Updated: Apr 10, 2021
Translated from Kokborok by Hamari Jamatia. To read the original article click here.
Snails are found in large quantities in Tripura. On any given day, you will find this Tripuri delicacy being sold in its bigger markets. As chicken flu remains a serious health hazard, we have been resorting to eating snails as a healthy alternative. They live and grow in shallow waters mostly on the banks of streams and lakes. Today, I will tell you how I usually collect snails and cook it so keep reading.
First, I visit my village of Bag Para in Lembucherra area. There is a small stream that runs on its borders. I walk till the stream and start picking up small sized snails. They are usually the tastiest. Once I have picked up enough of them, I take them home to start the cooking and cleaning process:
Firstly, I wash the snails thoroughly with salt and water to remove all the mud and bacteria from its shell. Then I leave it aside for some time.
Next, I pluck a raw papaya, peel it and chop the fruit into medium-sized cubes.
In a twg (a kind of pan) I put the snails and papaya and then add salt, half-teaspoon haldi, slit green chillies, and fermented fish called berma. I add a half cup of water and set it to boil with the lid shut.
Soon the water starts to boil and the dish begins to cook. I keep mixing every 2-3 mins. Once the papaya is tender, I add some coriander and let it cook for one more minute. The dish is ready!
The smell of dhaniya makes the dish very aromatic. The combination of raw papaya and snails is very tasty. In Tripura, we cook snails with the same recipe but with many other vegetables such as pumpkin, wild yams, and bambooshoot. It goes well with all of them. If you have a lot of time, you can use a safety pin to extract the meat from the shell and make a chilly chutney, locally known as mosodeng. You can also fry it in oil with other vegetables and eat. Snails are very versatile as they add flavour to all kinds of everyday vegetables. They are also a source of income for women who collect them and sell them in the market. Since they live and thrive in unpolluted rivers and streams, they are a healthy alternative to factory-produced meat.
If you are ever in Tripura, do request a local friend to prepare this dish for you so you can enjoy them too. Snails are only cooked by the indigenous population and will not be available in any restaurant. Your best hope is to be invited to a home to be served this dish.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.