SHILLONG, Oct 6 � The picturesque hill State of Meghalaya, boasting of forests and meadows, also takes pride in its indigenous culture running for centuries with cuisine being an integral part.
Two typical Meghalaya beverages � Cha khoo and Sha shiahkrot � are a big hit among visitors and their acceptance level has risen many fold since they were re-discovered by women self-help groups and marketed.
Cha khoo (cha is tea and khoo is rice in the Jaintia dialect) is traditional rice concoction that yields a beverage similar to tea but leaves a bland coffee taste.
Sha shiahkrot, on the other hand, is an unconventional tea that is derived when a root of Shiahkrot (a creeper) is boiled.
Cha khoo is a refreshing hot drink that tastes partly like tea and partly like coffee while Sha shiahkrot is believed to have some medicinal properties.
Available in a small pocket in the State�s Jaintia Hills district, the preparation of Cha khoo challenge the conventional tea as there is no tea leaves or coffee bean in it but roasted rice only.
The popularity of this beverage was because of an all women self-help group (SHG) in the village and the erstwhile Meghalaya Rural Development Society-LIFCOM which rediscovered and relaunched it and made it a rage among tourists.
Abundant in Mynksan village under Laskein block, the beverage has lately been on a very high demand in local market and there are visitors who have developed a taste bud for this.
In fact, Cha Khoo had been the only hot drink available and popular among a group of villagers in Laskein block, about 90 km from here, until the British introduced tea, N Lapasam who is the secretary of Chirupdeilang SHG in the village said.
According to the SHG leader, people in the village still prefer Cha khoo over their rival Assam or Darjeeling tea. It is more rejuvenating especially after long hours of working in the fields.
Sha shiahkrot, available in East Khasi Hills district�s Khatarshnong village is a different tea altogether.
It is derived from shiahkrot, a red coloured root that grows mostly in the rocky areas of Nongtraw village near Khad-ar Shnong in Sohra (Cherrapunjee).
This root had been used by the locals of that village for ages but their story were never put on public domain.
The concoction � a light maroon coloured drink has a rare earthy taste.
�The art of making tea from this root has been there in our village since ages. Many of us are still following this trend,� said Bibiana Ranee said who spearheaded the movement to revive this medicinal tea.
Ranee has also travelled to many European countries with her recipe to popularise it.
The North East Slow Food & Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) is aiding Ranee in her endeavour to popularise this tea during food festivals and events. � PTI