The Culinary Gems Of Nagaland Make It The Foodie Destination
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Nagaland is a northeastern Indian state that shares a border with three other states: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur. It also shares a 215-km-long international border with Myanmar. It’s home to 16 tribes with distinctive customs and habits and hosts the famous Hornbill festival. Food from each group consists of the same ingredients, but there are also certain items that are special to a specific group. Naga rice, pork, chicken, dog, insects, worms, vegetables, and spicy sauces are critical to the diet.

A glimpse into the world of Naga cuisine

Despite the troubled past of this state, the people of Nagaland are genial, articulate, and hospitable. But this spirited lot do prefer their food spicy! In every Naga household, "Ghost chilies" (named after Bhut Jolokia, the world's hottest chili), and ginger are used plentifully. Nagas prefer to have steamed food rather than fried dishes.

Why is Naga cuisine trending nowadays?

Naga food is very trendy, and the reason for that lies in the ingredients and the art of combining certain herbs and spices with meat and bamboo shoots. There are no oil-based ingredients in their dishes, and they liberally use fermented foods, so the popularity of Naga food is understandable. Every tribe in Nagaland has their own favorites, such as fermented bamboo shoots, which the Lotha Nagas enjoy; fermented soy beans, which the Sumi tribe enjoys; and axoni, which is dried taro leaves and popular in the Dang valley.

Where to eat Naga dishes

There are very few restaurants in Nagaland, as people prefer home-cooked meals rather than eating out. You will find a few restaurants selling momos, but to eat a good meal of traditional Naga cuisine, you will have to do that at one of their homes.

Nagaland's Most Famous Dishes

Among the Naga people, pork is well liked and eaten. They smoke pork with fermented soyabean and rice, as well as a chutney called 'Tathu.' Snails with pork, silkworm larvae, and Naga curry made with mashed potatoes are also popular.

Here are some popular dishes from Naga cuisine:

1. Dried Pork

A traditional Naga kitchen fire is always outdoors, where meat hangs above the flames and slowly dries out and smokes, which is so important in Naga cooking. Pork is a commonly eaten meat in Nagaland that is dried and smoked for several weeks or even longer, after which the meat is ready to be consumed. The smoky exterior of the meat contrasts sharply with the intensely scrumptious smoky interior. It is outstanding with rice.

2. Akibeye

Akibeye is a flavorful and spicy vegetarian dish from Nagaland made up of mustard leaves and colocasia roots in a thick gravy. In foodie speak, this is referred to as a three-ingredient dish that can be cooked in a half-hour or less. This curry with thick gravy comes from the Sema community, and is best had with a bowl of freshly steamed rice.

3. Pig Intestines

Naga people are very fond of pork. Studies from 2020 indicate that this state alone consumes over 60,000 kgs of pork every day.Pig organs are eaten in great quantities and are among the most prized. These intestines - pork innards - can alsobe made like cured bacon strips with sausage meat. Pork innards are the stuff of special memories for the kids of Nagaland, and remain one of the main dishes on special occasions in the state. 

4. Fish cooked in bamboo

Thisdish is prepared by filling fish with bamboo and smoking them over a fire. The mixture of aromatic spices and fish smoked inside bamboo gives this dish a unique bamboo flavor that is much loved by the Nagas. Bamboos are low in calories, so you can indulge a bit more than usual if you’re feeling a bit peckish. 

5. Beans

This dish includes beans, tomatoes, peas, cabbage, and all sorts of natural Nagaland ingredients. Despite being a light veggie dish, it is garnished with chili sauces and curries.

6. Galho

Galho is a soupy mixture of rice, vegetables, or meat, similar to khichdi. The dish is usually prepared with a variety of greens flavored with smoked pork. Ginger and garlic are added for garnish.

7. Pork Stew

Just as good as the plain smoked meat was the smoked pork stew. The dried, smoky pork was chopped into bite-sized pieces before being boiled in a thin soup that included potatoes, tomatoes, and chilies.

It was salty and so smoky that I could almost taste the fire—a great thing in my books!8. 

8. Zutho

Zutho is a popular rice beer, along with Apong, which is well loved by the people of the North East, especially by the Nagas. Zutho has a famously fruity odor and contains 5 percent ethanol. Research done on Zutho indicated that its unique aroma had characteristics similar to those of Japanese sake and sprouted rice sake. 

9. Akini

Perilla seeds, soy beans, and paddy field snails are roasted and ground to produce akini. In addition to these ingredients, axone and pork fat are added to the dish to improve its taste and texture.

Nagaland's cuisine is unique and delicious, adding splendid flavors to India's diverse palate. This beautiful land offers tourists a chance to explore new cultures through foods that act as a bridge for India's majority, which has a limited understanding of this underappreciated region. If you’re planning a trip to the North East, you must venture beyond the boring safety of dal-chawal-roti-sabzi and try Naga cuisine. Many of these delectable foods can also be found at North East Food Festivals held across the country.