Nagaland is known for its scenic beauty and lush greenery, but one of the lesser known attractions is food of Nagaland. Being one of the major states in the northeastern part of India, Nagaland is an important tourist site and offers a range of authentic delicacies and flavourful cuisines.
Naga cuisine mostly consists of meat and fish, which are often smoked, dried or fermented. Naga people tend to prefer boiled edible organic leaves on their plates, but also prefer spicy food due to their love for the most famous king chilly, also known as Raja Mircha in the northeast.
Naga cuisine also offers a wide variety of pork dishes which are made in an exotic way but with simple and flavorful ingredients. Pork with bamboo shoot is one of common dishes that Naga people love.
Check out some of the prominent dishes of Nagaland –
Samathu is a famous dish originating from the Sema/Sumi district in the state in which fermented soybean or axone is used with smoked pork to make a thick curry. A large amount of chilli powder is also added to make the dish spicy. It is later cooked slow to give it more flavor. Samathu is one the traditional foods of Nagaland primarily consumed in Sumi houses.
Fish in Bamboo
Naga people often like to cook their food by using Bamboo tubes. The fishes are first marinated with spices and masala then filled inside the tube before it is kept on the fire to cook well. Once the fishes are cooked, the dish is ready to be consumed. Fish in bamboo is a must try for tourists in Nagaland.
Axone (akhuni) is made of fermented soyabean and is one of the most popular foods in Nagaland. Axone can be prepared in many ways. It is mostly served as a side dish in powdered form and cake form. Some popular ways to prepare it are - It is used along with vegetables for making stew and is most importantly used to make chutney. Every household’s favourite Axone dishes are: Smoked pork in Axone, Dried river fish with Axone, Dried beef with Axone.
Aikibeye is a spicy non-vegetarian dish comprising of mustard leaf and Colocasia roots. It is cooked in very little water and salt. The gravy is generally thick which is due to the minimal use of water. The dish is best consumed with steamed rice.
One of the favourite dishes of Naga people is Bushmeat or dog meat, which is available at reasonable prices, hence locals and restaurants use this meat to make toothsome recipes. A live dog is sold for Rs 500 to Rs 600 at Wednesday bazaar in Dimapur and people throng in large numbers for business. Dog meat is considered to be a delicious dish among Naga people.
Zutho is a fermented rice beer of Nagaland equivalent to Apong. The drink is prepared by sprouting, fermentation by yeast and enzymes and is famous in Nagaland. People consume this drink with friends and family and are their main source of enjoyment.
This simple dish is an everyday meal of Naga people. It is cooked with colocasia, shredded cabbage leaves, mustard leaves, French beans and a pinch of salt. All of these ingredients are mixed together and are boiled in a vessel until it’s fully cooked to merge the savour for a perfect cuisine.
Black sticky rice pudding
Diabetic patients often consume healthy pudding as it lowers insulin levels and this Chinese black rice is glutinous in nature. This pudding is cooked by adding coconut milk and brown sugar for sweetness and warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and star anise.
Akini (perilla seeds) Chokibo(snails)
Akini Chokibo is basically cooked by roasting and grounding the perilla seeds, soya beans and paddy field snails. The flavor can be enhanced by adding axone and lard from the pork. As a tourist, Akini is a must try dish as it tastes different from mainstream Indian food.
Bamboo shoot is largely used for preparing almost any meat dish in Nagaland. It enhances the sour taste in the dish and is considered a major ingredient. Bamboo shoot is famous in almost all northeastern states as it gives a unique taste. It is healthy to consume as they are rich in fibres and vitamins.
Galho is one of the soupiest Nagaland food recipes with a combination of rice, vegetables and meat. It is prepared using a mixture of seasonal green vegetables and is further flavored with smoked pork or chunks of pork fat. The dish is often topped with ginger-garlic and is considered an important dish in Naga culture.
Amrusu is Ao tribe’s trademark dish which is made with green chillies, ginger and garlic. It is combined with pulverised rice, chicken and bamboo shoots and is usually consumed as a comfort dish.
Smoked pork with Axone
Axone, also known as Akhuni, is considered a staple in Naga dishes. It comes in powdered or cake form and is used commonly in stews along with other vegetables. Pork is the preferred meat in the state and together, it makes a special dish.