Very few dishes from the seven states of northeastern India are known, among them Manipur is one such state which is a treasure trove of many exotic yet divinely delicious foods and dishes. One such very popular delicacy is the Eromba/Iromba pronounced as ee-rom-ba, a preparation from the Meitei community of Manipur prepared with dried and fermented fish and locally available veggies.
The prime ingredient of this dish is the fermented dried fish known as Ngari in Manipuri ( Nga means fish), which are usually a few varieties of small freshwater fishes (not more than 10 cms) that are first sun-dried and then fermented in locally produced and specially designed earthenpots called koloh or ngari chaphu by repeated smearing with oil without addition of any salt. The word “Eromba” is derived from eeru taana lonba in Manipuri which means “mixing and stirring watery”. This dish is usually made with boiled vegetables and fermented fish mashed together along with chillies. Mostly no oil is used in the recipe and so is a healthy, simple yet flavourful meal accompaniment, but you can use little oil if you want.
Eromba is a regular dish for the Manipuri households except those who are srictly vegetarians and the dish varies from house to house who make this in their own way. However the basic ingredients are the same i.e. the fermented fish, chillies and vegetables like buckwheat, colocasia/arbi, lady’s finger, potato, tree beans, bamboo shoots etc. Since rice is the staple for the population here, the Eromba really combines well with the rice meal. Also, it feels equally great to have it with piping hot phulka/roti and a piece of raw onion.
I had prepared this dish for the first time when one of my friend who is a Manipuri, insisted me to try this once. Though I had tasted it earlier to that also, I can only remember how hot it was as it was just unbearable and left me baffled to feel its real flavour. It is usually made with the Naga King chilli, one of the hottest chillies of the world available in Northeast India. Though it tastes its best with the King chillies, you can make it with just any chillies you have. This time I prepared it on my own taking extra care for the amount of chillies to be added and it came out really well with all its flavour. Hence, being a food enthusiast and foodie myself, I feel the urge to share the recipe with you all especially for the non-vegetarians.
2. Boiled Tomatoes-2, potatoes-2 ( or any other locally available or seasonal vegetables like colocasia, ladies finger,banana flower, banana stem,bamboo shoot etc. )
3. Green chillies : 3-4 / King chilli: 1-2 / Red chillies : 3-4
4. Onions (chopped) : 1 large
5. Garlic : 2-3 pods (optional)
6. Coriander leaves ( chopped ) : 1 bunch
7. Warm water : 1 cup
- Clean your dry fish well, remove all scales or particles if any from the surface of your fish, rinse them well in clean water, drench and keep them aside.
- In a small closed container, take chillies and dry fish and keep them aside.
- In another vessel, take tomatoes , potatoes & garlic pods (if using).
- Keep the containers in a pressure cooker and boil for 3-4 whistles.
- Now, take the boiled green chillies and dry fish in a bowl, mash well using your hand and keep aside.
- In another bowl, mash the boiled potatoes and tomatoes along with garlic. Add chopped onions, salt and mix well. ( Note: The potato should be coarsely mashed i.e. not a very smooth mash ).
- Now add the fish and chilly mash to it and mix them together nicely.
- Add chopped coriander leaves and mix.
- Add little warm water to it for a slightly loose consistency. Your Eromba is ready.
- Serve with fresh steamed rice accompanied with fried fish, fried dry shrimps, omlette or just anything crispy or fries.