Ever had a lotus stem salad laced with fermented fish, evaporated cane juice cookie, chopped eel spiced with chillies or a plate of fried mountain onion roots?

Okay, they’re probably not on the menu of your average restaurant but to my pleasant surprise all the above and much more were on offer in New Delhi at a cultural event dedicated to northeast India.

The main attraction seemed to be the food — cuisines from all eight states that occupy India’s hilly northeast region. Maybe it was because of their novelty factor (not many restaurants in Delhi offer such dishes) but many people lined up at the food stalls (although admittedly, many were probably just gawking at the unusual dishes on display).

Consider this. Manipur state offered a peculiar salad known as the “Singzu” made from lotus stem, cabbage, powdered sesame seeds, mountain herbs, peas and gram touched up with pungent fermented fish.

The main attraction at the Mizoram stall were the fermented bamboo shoots, fried mountain onion roots and even fermented crab mixed with sesame seeds. While the ‘thali’ at the Nagaland stall comprised rice, pork, fried eel flavoured with a highly pungent chilli known as Raja mirchi and fermented soya beans.