E-Pao! Incident - Love, Lust And Longing In Delhi

Kanghau Bora Hotel Chaokhat hanba

Dr. Elangbam Bishwajeet *

With all respect to the many dishes of the world, it is still hard to find many that can be compared to the flavour and exotic taste of our Ngaree and many ensangs and angauba. A Maroi Bora is always better than any of the Pakoras served in any of the Indian restaurants, any day.

If we look at the restaurants in Imphal, or in Manipur for example: Airlines hotel, Hotel Nirmala, Host , Naoba or any of the many cabin restaurants in and around Imphal, they all have one common can't find any indigenous delicacies in any of them!?!.

Why don't Big restaurants in Manipur don't serve Manipuri dishes?!

Are our Bora, kanghau, aloo angouba, pakoura mahi, different varieties of Nga atauba, Nga athongba etc. not worthy to be a choice on the menu? Are Iromba and singju less posh than the chicken cutlets, the omelettes, or the ever famous chicken chowmein available in these Manipuri restaurants?

Why do we Manipuris believe that Momos are for restaurants and Bora, kanghau are for the old EEmas and EEnes hotel or "hoten".

Various organizations and institutes such as RIMS have organised many conferences both national and international where delegates and participants came from all over the India and the world.

It is always an interesting sight to see all the delegates and participants relish the Manipuri delicacies prepared to suit the foreign tongue. It is just a matter of less Morok and delicately modified use of Ngari and Hawaijar

But if such feast is to be held in any of these posh restaurants, there is no way this Non-Manipuri delegate and tourists can taste the exotic delicacies of Oriental there is nothing indigenous in their menu?!

Wouldn't it be a shame if the best restaurants can only serve Chicken Tandoori or Tangri or Kebabs or Macaroni, or Chinese dishes? When Non-Manipuris visits Manipuri restaurants for Manipuri food, how ironic would it be, when they find many dishes from the world, apart from Manipuri foods.

When friends and colleagues coming to Manipur eagerly in search for the authentic taste of Manipur in these cleaner and well maintained restaurants, be prepared to face the embarrassment for not finding your own foods in your own restaurants!

But to us Manipuris, it looks it be still some time before clearing the misconception that everything non-Manipuri is posh (that would leave everything Manipuri primitive and outdated!!)

I once came across a reputed Doctor in Naoba restaurant who came with his gorgeous Family for lunch. Our English literate Doctor started placing orders in English and Hindi to the poor adolescent Nepali and Kuki waiters (children working as waiter during the Naga-Kuki clash).

He and his posh family with (a sari 'phun' clad wife) took some time to understand each other communicating in Hinglish. It was no wonder that the posh ordering took as much time as the actual eating?!! (Thanga fork ka paibasee erai laide ne!!! )

It was an "interesting", sight yet showed the deep seated disease among the many pseudo Literate richer class of pseudo-posh attitude of talking in "non-Manipuri" language in restaurants to poor illiterate Manipuri or to the Manipuri speaking-Non Manipuri waiters.

But, to a place like Manipur where voluntary works are easier to see, I sincerely feel it is just a matter of overcoming a few initial hesitations among many of us, if we wish to see the Many Emas and Abok-run-Leikai-Hotel, as clean hygienic fast food outlet.

The same Leikai Hotel but a cleaner one with Khajing Bora on a china plate served with spoon, fork and knife or with a paper napkin, served in clean chair and table if possible by part time leikai Leishabee or Pakhangs, under tube light or cleaned lantern, maintaining less pollution by use of LPG fuel, would surely attract quite a good number of customers.

The only stopping factor for these small leikai, kanghau-bora hotel would be in the initial finances needed to glamorise and sanitize these Hotels or hotens which serve many breakfast and evening snacks of the laikai-machas and other customers.

A lump-sum estimate needed for the Improvisation of such leikai Hotel might be an amount of around 5000 to 10000 rupees, which in terms of dollars might be around $100.

If only the dollar and pound earning, or any concerned rich Manipuris could initiate such indigenous small business in the form of good-will with no or minimum interest loans, we in the next few years could see some people friendly cleaned posh Bora kanghau Hotel serving traditional Manipuri food and also financially helping families around our leikai as well.

A few days ago, a few Manipuris tried to help our leikai Hotel only to find out that the family who were running it are surviving on some other business as their hotel has been evicted in the capitol project!!

Just an afterthought wouldn't it be nice to go out and have some light snacks like singju or Bora or aloo choop, Uchee Na kanghau, with soft indigenous melodious songs that are not adulterated by cheap copying of Bollywood and Beyonce.

PS: Some translations for the Manipuri words used in this EI by Team Epao -

Kanghau Bora Hotel Chaokhat hanba - How to improve Kanghau Bora Hotel Industry
Ngaree, ngari - Fermented Fish , a common ingredient in any Manipuri dish
Hawaijar - Fermented Soy bean ( Ngato in Japanese )
ensangs - Generic term for Food/dish/entree
angauba - A food preparation by frying in oil
Bora - A specialized pakora - like Japanese tempura coated veggies - with different vegetable
Kanghau - Chickpea fried in Vegetable oil with Onion.
aloo angouba - Mildly fried Potato
pakoura mahi - Pakora curry used sometimes with Kanghou as seasoning
Nga atauba - Fish Fry
Nga athongba - Fish curry
Iromba - Generic name for a hot (spicy) dish prepared with chillies (or habenero) and vegetable and ngari
singju - Specialized vegetable Salad with emphasis on the hot( spicy ness)- The dressing can have ngari and/or fried and ground Sesame seed.
EEmas - Mother as adoringly addressed by everyone
EEnes - Aunties as adoringly addressed by everyone
hoten - Hotel as pronounced in Manipuri!
Morok - Chilly ( green or red)
phun - Full as pronounced in Manipuri .
Hinglish - A combination of spoken Hindi and English.
Thanga fork ka paibasee erai laide ne! - Holding a Knife and fork is not that easy!
Leikai - Locality/Neighbourhood/street
Leishabee - Girls who are not married
Pakhangs - Guys who are not married
Uchee Na - A kind of vegetable

Dr. Elangbam Bishwajeet , practising doctor from Coventry, UK , writes for regularly to
He can reached at [email protected]
This article was webcasted on 14th March 2005.

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