If Hilsha is the heart and soul of West Bengal, then Pengba is no less in Manipur. A fish particularly loved and liked for its different taste and aroma, this is also declared as the state fish of Manipur. Pengba is locally called as Belangiri puti also and popularly known as the HILSHA of Manipur. A fish that was popular in Manipur only, is today known by the Bengalese as well and that has been possible only because ICAR-CIFA who successfully commercialized its captive breeding technology of this fish species.
The leadership of Dr Pratap Chandra Dash, Principal Scientist for the breeding of this fish species is commendable. This fish feeds on different food items that are generally available in the pond system which includes algae and detritus vegetation. However, it can be fed with supplementary fish feed as well. Its growth table is much like rohu/grass carp which is almost a Kilogram in a year time.
The reason behind terming this fish species as the Hilsha of Manipur is that not only by look but by taste as well, it is much alike Hilsha. Like Hilsha, the Pengba too is oily and soft in nature. Well, there is another similarity between the two and that is the price is costs. For buying this fish during the festivities, one will have to sure make a hole in his pocket! Fr buying one kilogram of this fish you have to be ready to pay more than Rs.800/kg (live) and especially in demand during the Nigoi Chakouba celebrations.
Like the wide varieties of chillis and green herbs of the state which are hardly known outside its boundary, the Pengba too was one which was limited to the Manipuri people only. But now, with its spreading popularity, it is expected that more and more people will start liking its taste and Hilsha for sure, is going to get a good competition from it.