In Meghalaya, multi-cuisine restaurants as well as local food stalls are to be found everywhere. Besides the usual Chinese, Indian and Continental dishes, if one is adventurous enough to sample the local food, one can be sure the taste buds are in for a treat. Rice is the staple food and different varieties from the red rice to the sticky glutinous rice are grown and eaten in Meghalaya. The red rice from the Sung Valley is known to be particularly delicious. Pork in every form is enjoyed by all three communities. The Khasi and Jaintia cuisine are similar and use black sesame seeds to add a distinctive taste to the pork and other dishes. A cold salad of shredded pork with onions and ginger is also very popular.
During the early monsoon, different varieties of mushroom sprout all over the Jaintia and Khasi Hills and these make their way to the local markets. The mushrooms are either cooked in combination with the meat dishes or just fried lightly on its own Rice is cooked either plain or in combination with onions, ginger and turmeric, giving it the characteristic yellow colour this is known as 'jastem'. Another variation is the 'jadoh' which is rice cooked with meat, (namely pork). Rice cakes called putharo and the drier flaky pumaloi are prepared from rice flour. Another variety is the deep fried jaggery sweetened pukhiein and steamed pusla usually eaten as snacks with tea.
The Garo cuisine is simple to cook with different variations adding richness to the flavour. One of the most popular dishes among the Garos is the 'Nakham Bitchi' dish, which is prepared from special dry fish, chillies and a pinch of soda. This is a hot spicy soup and is usually served with rice, together with some other fish or meat dish, usually boiled with yam, pumpkin, gourd, chillies and a dash of bamboo ash water. These dishes are sometimes cooked wrapped in leaves or in fresh
Bamboo cylinders over an open fire, thereby infusing the food with the flavour of the leaves and green bamboo. Also popular among the Khasi, Jaintia and Garos is fish and meat preserved either by drying in the sun or smoking over fire. A variety of chutneys prepared from different types of herbs, fermented soya bean and fermented fish always accompany the meals.
Last but not least is the betel nut and leaf, the perfect end to a hearty meal, and a must serve for guests in every household.
Prominent eating joints in Shillong