. One of these dishes is dohklieh, which I recommend trying every chance you get. Every time I had it, it was a little different from the other varieties, which made each time feel like a new flavor adventure.
Try the dohklieh along with other pork dishes like the moist meatballs and gelatinous pork fat. You can also find some chewy, gelatin-like pork innards, which are juicy, porky goodness! They reminded me of brains and are so full of flavor.
The innards go well with a flatbread called chapati, which you’ll also find at the bazaar in the morning. Wrap the pork innards in the chapati and go to town on it. It’s a fantastic and flavor-filled way to start your morning, and the textures are out of this world!
Home-Cooked Feast at a Local’s House
Yes, technically, travel involves visiting places. Destinations to travel to. But for me, it’s more about the people I meet along the way. It’s about the stories they tell you and the new ideas and perspectives they open your heart and mind to. When that’s combined with first-class hospitality, you make memories that will last a lifetime. I got to experience that first-hand during my time in Shillong, when Jordan, a friend of my guide Paul, invited us, and my driver Dickie, into his home for a traditional Khasi feast.
This incredible meal was cooked by Jordan’s mom and consisted of several Meghalayan dishes you must eat! One of my favorites was the fantastic pork, which was served with an unreal sesame curry that made my taste buds go nuts. There was also a delicious, dried beef that reminded me of a high-quality Angus jerky, and tender, fried mincemeat patties.
There were lots of other sides, including a sensational bean salad with sesame curry and a unique wildflower pickle. But one of the sides that really stood out was the dried fish chutney, which had a potent, briny flavor and had some real heat to it! I also couldn’t get enough of the pungent bamboo shoot pickle, which had a texture I instantly fell in love with.
But the best part of the feast was getting to enjoy a homecooked meal with group of strangers, joke and laugh with them, hear their stories, and have new friends by the end of the night. It was a beautiful example of Meghalayan hospitality and I’m so honored to have had the experience.
It’s something I’ll never forget. If you ever get the opportunity to dine in a local’s home in Meghalaya, or anywhere in India for that matter, take it! It could wind up being the best thing you do during your trip.
Check out the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Shillong, India
The Cherrapunjee area of Meghalaya is best known for its natural beauty, which includes majestic waterfalls and vistas of gorgeous, forested valleys. But make no mistake—this region is also home to some extraordinary Meghalayan dishes you must eat!
As you head south from Shillong toward the Cherrapunjee area, you’ll come across a small restaurant across from the stunning Mawkdok Valley. This unassuming eatery sells a dish that’s even more inconspicuous: prawn maggi made from instant noodles. It’s easy to turn your nose up at the idea of instant noodles with prawns, but if you did, you’d be sorely missing out!
This mouthwatering dish is full of spices and amazing flavors that should not be missed. You can add two different sauces to it, including a sweet, organic ketchup and one with a nice kick of heat. The spicy sauce, paired with the crunchy noodles and the prawn flavor, is a wonderful combination you must try!
Khasi Pork Feast at Sohra Market
The main town in the Cherrapunjee area is known as Sohra. Much like Shillong, Sohra also has a bustling market that is pretty much the center of everyday life for locals. There, you’ll find a charming but cramped open-air restaurant where you’ll likely eat shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals, literally. The meal I had at this stone restaurant is something I will remember for the rest of my life. They serve some of the best Meghalayan dishes you must eat there!
Jadoh Snam, Liver, and Dohklieh
Like the food in Shillong, the dishes here are heavy on the pork. You can find a variation of jadoh there called jadoh snam, which is rice and pork that has been cooked in blood. I couldn’t really taste any blood flavor in the dish, but it was still fantastic. I loved the juicy and fatty pieces of pork meat in the rice!
As a liver lover, there’s no way I could pass up it up. The dense piece of organ meat is served covered with a light, tasty sauce, but it’s actually quite flavorful on its own! As always, I also have to recommend the dohklieh, as well as the dense and crispy pork fritter. You’ll also be given more gelatin-like pork fat that’s reminiscent of pork belly. If that wasn’t enough, the fat comes covered in a flavorful curry that elevates it to the next level!
Salad and Fermented Fish Chutney
If you’d like something fresh to break up all the heavy meat dishes, you can also try a light salad consisting of potatoes, green beans, and onions. Don’t forget the fermented fish chutney, which adds a potent, fishy brininess to everything on your plate.
Trust me when I say, the fresh, organic pork in Sohra is among the best I’ve ever eaten. I thought I had eaten amazing pork in America, but the pork in Meghalaya is on a whole other level. It’s tender, flavorful, and juicy, and the Meghalayan people have perfected the art of cooking it. And for the quality, the meal is practically a steal at only 90 rupees, or about $1.30 USD.
Check out the 5 Things to See and Do in Cherrapunjee, India
When you travel to the Cherrapunjee area and back from Shillong, you’ll pass through the village of Mylliem. Be sure to stop in town to try some of the best Meghalayan dishes you must eat anywhere in the state. You’ll be glad you did!
R. Kharbangar Tea Stall (Breakfast)
When you pass through Mylliem, stop at R. Kharbangar Tea Stall, a tiny eatery where the flavors are anything but. They offer an array of Meghalayan dishes you must eat, including tasty and chewy pork intestines with liver. The intestines were cooked to perfection, while the liver was dense and mouthwateringly tasty.
