Balchao is a popular dish in the northeastern Indian states of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur, made with fermented fish, dried shrimp and local peppers. It is available in large towns and cities such as Shillong, Aizawl and Imphal, but mostly it is homemade. I was born in this part of India and have been making balchao since I was a child.
When I began blogging my interest was to tell stories about my home region, using recipes as a way to learn about the history of these places. But I also noticed that most of my readers were from America or Australia, so I also began including recipes that people could make for themselves at home. Over time, my blog has evolved into a collection of posts from different parts of the world with different themes and ideas.
I have noticed that one thing that unites people across different cultures and regions is their love for food. Food is something we all share. Enjoying food together can be one of the most enjoyable ways to build friendships around the world. Even when some people don’t speak the same language, they can often share food.
My favorite thing about blogging is sharing traditional foods from different places with people who might not otherwise have access to
Balchao is a spicy beef dish, closely related to other dishes from the region such as Vindaloo, Korma, and Rogan Josh. It combines a deep, rich flavor with a complex mix of spices.
It’s also really easy to make. Here’s how.
For the marinade:
1 lb stew meat (beef), cut into 1″ cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried red chilies (or use 2 tbsp hot paprika if you don’t want it spicy)
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tbsps)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 small onion, thinly sliced
For the sauce:
1/2 cup water or coconut milk (I prefer coconut milk)**
2 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato puree or tomato soup. (I prefer crushed or pureed.)**
1 tbsp grated gingerroot**
3-4 whole dried red chilies or 2 tbsp hot paprika if you don’t want it spicy** ** Optional. I like my balchao spicy so I use both the onion and the hot pepper part of this recipe but if you don’t like your food very spicy feel free to omit one or both
Balchao is a very popular dish in the state of Manipur in India. It is usually made with pork or chicken, but you can make it with beef as well. The best part of this dish is that there are no steps; however, you need to have patience and commitment to make it taste good.
Thing You’ll Need:
1) 2 kg beef
2) 1/2 lb ginger
3) 3-4 green chilies
4) salt to taste
5) pepper (optional)
6) vinegar (optional)
7) coriander seeds (optional)…
Balchao is a popular dish from the Indian state of Manipur. It is a dry curry made with fish, pork or beef and lots of black pepper. The original recipe calls for only the pepper and some salt but many Manipuri chefs add vinegar to it. This makes the dish even more sour and spicy.
This dish is not very well known outside of Manipur. There are many kinds of fish that can be used to make this dish like pomfret, Hilsa, Rohu, etc. Fish is marinated in spices like turmeric, red chilli powder, garlic paste, ginger paste with salt added to taste. Black pepper is used generously in this recipe making this dish very spicy and hot. Sometimes vinegar is also added to make it even more sour.
I have tried making this dish several times but I wasn’t satisfied with my results until I found the right ingredients for this dish. I tried using green bell peppers (capsicum) instead of red ones but that didn’t work out. Red bell peppers were required for making this correctly. Also chicken can be used instead of meat/fish if you wish but it won’t taste as delicious as when you use fish/meat for this recipe. Only fresh fish should be used for
To make balchao, you need long pepper. Long pepper, Piper longum Linn. a climbing vine of tropical Asia is the source of black peppercorns and the “long” in long pepper.
In India, it is grown in Bihar, Assam and West Bengal. It has a peppery taste and an aroma that can be described as somewhat similar to that of black peppercorn.
It is a perennial plant, growing up to 7 meters tall. The flowers are white or pinkish with a red throat and are clustered in two’s and three’s at the end of branches. The fruit is round and contain one to three seeds. They can range from dark brown to black depending upon their age.
The fruits are harvested while still green, while they are still soft and pliant rather than hard like black peppercorns which are harvested when fully ripe which turns them black in color. The unripe fruits have a higher concentration of piperine, the alkaloid responsible for pungency in pepper than mature fruits do.*
An essential oil is extracted from the dried ripe fruits of these plants which are steam distilled from the dried ripe fruits of Piper nigrum by solvent extraction method.*
So you have your spices ground into a fine powder at the local Indian grocery store, now what? Well, as with many dishes there are as many recipes as there are people that make it. This is my version and I am sure there will be those who will disagree and some who will love it.
My recipe is for the ground up bhut jolokia pepper, but you can use any ground chili powder you like. There are some different ways to make it, but I am writing how I like to make it. It also makes a great gift for friends back home.
1/4 cup oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
I love spicy food. I love the burn in my mouth, the sweat that starts to bead on my forehead and trickle down the back of my neck. I love the feeling of fire slowly making its way from my mouth to my stomach. Growing up, I never had much exposure to Indian food. Most of what I ate was in restaurants and most of it was terrible.
Tandoori chicken is about as spicy as it got. It was flavorful, but not spicy enough for me. As a young man I turned to Szechwan and Hunan, looking for dishes that could make me sweat through each bite.
I didn’t know then what I now know: that the spiciness of Asian cuisine is an acquired taste, best developed by a slow build-up of tolerance. For example, if you start with Indian food and move gradually eastward, you can develop a taste for Chinese food without ever noticing how mild it actually is.
I also didn’t know that there are spices other than black pepper and cayenne pepper; not until a friend introduced me to long pepper did I finally find what I had been looking for all those years: a spice that can take your head off like a nuclear warhead without leaving you completely unable to appreciate