PEOPLE AND RECIPES
RECIPES & CUISINE.
People of the district are largely rice eaters though maize too happens to be the staple food. Inhabitants of the district also consume dals (lentils), fresh vegetables, bamboo shoots, wild flowers, mushrooms and nettle leaves in their regular meals. On the non-vegetarian side, beef, pork and fish are popular items. Meat and dairy products are consumed depending on their availability in different regions. Practice of eating fermented vegetables and beverages is a norm in the tradition. This helps to preserve vegetables when they become out of season. Soups, an assortment of pickles (a unique one with a each dish) and a variety of beverages make the food more delightful and help the people to face the chilly weather of the district. The famous recipes of East district are:
- Momo (steamed dumpling)
- Tomato Achar (Pickle)
- Thukpa /Gya-Thuk (Noodle soup)
- Kinema curry (Fermented soybean)
- Gundruk and Sinki Soup (Fermented vegetable)
- Gundruk ko Achar (Pickle)
- Chhurpi Soup (Traditional cottage cheese)
- Chhurpi ka Achar (Pickle)
- Chhurpi-Ningro Curry (Chhurpi with wild fern)
- Sel Roti (Fermented rice product)
- Shimi ko Achar (String bean pickle)
- Mesu Pickle (Fermented bamboo shoot)
East district is a homogeneous blend of multi- communities, multi- culture, multi-religions and customs. The district, traditionally home of many ethnic groups is largely constituted of three ethnic groups, namely, the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalese. The Lepchas stated to be aborigines comprise of 10% of the population, followed by 12% of Bhutias and 70% of the population by Nepalese.
The schedule tribes comprise of Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpas, Limboos, Tamangs etc, whereas the schedule castes comprises of Kami, Damai, Lohar,Sarki and Majhi etc
As per the religious groupings, Hindus are 60% of the population, followed by 30% of the population by the Buddhist, 8% Christians and 2% by others.
The Lepchas said to be aborigins of Sikkim are of mongoloid descent. There are different theories regarding the origins of Lepchas. The most widely accepted theory relating to their origin is that the Lepchas are originated from Sino- tar Platue of Burma. The major concentration of Lepchas can be found in Dzongu in north district and Dikchu in east Sikkim, Rinchenpong in west sikkim and several other parts. In order to preserve this fast vanishing tribe, the chogyal had declared Dzongu as a Lepcha reserve. Non Lepchas were thus barred settling there. Before adopting Buddhism or christianity as their religion, the earliest Lepcha settlers were believers in the bon faith or mune faith, which is based on spirits, witch- craftry, exorcism and nature worshiping. Hence, Lepchas, are shy and quiet in nature, prefer living in complete harmony with nature and its natural surroundings. One of the important deity of the Lepchas, Tamsangthing is said to have invented the rich Lepcha script.
The Bhutias are believed to have originally come from the Kham area of Tibet, by following prince Khey Bhumsa.They are evenly distributed throughout the state of Sikkim. In northern Sikkim where they are the major inhabitants, they are known as the Lachenpas and Lachungpas and they inhabit the areas around Lachen and Lachung respectively having their own traditional legal system known as ‘Zumsa’ and with its legal head ‘pipon’. The Bhutia aristocrats are known as the Kazis. The Language spoken by the Bhutia is Sikkimese which is in fact a dialect of Tibetan language and has the same script as Tibetans. They love festivities, songs and music and have an impressive tradition handloom and handicrafts.
The Nepalis now constitute more than 80% of the total population of Sikkim considerably out numbering the Lepchas and the Bhutias. The majority community of Nepalis began coming to Sikkim somewhere in 1860s with the then ruler of Sikkim granting a lease in Sikkim to some Nepali traders. Due to their adjusting nature and hard work, the Nepali setters introduced the terraced system of cultivation and this brought large tracts of hilly terrain to yield crops productivity. Major sub-cultural stocks of the Nepalese are the Kiratis who along with the Lepchas are said to be the aborigines of Sikkim. Some of the major Nepali social groups are Limboo, Tamang, Gurung, Newar, Mangar, Sunwar etc. The language spoken by the Nepalis are Nepali and have the devanagri script. The Nepali language is also used as the common language spoken for interaction by every community. Majority of the Nepalis are devout Hindus. They have fabulous art, cultural traditions, folk lores, legends, rituals, believes and practices.