And, as far as I’m concerned, you can never have too much dohklieh, so you might want to give theirs a try if you enjoy it as much as I do. The potatoes, ginger, and onion give it such a unique flavor that I never got tired of, no matter how many times I ate it.
That said, the star of their breakfast menu is the chicken curry. The chicken meat is so tender it practically disintegrates in your mouth, and it is incredibly juicy. The curry is light but packed with an amazing amount of flavor.
I suggest eating everything with some putharo, which is a steamed rice cake that reminded me of a Venezuelan arepa. Tear off small pieces to eat with the intestines and liver, but save most of it for your chicken curry. My favorite thing to do was to let the putharo soak up the curry from the chicken and eating it all in one big, messy bite.
Outside of the remarkable flavors, the best thing about this meal is how inexpensive it is. This filling breakfast will only set you back 160 rupees, or about $2.28 USD.
Meat Feast in Mylliem
As you make your return to Shillong from the Dawki area, you’ll pass back through the village of Mylliem. It would be easy to overlook this town, which is roughly a 45-minute drive from the capital. But the benefit of traveling with a local is that they know all the hidden food gems, and Mylliem is one of them.
I’m a huge fan of momos, so when I saw that there was a woman selling them right on the street, I knew I had to jump on it. The momos were filled with tender, juicy pork and came with onions and a spicy sauce on the side. The momo itself was so soft, it fell apart when I picked it up and the sauce was hot without being overbearing! It was light on the pork, with more onion flavor coming through. It’s one of my favorite Meghalayan dishes you must eat, for sure!
Smoked Beef and Pork
There was also a tiny hole-in-the-wall that sells different types of pickles. I recommend taking your momo inside to eat it there. In addition to the pickles, they also sell smoked pork, which looked and tasted similar to bacon, and smoked beef. The bacon-like meat with the onions and peppers made it almost like a tough bacon stir-fry.
While the pork was incredible, the beef was too tough and hard for me to bite through. I nearly broke a tooth trying to bite through it, but the onions and peppers served with it were phenomenal.
But of all the Meghalayan dishes you must eat in Mylliem, my favorite was the blood sausage. I grew up eating blood sausage and had found it to be pretty rare in India. The only other place in the country I’d found some was in Little Tibet in Delhi, so finding it at a stall in Mylliem was a treat!
The blood sausage comes on a banana leaf with spring onions, chilies, and peppers. The hot, spicy meat had a soft, slightly gelatinous melt-in-your-mouth texture. It was absolute heaven on my palate. It was also full of the blood and intestine flavor I love so much. I couldn’t get enough of it and had to stop myself from standing at the stall and eating it all night!
Check out the 10 Places You Must Visit in Northeast India
Speaking of hidden gems in Meghalaya, there’s one in the Dawki area that is a must-visit: Shnongpdeng. It often gets overshadowed by other communities in the area, like Mawlynnong and Dawki itself. This riverside village is a gorgeous destination and the home of some of the best Meghalayan dishes you must eat in the state!
A day is probably all you need to explore the Dawki area of Meghalaya, but just because it’s a quick day trip doesn’t mean there aren’t standout places to eat there. Along the banks of the beautiful and serene Umngot River in Shnongpdeng, there are river huts that serve as restaurants. There, you’ll find several of the top Meghalayan dishes you must eat.
River Fish Curry
I highly recommend the light and tasty river fish curry. It’s made up of big filets of fish that are packed with briny, fishy flavor. I suggest mixing it with the supplied rice, but remember, this is a bony river fish. Take extra care to pick through the meat to remove any bones before you dive in. You don’t want one to get caught in your throat!
The beef curry is another dish you should not miss under any circumstance. It’s similar to oxtails and is ultra-tender and buttery. I’ve eaten phenomenal (and expensive) cuts of beef all over the world, but I’m not exaggerating when I say this beef was some of the highest quality beef I’d ever eaten.
Another dish I fell in love with was the jackfruit. While it’s a fruit that gets sweet when it’s ripe, jackfruit has a neutral flavor and meaty texture when it’s unripe. Because of that, it gets used in a lot of savory dishes, including this riverside feast. This jackfruit comes mixed with spinach, onions, peppers, bamboo, and mushrooms. It’s an earthy mix of textures and eye-popping flavors!
Fish Fry and Tomato Chutney
There’s also a crunchy and salty fish fry that felt more like a fish fritter. Like the river fish curry, it’s very bony, so be careful as you savor the tasty, dense meat. I suggest eating it with the tomato chutney, which contains onions and chilies. The chutney tastes almost identical to a Mexican salsa.
Jungle Vegetable and Dal
Don’t miss the jungle vegetable that’s served on the side. It’s slightly bitter and reminiscent of spinach. And last but certainly not least, try the light and fruity dal with rice. It is a fantastic way to finish off a meal of some of the best Meghalayan dishes you must eat in Shnongpdeng!
Check out the Top 5 Things to See and Do in Dawki, India
Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate the many types of Indian cuisine, from Assamese to Gujatari to Maharashtrian and everything in-between. Meghalayan cuisine may not be as well-known as other types of Indian cuisine, but it deserves to have a spotlight shone on it. It’s spicy, fatty, flavorful, and heavy on pork, and is easily some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves incredible food. To taste the best Meghalayan dishes you must eat, book a trip to Shillong today!
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