Meat lovers, brace yourselves for a tantalizing culinary revelation on the horizon – a uniquely flavored, low-fat delight from the enchanting hills of Northeast India may soon grace your plates.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently granted official recognition to Mithun, a semi-domesticated bovine animal, as a food source. This significant development opens the door for the promotion of Mithun consumption and its commercial breeding in the hills of Northeast India.
Mithuns, typically inhabiting altitudes spanning from 300 to 3,000 meters, have long held cultural significance among various tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram. Nonetheless, the promotion of their meat and milk consumption was hindered until the FSSAI officially recognized them as a food source.
“Mithun, as a lesser-known meat source compared to conventional options, brings a novel and distinctive flavour profile to the table of meat lovers in India. Its introduction provides an opportunity for meat enthusiasts to explore new tastes and culinary experiences, enriching their gastronomic journeys,” said Girish Patil, director of Nagaland-based National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM), an agency under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research.
Patil said Mithun meat has a distinct flavour that sets it apart from conventional bovine meat like beef and buffalo meat. Mithun meat tends to be leaner and slightly tougher compared to beef. “The animals’ natural habitat and lifestyle, which often includes more physical activity, contribute to the development of lean muscle.”
According to Patil, Mithun meat is renowned for its comparatively low fat content, rendering it a healthier choice for individuals in search of lean protein options.
“The lower fat content contributes to a different mouthfeel compared to beef. Additionally, Mithun meat contains essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are commonly found in meat products, contributing to its nutritional value.”
In 2019, an estimation indicated that the Mithun population stood at 3.9 lakh, with a substantial 3.50 lakh residing in Arunachal Pradesh alone. The National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM) initially submitted their request for FSSAI recognition in 2017.
Patil mentioned that FSSAI’s acknowledgment would facilitate the promotion of Mithun meat consumption, fostering the growth of commercial breeding and creating additional livelihood opportunities in the Northeastern region.
To commemorate FSSAI’s recognition, the National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM) held the inaugural National Mithun Day on September 1 at their Medziphema campus in Nagaland. Patil revealed that Mithun meat was christened with the brand name “Weeshi,” drawing from Naga terminology.
The celebrations were graced by the presence of notable figures, including Nagaland’s Minister of Higher Education & Tourism, Temjen Imna Along, and Kazheto Kinimi, an advisor in the field of animal husbandry and veterinary, among others.