Soya Bean – an Ingredient for the Most Notorious Dish of Meghalaya!
Soya bean is a leguminous plant that was discovered during the 11th century B.C. China is believed to be the first nation to domesticate soya bean [Glycine max(L.) Merrill] and since then it has been an integral part of their daily pulse requirement. Soya bean has high protein content in comparison to other seeds and pulses. For this reason, it has earned the most unlikely yet fitting “meat of the fields” or “meat without bones” nomenclature.
The Chinese considered the soya bean one of their essential Five Sacred Grains, along with rice, wheat, barley, and millet (Source)
How does the plant look like? Soya bean plant is erect and leafy and can flourish even under drought conditions. Normally the seeds sprout by the third day of sowing and it becomes a fully grown bushy plant by the 2nd month. By the 4th month it starts yielding pods of soya bean.
Soya Bean in Meghalaya
Meghalaya cuisine has a wide variety of uniquely flavored foods and “tungrymbai” stands out the most. Tungrymbai, a notorious dish of Meghalaya is prepared from fermented soya bean and is a local delicacy relished by the ethnic tribes of Meghalaya. The sticky food with a somewhat unpleasant smell (if you are new to it) is a very popular dish which serves as a chutney substitute as well as a side dish.
Quick Gist of How Tungrymbai Is Made:
Soya bean seeds* are soaked overnight and boiled till they are tender and soft
Excess water is drained off
It is then placed in a basket over a locally grown fresh wrapping leaf
This basket is then kept in a jute bag and left to ferment naturally
It requires temperatures of about 25-400C, preferably near a fireplace for 3-4 days