The north-eastern states of India, also deemed as the ‘seven sisters’ is quite distinct from mainland India. Be it in terms of their culture, heritage, rituals or even cuisine; these states offer a large variety of delectable food which is intrinsic to the region.
Among them, the state of Nagaland has an array of unique and authentic cuisine, that you can’t simply afford to miss. The northeast provides a great escape from the dishes you get to eat in mainland India. With a majority of the population consisting of the tribes, you can get the essence of rustic cuisine. From the ingredients to the final recipes, everything has a unique touch. Nagaland has a flavour which is quite distinct from any other states of India. While in the country you might go in search for speciality restaurant offering Naga food, however, I would suggest an authentic, homely Naga platter can give you the charm!
Read about the unique ingredients that this state has to offer:
Dried pork and dried pork stew!
A constant burning fire is an appropriate set up for the Naga kitchen. You can easily find a burning pit where the fresh red meat is left to dry out. These dried delicacies can be the succulent evening snacks or can even make a delicious curry with all the spicy condiments. So, if you want that earthy pork in your diet, the dried pork is a must to taste! They are exceptionally tender pieces of meat with a crispy exterior. A warming broth with dried meat, is an ideal combination to warm you up, the winter nights! The fieriness in the smoky meat will give you that extra edge to the comfort food from Nagaland.
If you are of the notion, that a Naga cuisine is all that would satiate a carnivorous appetite, you might be little wrong! This hinkejvu is a perfect amalgamation of the cabbage leaves, mustard leaves and colocasia with a generous sprinkle of French beans. A very regular meal in a Naga household, these veggie preparations is just a boiling adventure of the greens. With a sprinkle of salt to these boiled greens, you are presented a flavorful assortment of greens to your appetite.
Bamboo steamed fish
Bamboo is the most common household ingredient in Nagaland. With an ample amount of bamboo production, each part of this magnificent plant is put to use. The bamboo steamed fish is one such use of this multipurpose plant. The local fish is marinated with some regular spices and stuffed into the hollow bamboo. Then this bamboo is placed on the burning ashes, and the fish is allowed to steam in its own juices. This freshly steamed fish has the very essence of the bamboo, itself and can taste delicious with a hint of the spicy chillies from the Naga delicacies!
Even if the meat is an essential source of protein in this state, they simply don’t miss out on the exotic vegetables which are a part of the fresh produce. The regular family meal has an ample constituent of protein which are just lip-smacking. Colocasia is one such ingredient which has a major part to play in the family recipes.
Akibiye is a simple preparation of the colocasia leaves and bamboo shoot, cooked into a spicy and thick gravy. It will simply provide you with a palate full of unique taste, as you devour this leafy affair with a plate full of rice! This meal is popular among the Sema community of Nagaland.
Nagaland will always surprise you with their unique choice of meat. From dogs to pig, they give the ultimate carnivore vibe to your taste. Adding to this is a snail recipe called akini chokiba. The word ‘chokiba’ denotes snail, while ‘akini’ refers to top perilla seeds which are often used to extract the perilla oil. This preparation also involves the addition of the pork lard and the fermented soya beans, which escalates the taste of this excellent preparation! Although snails are used in numerous recipes, this traditional snail preparation will definitely make you fall in love with this form of protein!
Pig is an integral part of the protein content in a Naga diet. Being such closely associated with their food habit, all parts of this animal is put to use, the intestines are no exception. For a light evening snack with their local drink, you can actually much on this spicy mix of this crispy intestines. The intestines are fried with perfect flavours such that you can hardly know about the actual protein base!
Akhuni (fermented soya beans)
Soya milk might be the modern time vegan shizz! However, the use of akhuni or the fermented soya beans is a regular in the Naga household. The soya beans are fermented over a long period and is interestingly used in a number of recipes. Especially the pork with akhuni will surely mesmerize you with all its flavours! They often prepare stew out of it or the exotic chutney made out of these fermented beans is sure to tickle your tastebuds!
If you are the spice freak, you have to make it a point to try samathu! A preparation which will keep you wonderstruck with its hotness level. When the pork with akhuni is prepared in to a curry with this spicy paste of Samathu chilly, a red humdrum is created. It is spicy and full of flavors, quite distinct from the other spicy meals you would try. This dish is speciality from the tribal household of Sema. They have this authentic, flavorful curry served to you with a plate full of rice!
It might sound disgusting, but we shouldn’t forget that each community has developed its own taste according to the situations they have survived. While you might bear an aversion towards, bushmeat, the very special curry is a regular household protein recipe. They consider it a delectable food to enjoy, and it is definitely worth a try if you really want to know and get their cultures right!
After all this spicy, savoury meal, when you try to chill with your filled stomach, you’ll be offered this drink called Zutho. Popular in most north-eastern states by various names, Zutho, is special home-made rice beer which you can find in every other household. It is that drink which is a part of their festival which is completely organic. This is prepared for over a long time, by fermenting cooked rice undercover! The drink is smooth to taste, and a little amount can keep you dizzy!
While exploring an Indian cuisine you cannot just miss out on their own version of Kichdi. Galho, is a preparation made out of a mix of veggies, rice and meat, with chunks of pork and lard. This concoction of vitamin, minerals, fats and proteins bursts with flavours and is sure to give you the desired balanced diet you require for the day! A vegetarian version of galho is as delicious as its non-vegetarian counterpart. This hearty meal is sure to keep you full as you explore through the wilderness of the Naga region!