Kangsoi : The Manipuri Delight

With this post wishing you all a very healthy & flavorful new year ahead.

Kangsoi is a dish from the Meitei community of Manipur in Northeastern India. This authentic, traditional dish of Manipur is a very simple and totally oil free, water-based stew or curry which is prepared simply by cooking the ingredients (vegetables and herbs) in boiling water flavoured with dried fermented fish (Ngari). Although the original non-vegetarian version includes a generous use of fried or roasted fermented fish, the vegetarian version is exclusively prepared from a mixture of seasonal vegetables flavoured with aromatic herbs that are typical of Manipur. Even though this humble dish is prepared with minimal ingredients with no oil and spices, yet it is very flavourful in taste. Every Manipuri household have their own version of Kangsoi based on their style of cooking and the ingredients being used. The vegetarian version uses any kind of fresh vegetables available during the season, however winter veggies will provide you with ample choices in the vegetables you choose to prepare your Kangsoi. And the best thing about this dish is that you can create infinite number of permutations and combinations for making varied forms of Kangsoi according to your preferences. Also this curry is very easy to prepare only that you have to put the ingredients together for boiling, cover & just forget till your curry is ready to be served. There is absolutely no worry for burning of the ingredients unless the water gets completely dried. Other than the traditional versions, many other non-vegetarian versions like fish kangsoi, chicken and pork kangsoi are also gaining popularity as a contemporary twist to the traditional dish. This very simple, oil free curry is just perfect for all seasons giving a soothing effect in the scorching summer and a flavourful warmth during the cozy winter.

The winter is already here and so is the season for enjoying the wide range of veggie delights exclusively available during this time. Mustard greens (laai paata) are one of those delights for which I always wait eagerly for the winters to arrive. These mildly aromatic leaves are a speciality from northeastern India and so are an indigenous part of the northeastern cuisine. I am very fond of these mustard greens and therefore thought of trying this authentic manipuri dish with laai paata or laai patta along with fish, as the combination of these two goes extremely well. Many Bengali maachher jhol recipes include the combination of these two ingredients and are relished especially during the winter. Therefore, I found it a perfect combo for trying out this super healthy dish. I came to know about Kangsoi from my manipuri friend who actually insisted me for trying out this recipe once. This fish Kangsoi recipe is adapted from my friend’s Kangsoi recipe with minor changes made by me. Although, I am sharing the fish Kangsoi recipe, I also tried the vegetarian version and both are equally tempting. Below is a picture of my mixed vegetable Kangsoi. For preparing the mixed vegetable version, you may use vegetables like cauliflower or cabbage, french beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes & green peas along with onion, ginger and garlic with addition of some whole cumin seeds and green chillies.You may also try out this recipe with dry fish (shidol/Ngari) along with other vegetables for an authentic feel. Now, let’s jump to the recipe below and get acquainted with this super healthy Manipuri delight :

Mixed Vegetable Kangsoi

RECIPE : (Courtesy: Mamta Singha)

Ingredients:

1) Mustard greens (torn into large pieces) – A bunch

2) Onion (chopped) – 2 medium

3) Garlรฌc (slightly crushed) – 7to 8 cloves.

4) Ginger (grated) – 1 tsp.

5) Rohu fish smeared with salt & turmeric (cut into small pieces) – 6 to 7 pcs.

6) Oil (for frying fish) – 2 tbsp.

7) Salt – to taste.

8) Green chillies (slit) – 5 to 6 or as per requirement.

9) Assam lemon or any lemon juice (optional) – 1 tbsp.

Preparation :

1) Heat oil in a pan and fry the fish pieces till they turn golden. Remove from the flame and keep them aside. Remove the bones if required.

2) Heat pan or kadhai, add some of the chopped onions, ginger and garlic and saute for some time over high or medium flame to dry roast them.

3) When the mixture starts burning slightly imparting a nice aroma, add water (about 700 ml) to the mixture, stir and let it boil over a low or medium flame. (Note : You may skip the step for dry roasting entirely, as this is completely my inclusion to make the recipe slightly more aromatic. Authentic recipe does not include this step.)

4) When the water starts boiling, add the remaining amount of onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Stir the mixture and cover for few minutes.

5) Add the mustard green leaves, green chillies and let it cook by covering for about 10 minutes.

6) Uncover, add the previously fried fish pieces & some more water to maintain the runny consistency and bring it to boil by covering for another five minutes.

7) Uncover again, add the lemon juice and let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more. (Note : Lemon juice is my addition, hence you may skip the same.)

8) Switch off the flame to enjoy your simmering hot soupy curry with freshly steamed rice for a healthy, filling meal in this winter.

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