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Famous Foods Of Nagaland That You Should Not Miss

While some Nagaland foods are quick and hassle-free, others are slow-cooked, but what remains intact is the lingering aroma and taste that makes them so rare, special and extraordinary.

Anannya Chatterjee

Naga cuisine isn’t just about pork and fish cooked in bamboo shoots. Their cuisine is as rich and diverse as their culture. Apart from its beautiful flora and fauna, gorgeous waterfalls and abundant scenic beauty, it’s the plethora of distinct and staple Nagaland dishes coming from their 16 different tribes that draw tourists and food lovers from all over. And especially for those who like their food to be extra hot and spicy the homeland of Raja Mircha a.k.a Bhut Jolokia, one of the hottest chilli peppers in the world, is a food haven that whips up some of the spiciest curries and stews you will ever taste.

Nagaland dishes are mainly based on the local produce with each tribe boasting its own unique indigenous spices, herbs, flavours and ingredients. They use meat (mainly pork), fish, fermented products, herbs, and locally-grown vegetables extensively to make some of the most delectable stews, curries and chutneys that are worth a try. However, you won’t find many restaurants in the region serving traditional Nagaland dishes and you will have to savour them at local homestays, and nothing really gets better than that for a wholesome experience. A regular Naga meal includes rice, pork, fish, boiled or steamed vegetables, and chutney or pickles. Smoked pork made with fermented soybean; akibeye, fish cooked in bamboo, and hinkejvu are some of the most famous dishes of Nagaland. While some Nagaland foods are quick and hassle-free, others are slow-cooked, but what remains intact is the lingering aroma and taste that makes them so rare, special and extraordinary. But before we get on to the dishes, let’s take a look at the local ingredients that do all the magic.

Unique native ingredients of Naga food

1. Axone

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Popularised by Axone, the Netflix film starring Sayani Gupta, Akhuni is a key ingredient in most Naga dishes. Made with fermented soybean, axone also known as akhuni is Nagaland’s most popular ingredient used by the Sumi tribe. The word ‘akhuni’ translates to a strong pungent aroma and it’s made by boiling and fermenting soybeans. It’s used mainly to make smoked pork, beef or chicken, stews and chutneys.

2. Fermented fish

Northeast cuisine, especially Naga food is dominated by fermented ingredients, dry fermented fish is one of the primary ones. It’s used to make some delicious chutneys and staple food of Nagaland that goes best when cooked with colocasia leaves.

3. Colocasia 

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Colocasia leaves or yam leaves also known as taro leaves are extensively used in Naga food. They are a good source of vitamin A and are good for your eyes and prevents age-related macular degeneration. They are also rich in vitamin C which helps to build immunity and prevents cancer.

4. Anishi

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Anishi is an important part of Naga cuisine. Popular among the Ao tribe, Anishi, a famous dish of Nagaland is basically dry fermented colocasia stems and leaves made into patties and smoke-dried, and it’s quite a time-consuming process. Anishi cooked with smoke-dried pork is one of the most loved delicacies of Nagaland. They are also used to make vegetable stews and soups which are considered as staple food of Nagaland.

5. Bamboo shoot

Bamboo shoots and northeast cuisine are synonymous. In Nagaland, they prefer to use dried and fermented form and some of the most popular dishes cooked are pork and fish cooked in bamboo shoot, that adds a unique smoky flavour to the dish.

Here is the list of the top 10 famous dishes of Nagaland

Now that we know about their native ingredients that make the food unconventionally good, let’s take a look at some of the most famous Nagaland dishes.

1. Akibeye

Made of just mustard leaves, colocasia roots (also known as arbi), very little salt and water, this thick spicy non-vegetarian dish is a staple food of Nagaland that goes best with rice and other non-vegetarian dishes. This famous dish of Nagaland originates from the Sema community is healthy and easy to make.

2. Samathu

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This spicy pork curry originates from the Sema tribe of Nagaland, and no meal is complete without it. Made with fermented soybean or axone with smoked pork, this famous dish of Nagaland is slow-cooked to achieve the desired taste and aroma.

3. Awushikulho

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Another healthy and famous dish of Nagaland attributed to the Ao tribes is this heavenly bowl of chicken stew made with zero oil, negligible amount of herbs and spices, ginger, lots of seasonal vegetables and water, just what you need on a chilly day to warm you up.

4. Hinkejvu

Nagaland’s famous dish Hinkejvu is relished as a part of their daily meal. This staple food of Nagaland is made by boiling french beans, colocasia leaves, cabbage leaves, and mustard leaves with just a pinch of salt.

5. Akini chokibo

Belonging to the regions of Nagaland, AkiniChokibo is a famous food in Nagaland, and an expensive one. ‘Akini’ translates to perilla seeds, a type of herb from the mint family, and ‘chokibo’ means snails. The dish is made by roasting and grounding the Perilla seeds which are further cooked with snails.

6. Galho

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Galho is basically a Naga version of the regular khichdi. This staple food of Nagaland is a thick soup made with rice, seasonal vegetables, smoked pork and chunks of pork fat - the key ingredient in this iconic dish. It usually comes topped with ginger and garlic. So warm and comforting!

7. Bamboo steamed fish

Bamboo and northeast cuisine are inseparable. Fish with bamboo shoots or fish steamed in bamboo is one of the most popular delicacies among the Ao Nagas. The fish is first marinated with native spices and herbs like red dried chilies, garlic, bamboo shoot squeeze, and salt and then stuffed into a bamboo steamer - if it’s fermented even better. It goes best with hot steaming rice.

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8. Raja mircha pickle

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A staple accompaniment in every Naga meal is the famous Raja Mircha pickle made from Naga Morich or Bhut Jolokia, one of the spiciest peppers. It is made by pounding cumin, mustard, fennel seeds and turmeric first and then roasting them altogether. This is followed by leaving them to ferment under the sun for a week or so.

9. Nap naang

Nap Naang, one of the famous foods of Nagaland is essentially a black rice pudding that is quite chewy in texture but a treat to your taste buds. It is mildly sweet with an innate nutty flavour that originates from the black rice.

10. Amrusu

Last but not the least definitely is the famous Naga food Amrusu - a comforting bowl of porridge made with chicken, ground rice and bamboo shoots topped with ginger, garlic and green chillies - that simply enhances the flavour. 

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