This week's secret: I simply adore snails. Not all of them, mind you, but to be precise, freshwater snails. Not as pets in my aquarium (I have one back in Imphal). You guessed right (or didn't?) I adore them on my dinner plate! That's right dearies! Did I hear a yechhh! and a yuuckkk!? Lemme tell you, before you curl up your nose in disgust, that the French consider snails to be one of the ultimate delicacies. They have them cooked with a variety of condiments, picked out of their shells with a special fork...but I like snails cooked the Meitei way--stir fried in their shells with potatoes, seasoned with herbs and red chili peppers--chewy and yet succulent. Yummm. The other recipe is equally tantalizing: herbs, chili, onions, garlic, potatoes and peas all cooked with the snails in their shells to a gravy like consistency...Another yummm. Pick out the snail, scoop up some gravy, and suck out the flesh...quite a task, but entirely worth the effort.
The recipe is of course a secret known only to Meitei moms. Not a mom yet, though I am a Meitei, so I cannot tell you yet! But if you are lucky enough to be visiting Imphal, do visit the local rice hotel and ask for tharoi thongba. Who knows, even if you have been to Paris and tasted escargot, you might want tharoi more!
...Hail the snail