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Shana Jhiej is a traditional vegetarian starter dish from Meghalaya Cuisine

Shana Jhiej is a traditional vegetarian starter dish from Meghalaya Cuisine
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Shana Jhiej is a traditional vegetarian starter dish from Meghalaya Cuisine. Basically a Bengal gram fritter, this onion-garlic free snack is vegan, gluten-free, protein-rich and distinct in taste because of the use of black sesame seeds in it. Shana Jhiej is crisp and crunchy , mildly spicy and delicious in taste and makes for a perfect tea time snack, though you can serve it as a side dish with your regular meal. It tastes good on its own but I have paired it with a Vitamin C loaded Indian Gooseberry / Amla Chutney.

By now my regular readers must have noticed that month end is the time when I have a regional post for Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group. For the month of February we were on a virtual tour to the beautiful North Eastern State of Meghalaya. My partner for the theme was Renu Dongre Agrawal who blog at CookwithRenu. Renu's blog is a collection of her kitchen experiments from different cuisines around the globe. I like her healthy bakes and desserts the most. Do check out her space for some lovely vegetarian recipes. For the challenge, we both decided to cook a dish with same set of ingredients. And to our surprise, we both ended up cooking the same dish on the same day. Only difference is that I decided to stay with the traditional method of deep frying the fritters, while Renu opted to give the dish a healthy twist by baking the vada. Click here for the link to her recipe.

Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States of North-East India. The state is geologically rich, is mostly mountainous , with stretches of valleys and highland plateaus. Meghalaya has many rivers , most of which are seasonal and rain-fed. The word Meghalaya translates to 'abode of clouds' in Sanskrit. With an average annual rainfall as high as 12000 mm in some areas, Meghalaya is the wettest place on the Earth. This reminds me of my Geography lessons in School, Cherrapunji in Khasi hills, south of capital Shillong holds the world record for most rain in the calendar month.

Meghalaya is a home to three Mongoloid tribes and has a unique cuisine different from the other Seven Sister states of North East India. The staple food of the people is rice with spicy meat and fish preparations. They rear goats, pigs, fowl, ducks and relish their meat.

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Preparation Time: 2-3 hours

Cooking Time:

Serves: 8


  • 3/4 cup split Bengal gram / Chana dal
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger piece
  • 1-2 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying


  1. Wash the split Bengal gram and soak it in water for 2-3 hours.
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2. Drain and transfer it to a grinder jar with green chilies and ginger. Pulse it to a coarse paste adding very little water.

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3. Take out the batter into a bowl , add salt and black sesame seeds to it. Mix well. Take small portion of the batter and shape into vada. Make vadas with all the batter.

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4. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the vadas until golden brown and crisp from all sides. Remove the fritters with a slotted ladle and allow to drain on a kitchen absorbent sheet.

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 5. Serve the delicious Shana Jheij with chutney or dip of your choice.

Recipe Notes:

  • You may add grated ginger to the batter , i have blended it with the batter.
  • Use minimal water while grinding the soaked Bengal gram to batter.
  • Do not skip the use of black sesame seeds in the recipe.
  • The green chili levels can be adjusted as per the spice tolerance.

Topic: #meghalaya
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