Fun with starfruit

The small star fruit plant in the compound is as always laden with fruits. It looked pretty! and even more so when cut to make those little stars from which it has been given one of its several names – the star fruit! Otherwise also known as carambola and in my language, heinoujom.

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WPC: (foodie) opposites

Ben Huber’s challenge this week is to think of Opposites. My first thoughts were of oppositions as in standing apart but then thinking about how i would express it in photographic frames, most of the photographs that I had in mind seem to be complementary rather than stand apart. Contrast rather opposition.

It made me think of the old lines ‘opposites attract’ but it also made me think of an off-handed remark someone once made: if put an attractive thing and a repulsive unattractive thing next to each other, it would increase the quality of both.


My foodie response to the challenge is ‘hawaijar and fresh u-morok’ or fermented soya bean and fresh chilies of the species locally known as u-morok (some refer to it in English as king chilly, ghost pepper, or know it as bhut jolokia, etc.). Crush the chilies and mix them with the beans and add some salt and you have a side dish that makes most Meiteis drool over.

As ingredients they stand in opposition – the freshness of the chilies retained by being frozen while the soya bean has been soaked,cooked in slow heat and fermented for about five days and has been ‘freshly’ unpacked. It made me think of the binary opposition of Levi-Strauss ‘The Raw and the Cooked’.

The opposition is not just of the ingredients but also of the taste and smell. As a lady once described to me – ‘let the u-morok chilies and the hawaijar war one another’ (u-morok ka hawaijar ga kaonahanlo)!

Be warned, those chilies look damn attractive but they are fiery.



From Above: Trees


A scene at Wangoo village in Manipur (NE India)

My submission in response to Majka’s photo challenge ‘From Above: Trees‘. This is a shot taken on the hillock in the outskirts of the village of Wangoo. I had written my thoughts on the trip on an earlier post. The river is the main source of water for the villages along its bank. locally known as turel achouba (the big river), its English name is the Manipur river. It drains off water from the Loktak multi-purpose dam. from this view point, it is the skies, the river and the trees that is striking.

The trees, however, veils the houses on either side of the river – something i appreciated on visiting the village after taking these shots.The river bank ran along the backyards of the cluster of houses on the east. It was approaching evening by then. there were people drawing water, washing utensils and checking on the fishing nets they had laid down earlier in the day.



Turbulence at the Lake


Scene depicting the turbulence at the Loktak Lake: Choreographed by CYCA Khurai

A moment from the play ‘Poubilai’ depicting the turbulence at the lake caused due to overt human activity that wreaks havoc to aquatic life leading finally to the emergence of the monstrous Poubilai sleeping in the belly of the lake from its deep slumber. He, in turn, turns his ferocity towards human kind as vengeance.

A production of the CYCA Khurai, the play was staged at the National Museum, Delhi  at the inauguration of the exhibition on ‘One Object Exhibition: Poubilai‘ organised by the Bhopal based institute of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangralay (IGRMS).


The Maibi

spirit medium

A moment from the Kanglei Thokpa ritual of Lai Haraoba @ Imphal

The maibi calls on the spirit of Khoriphaba and takes it on to perform the search for ‘his’ bride. As the spirit takes over her, the maibi may become violent or at least display strong physical prowess.

Another pink bloom!

Natonchabi * Pink baby rose * rosa multiflora

Natonchabi * Pink baby rose * rosa multiflora

Pretty flowers that happily bloom in clusters and tend to be gregarious rapidly spreading its branches along fences. For some reasons, this pretty flower is not valued and not particularly cultivated but grows more like a wild flower. with an infamous name as natonchabi , the beautiful blossom is quite underrated.


Idyllic winter: Fruit salad in front, evening sun on the back

Nobab Ametpa: Pomela Salad, a Manipuri recipe

Nobab Ametpa: Pomela Salad, a Manipuri recipe; photo: ©Ingallei

Winter is a time to enjoy the sun and what better way than to enjoy the afternoon with a plate of juicy nobap (pomelo) with the evening sun on your back! Ah yes! Those were idyllic winters spent in the company of friends and family in Manipur.

Pomelo is a citrus fruit readily available in the winter season in Manipur. In the native tongue it is called nobab and is available in two colours – translucent (or white ) and the pink (or red to the native eye). We had two plants in our garden – one of each colour. The fruit is big. An easy way to peel it is to make incision to a depth of about three-fourth of an inch into the fruit and draw slices from the stalk to the head. The incision would cut through the thick cover but would not be enough to cut the inside of the fruit. The next step is to break it open from the head and remove the cover slice by slice.  Make sure to remove the soft white insides of the cover before working on the fruit pulp. It tends to lend a slightly bitter taste.

For the garnish, add salt to taste, roasted chillies (one or two), toasted gram/pea flour and toasted pounded perilla seeds. The last two ingredients can be prepared in advance and stored in bottles. Sugar is optional and I usually avoid it as I have a bias for the sweet taste of the fruits matured on the trees. All you need to do is slightly crush the chillies with salt and toss all the ingredients together.  And it’s ready!

cutting open the pomelo

cutting open the pomelo


shredded pomelo with the garnish: toasted gram/pea flour, toasted & pounded perilla seeds, salt, roasted red chillies




Leibaklei * Indian crocus * rounded galangal; photo ©Rekha Konsam 

The leaves have interesting shades of green for most part of the year but when it is bloom time, there are no leaves. the flowers spring from the ground directly without any leaves around, perhaps because of this, it is called leibaklei (literally, a flower of the ground). The flower is fragrant and delicate but because it crops up even on hard ground and is resilient, it is symbolical of perseverance and hence culturally defined as akhang kanbi leibaklei. It is easy to plant and transplant. I find that the best time to photograph them is in the morning when it has just sprung out its petals and when the light is not too strong. By the evening time, the colour becomes faint and the flower wilts