Friday, May 25, 2012

The Herbs-I (Yorkhung & Santu-Tero)

Two days back, a relative has arrived from hometown. Our guest being very courteous by nature, he brought us some YORKHUNG( Zanthoxylum alatum) and SANTU-TERO (Litsea cubeba) literally tree pepper in tanii.There may be little variation YORKHUNG/YORKHANG and SANTU/SANII-TERO.  Out of my curiosity, I browsed internet to collect more information on Yorkhung and Santu tero. It was unbelievable, that the simple herb found in back home has such an international market value. From various sources I came to learn that these simple seasonal herbs have got many medicinal properties which our forefathers might have never ever learnt. We only use these herbs in our traditional delicacies, that too SEASONAL. These herbs are mostly harvested during April to June.

YORKHUNG( Zanthoxylum alatum)
Wikipedia describes YORKHUNG as herb –which has a unique aroma, and flavour that is not hot or pungent like black, white or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth that sets the stage for hot spices. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, second edition, p429 they are not simply pungent; "they produce a strange tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electrical current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Sanshools appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once to induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive. So theoretically may cause a kind of general neurological confusion."
YORKHUNGZanthoxylum alatum)

            Above described tingling sensation of YORKHUNG is called as hardo in Tanii, literally YORKHUNG’s running effect on the nerves of one’s tongue. That’s why in Tanii, it is always adviced to take care while consuming delicacies made out of YORKHUNG. If consumer is not careful enough he/she may be ended up with AARI-AHA (difficult to breath). Taniis use this herb in delicacies like- YORKHUNG-pillaha, YORKHUNG & Hikhu chutney, PIKKE etc. It can be preserved for future used in dry form; the best way is to store grinded dried YORKHUNG in airtight container. 

This herb is widely used by Orientals in their cuisines and delicacies; its name varies from place to place:
Chinese - huājiāo (literally "flower pepper") also known as Sichuan Pepper
Japanese -sanshō
Konkani - tephal 
Nepali- timur 
Tibetan- yer ma 
Bhutan - thingay
Korean- sancho
English –Toothache tree

Some unknown facts about YORKHUNG
From various sources of internet, YORKHUNG is a deciduous Shrub growing up to 13ft of height. The flowers are dioeciously (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). That mean the plant is not self-fertile.Therefore, both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
YORKHUNG Shrub (Source-Wikipedia)
            The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

YORKHUNG has also got medicinal values to cure certain ailment and diseases like Asthma, Bronchitis, cholera fever, Fibrositis, indigestion, rheumatism, skin diseases, toothache etc.
  •      The seeds and the bark are used as an aromatic tonic in the treatment of fevers, dyspepsia and cholera fever
  •     The fruits, branches and thorns are considered to be carminative (controls gas formation in stomach)
  •     Toothbrushes are made from the branches or twigs
  •     The fruit contains 1.5% essential oil and it can purify water

SANTU TERO literally pepper tree( Litsea cubeba)
SANTU TERO Litsea cubeba)

             If you follow this link  one researcher named Geoth Lyth has mentioned various medicinal properties of the santu tero. Also, other researchers from China and Japan confirmed that SANTU TERO have carcinostatic and antitumoural properties and have potential to treat cancer and tumours. Apart from it numerous of medicinal properties, it is used for seasoning many Asian culinary. It is even used in making particular flavor of pastry too.  Those are the all good properties of  SANTU TERO

               In Tanii, this herb is used as seasoning varieties of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, makes chutney etc. Many other people, mostly Orientals used the same in their culinary, making aromatic oil and also used as flavours for pastries. 

   Some unknown facts   

  • Fresh SANTU TERO  can make you sleepy-if consumed in large quantity.
  • Both SANTU TERO  and YORKHUNG are found in two form. One type is believed to be in its origin form while another is know as "Nema" bo SANTU TERO-its scent is bad, nearly smelling like PARO PAI. And about Yorkhung-its variety is same as of above mentioned. Original one is known as Yorkhung-Yorje and other type is called as SIITII-Yorkhung (Literally elephant Yorkhung, due to its larger size).

   When I browsed further, I came across this sell ad from ebay.

·         Health & Beauty > 
·         Natural & Homeopathic Remedies > 
·         Aromatherapy
100% Pure Litsea cubeba Essential Oil, Price- $11.59

Last but not the least, from various sources, I have already seen that these two herbs-YORKHUNG AND SANTU-TERO are of economical importance, now one question is coming repeatedly in my mind-can we Tanii in particular and Arunachalee in general  think about cultivating these herbs? As per the climatic and soil condition requirements,Arunachal seems to be suitable in the both. I heard about the existing of some YORKHUNG trees somewhere at NENCHALYAN. And also seen local people of POTIN area cultivating SANTU-TERO in large scaleAlthough marketing of products could be little problematic ( due to lack of proper transportation system and storage facilities), otherwise cultivation of such herbs can earn  good return to a cultivators. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


                                                                    EYU GANIIN
              In Tanii beliefs, EYU usually affects the human being –specially the children by causing them to loss appetites, weaknesses/tiredness and slow in growth. Whenever any children are affected, it is being indicated by child’s wish to have food from particular household.
photo from-

