Hill Farmer Produce
Marma people eat delicious food. But young Marmas aren’t learning how to cook their traditional recipes. These days it’s easy to make food using the ingredients you find in every shop like instant noodles.
Marmas use fruits, vegetables and herbs from the forest or from their small garden farms. Some things like their “fala” are good for your health. And drinking tea made from hibiscus helps with coughs and colds.
Fala is like ginger and often cooked with chicken. But these days people just use ginger instead because it’s easy to find in the bazar. Most people from outside the area don’t know these local ingredients.
And so that’s how I found myself at the Bandarban Food Festival. The Himalica Project and the Bandarban Hill District Council organised the event. I went to the festival with my colleague Kishor Tripura. Kishor, like me, is from Khagrachhari.
Now-a-days you find more tourists coming to Bandarban. And the idea is to ask local restaurants to put traditional dishes on their menu. So people visiting can taste typical Marma food. And there might be jobs for young Marma women and men in these restaurants. At the festival we got to try the very delicious Marma cuisine
I’m a Chakma from Khagrachhari and so I knew some of the Marma dishes and ingredients. But there were a few surprises even for me. The Marmas eat sticky rice topped with roasted sesame seeds and mixed with shredded coconut as a kind of sweet. We also eat sticky rice as our dessert but we don’t add sesame seeds or coconut.
Kishor said his favourite dish was “mungdih”. Neither of us had ever eaten this. Mungdih has thirteen ingredients such as sliced boiled eggs, lentil fritter, peppercorns, flat leaf coriander, ground chilli and noodles. So what you do is mix your ingredients in a bowl and then pour a broth on top. The broth is made from tamarind, ginger, garlic and onions. It’s really delicious.
I hope that the Marma’s can keep making their traditional dishes. They are really tasty. And they’re made from ingredients that are grown naturally in Bandarban. So it makes sense to me that they should eat these foods – they are special. Why would they want to eat instant noodles?
By the way, that’s why I like working with Aroyee. We take ingredients from the Chittagong Hill Tracts and make Thai delicious recipes. Then we serve our clients beautiful dinners. It makes me proud of my home district and our food.