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Giving A Green Signal: How A Salad Has Become A Popular Snack In Manipur

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

In the world of the Maram tribe of Manipur, gainam or chives is forever a frolicking vegetable. The lip-smacking, finger-licking, aromatic gainam salad has become synonymous with the region as many young people of various tribes, who visit the place for higher studies, carry back with them the word "gainam" sitting deliciously on their lips.

A group of college students enjoying gainam salad. Photos by Monica Kanga T.

The salad is eaten as a group during picnics and gatherings

From time immemorial, gainam salad has been associated with anatomical movements, either in the form of field work, gardening, gathering firewood, or even fetching water from the village ponds; chores that are carried out in groups or by an entire family, and hardly in singularity. It is after a physically exhaustive exertion that people crave for the salad to be had along with rice-brewed-wine or tea, especially on a blistering summer day. Talk about gainam with a septuagenarian or an octogenarian, they would say that it’s the food of the young, and they would reminisce how they would savour it when they were young and strong with good metabolism. They would also describe dozens of nostalgic events where they had a hearty party with just gainam, and provide exciting information about the exact spot, time of the day, and the people they were with.

Ingredients are added and measured using personal instinct

Gainam, staying true to its youthful characteristics is scarcely eaten during the morning or evening meals. It is a salad that has made a niche for itself in the lunch. A youthful companion to picnics or outdoor potlucks, it is eaten to the tune of guitars and great singing and dancing. It is a dish that loves joyful sounds, bringing the hills, fields and streams alive with cheer. It is a friendship creator and relationship builder. It would be fair to say that gainam has also officially registered itself with the young folks that love to watch beautiful sunset at sunset points, under the shed of branching trees and stone seaters, where lovers make and break promises.

Unlike other recipes, there is no measuring out of ingredients in tablespoons, teaspoons, and cups or a weighing scale. Gainam can be made using green vegetables, but, the chives is the cheerleader and the clincher of the salad. Other vegetables include: taro stem, lemon mint, fish mint, cilantro, bitter tomato, water dropwort, country ginger with its stem, cherry tomato, centella asiatica, green chili, king chili, and salt

The first step is to wash the vegetables thoroughly and drain them completely. It is advisable to sun dry the vegetables for a couple of minutes. The vegetables are not diced using a knife but are wrung into smaller pieces manually by hand for better taste. Once all the vegetables are mangled and assembled, salt and chilies are mashed together which is then used to marinate and notch the vegetables. And your gainam salad is ready!

About the author: Monica Kanga T is a Maram from Manipur. She received her PhD degree from the University of Hyderabad and is an independent researcher.


Luikang Michael
Luikang Michael
Aug 09, 2022

Well scripted & written. Worth reading, continue writing and keep inspiring!


Such a beautiful and endearing write-up about our beloved Gainam. ❤️

Love this so much!

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