            From my childhood, I have faded memory of EYU GANIIN incident. Once my maternal uncle’s (AKU’s) wife (ATA) performed the ritual of the EYU GABI for me. On the day of EYU GABIINI, I remember having tasty morning meal at their home and at the end of ritual I was given some gift along with the TAKI ANII (leaf of ginger), that’s all I can recall.
                  Though scientifically, there may be no correlation between one’s loss in appetite and tiredness to EYU GANIIN and EYU GABINII ritual. In Tanii mythological beliefs, it is believed that EYU is caused by the malevolent god named KOLYUNG EYU-which interfere the growth process of child by making him to loss appetites, weakness and resulting into stunted growth.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fermented Bamboo Shoots-HIKHU,HIYI and HIRIN

           Traditional tanii cuisines and delicacies would be unpalatable without use of fermented bamboo shoots. As varieties of bamboo species are found in the vicinity of Apatani plateau and neighborhood, bamboo shoots are widely use in raw or in form of fermented.Bamboo shoots are harvested seasonally (mostly during Apr-Jun), thus the best way to preserve seasonal& perishable bamboo shoots are done by fermenting processes.

         In tanii cuisines and delicacies, the fermented bamboo shoots are available in three popular forms- namely HIKHU (finely chopped and wet), HIYI (dried HIKHU) and HIRIN (wholesome). Well preserved fermented bamboo shoots can be use throughout the year until next harvesting is done. It is only possible due to natural fermentation processes, there is no rocket science involved,moreover no preservative agent is required. Following steps are involved in fermentation of bamboo shoots:

Fresh Bamboo shoots
Wet  finely chopped fermented bamboo shoot (HIKHU)

Fermented Whole Bamboo shoot (HIRIN)

Dry fermented bamboo shoot (HIYI)

DOs and DON'Ts in fermentation process:

  • Select fresh bamboo shoots only
  • Wash properly to remove all dirt
  • Chop using hygienic chopper
  • Add green chilies before storing (optional)
  • Select airtight glass/plastic jars with lids
  • Store in dry place
  • Don't open the lids of jar frequently during fermentation process
  • Don't allow direct exposure to the heat and sunlight
  • Don't add salt during fermentation, this may result in dehydration and the process would be effected
  • Don't use wet spoon/hand during checking, this may spoil entire fermentation process
  • Don't keep fermenting/fermented bamboo shoot along the fermenting rice beer, strong sour-acidic taste HIKHU/HIRIN/HIYI  may be affected  and spoiled later 

  1. In olden days, hikhu/hirin/hiyi were stored in the containers made of bamboo tube and those were tight capped using special type of wild leaves available in the vicinity. 
  2. Entire fermentation process was done organically.
  3. Strong pungent smell of fermented bamboo shoot may put many people  off  :)
  4. Apatani bamboo (Phylostachhys Bambusoides) are never used for making  HIKHU/HIRIN/HIYI , reason may be- its economical importance in our daily life. 
  5. The  packaged fermented bamboo shoots are available in market.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Siinyan- siillo TANII miyu lu

Siinyan- siillo TANII miyu lu-
Tiipey-paniin mi palyu kobii doku
Yapin-huniin mi hulyu kobii doku
Ahhu-yaari mi giifpa biido ku
Denge-renii mi relyu biido ku
Kente-pulye mi,kente-abhi mi giilyu biido ku
Piidin-khotu mi, adin-akhii mi giilyu biido ku
Siinyan- siillo TANII miyu lu-
Muku-sudu mi talyu biido ku
Dui-Yaachchu mi chulyu biido ku
Dekin-piichan mi khiilyu biido ku
Pyayo-paku mi diilyu biidu ku
O-dijje mi hilyu biidu ku
Aping-chiba mi balyu biido ku
Siinyan- siillo TANII miyu lu-
Gangu- benii mi belyu biita du
Elu benii mi belyu biita du
Biisi- siinin mi silyu biitadu
Ayu- yuniin mi yulyu biita du
Miji-baari mi helyu tabii du
Nitin-hormin mi helyu biita du
Siinyan- siillo TANII miyu lu-
Tiipey-yaping giifpa jalo
Ahhu-yaari mi giilyu jalo
Kente-pulye/abhi mi giilyu jalo
Muku-sudu,dui-yaachu mi opa kujalo
Dekin-piichan,pyayo-paku,O-dije, aping-chiba mi buku majalo
Ngunu TANII ka aya henju-miiju mi helyu-miilyu masa!
Ngunu Tanii ka biisi-ayu, miji-baari, nitin-hormin mi alyu masa!

English Translation for non-TANII readers:
In oden days, Tanii people were known for their Tiipey(Tatoo among both men and women), Yaping-Hullo (Nose pluck, only women) and Piidin (Head gear among men folk). Tanii folks of those days were very simple and same was their dressing. Men folk used to wear Ahhu & yaari (Yaari is a loin cloth covered with supporting layer of Ahhu) and women used to wear Kente abhi and tarii (hand woven clothes, generally thickly woven of cotton). In those days, Tanii children used to have typical hair style known as denge renii. It seems that parents used to shave their children heads with sharpened Yabin (i.e. bamboo piece). Once Tanii children attained their adolescents, their hairstyle had to be changed...boys used to get piidin and girls used tie bunny with help of akhii (comb made of bamboo). At same time, they used to get tattooed and nose pluck.

It has been recorded that Apatani peoples were good craftsmen. They used to make their own clay pot (Dekin Piichan) and also used to carve serving plates out of wooden log (i.e. Pyayo Paka) or bamboo. Whenever tanii folks need to travel, they used to pack their food in small bamboo bag like carrier made of split cane (i.e. chiba) and used Dije (special bamboo container) to carry ‘O’ (local rice wine or water).Tanii folks were fond of using tobacco in their daily life, thus they also used to make smoking pipe (muku-sudu (made of bamboo) for men folk) and tobacco carrier (dui-yaachu for women).

Siinyan-siillo Tanii miyu (Modern Taniis) has left certain practices such as tiipey paniin, yapping huniin and putting piidin. We can hardly find modern tanii using dekin piichan, pyayo- paka, chiba or dije for cooking or serving or for packing; those are replaced with modern cookery items available in nearby market. Neither can we see tanii folk using muku–sudu or dui- yaachu, it has been replaced by factory made cigarettes and tobacco sachets. This way modernization has done some good to TANII like abolishing of tattooing and piercing of nose, otherwise with those practices we could never imagined to pace with developments happening in our surroundings. We have to adopt certain changes for our growth but, we should never neglect to preserve our tradition & culture. LOST OF CULTURE IS LOST OF IDENTITY. Therefore, Siinyan-siillo Tanii miyu should try to preserve Ngunu TANII ka aya henju-miiju mi helyu-miilyu masa! Ngunu Tanii ka biisi-ayu, miji-baari, nitin-hormin mi alyu masa!
Source of pictures:
Tanii Aju-The Heritages Photos Archives of Apatanis authored by-Gyati Kobin
Fotos from FB friends

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A list of animal/birds/insect/nature sounds

This morning when our dogs namely Pogo (German shepherd) and poly (Dachshund) were barking at the postman, something struck my mind. Starting with the barking of dogs, I could recall certain way of typically tanii words to describe sounds that are found in our surrounding.When I started with this topic, i took it very lightly and simply thought that I could complete with great easebut, I swear it wasn't that easy! For instant,I failed to recall certain sound like of Taru (mosquito) and patii (tiger). Following are the sounds in tanii:-
Sl. No.
Aki (Dog)
Kaau / kai (cry)
Byago si aki kaau-kaau la pila do/pido
Alyi (Pig)
Nekang si alyi uye-uye gyula do
Ami (Cat)
Ami atu(puppy) si meao-meao la bela do
Ngyii (fish)
Suyin /shok
Kiiley si ngyii shok-shok dado chila da
Pachu/paro (Chicks- cheep &Chickens -cluck
Piyo /Peyo
Pachu atu si piyo pikang la da
Paro Ronii (Hen)
Inka paro si piida –piida la adu hasu dobye pe ha?
Patii (Tiger)
Paro Rofpo (Cock)
Lengo si Paro rofpo ako khola da/khodo
Aro konchi lyiku ho piita atan si chi-cha adu du.
Sii (Cow)/ Sibu (Mithun)
Bije si siibu ako ooma la adu la do.
Siibi (Monkey)
Sanii ayo si siibi atan si keyun-keyun la bendo.
Ude byakan si siibin ako mehen-mehen adudo!
Tabu (Snake)
Sansu ho tabu sohe rushu-rushu dado lyine
Tami (Fly)
Yoh pater mi tami tshe-tshe dado gokiir biido (‘
‘go’as because fly makes sounds only while flying)
Taru (Mosquito)
Tayang (wasp)
Apu arun ho tayang pyare yang-yang gola da
Tatii (Frog)
Aji is tatii cro-cro khodo
Sounds of Nature
Alyi (Wind)
Myoko uyi aku la padu alyi bhoor-bhoor hedo
Dolya (Lightning)
Byok (not exactly sound,its about lightning)
Yapung genkiile Dolya byok-byok byodo
Miido (Rain)
Ago si miido byor-byor dado hula do
Yapung Geniin (Thundering)
Yapun durun-durun genkiile, iinga si khegiido!
Yamu (Fire)
Bhook/ Byok
More si yamu bhook-bhook yala do
Yasi-tuniin(flooding at river)
Dulu (not sure about the sound)
Kiiley si dulu-dulu yasi tula doye
chambiyo (Flash Flood)
Siyo ayo so dulu-dulu dado chambiyo harne
Myobyu huniin (Earthquake)
Myobyu huli ho tanii ude hii riifpii-riifpi la adu du (here riifpii is for that sound produced by tanii ude during earthquake and it indicates that it is being generated by the action of earthquake)

one can refer to this link for more sounds made by animal

To conclude this article, I would like to request all tanii readers to contibute more sounds in tanii and also to correct my mistakes, if any.