#10 - Our Journey Across The 29 States - Nagaland
Our journey across the 29 states of India continues with Nagaland, India’s 25th largest state by area. Nagaland is known for being exquisitely rich in flora and fauna and is habitat to some of the dandiest plants and animals in the world. Nagaland is often referred to as, 'The Falcon Capital of The World'. The culture and social structure of the Nagas is unique as it varies from one tribal community to another. These tribal communities have arisen from a long history of inter-village quarrels which led to over 16 tribes co-habituating in such a small state.
Although the main 16 tribes in Nagaland differ in other areas, often their traditions, practices and food overlap. Although there are certain dishes specifically associated with certain tribes. Rice, pork, chicken, dog, insects, worms, vegetables are an essential part of the Naga diet. Other important ingredients include bamboo shoots, ginger, colocasia and the notorious Ghost pepper. It’s important to remember although dishes may overlap, each tribe and even each household has distinct means and methods to make their food so unique, so no two Naga dishes are likely to be the same. We picked out some of our favourite dishes from Nagaland:
Smoked pork spiced with bhut jolokia in a rich gravy is one of the most synonymous dishes of the region. This is often served with freshly boiled vegetables and makes for healthy and wholesome meal.
Another Nagaland classic is bamboo steamed fish. Although it may seem bland, the subtle flavour of the bamboo slowly kicks in and leads to an explosion of flavours. The fish is cooked with fewer spices to allow the flavour of the bamboo to come through and is often enjoyed with steamed rice.
If there is one place that can offer a vegetable curry cooked in pork fat, it’s Nagaland. The Nagas add a unique non-vegetarian twist to the local favourite rongmei cauliflower curry by cooking the delicacy in pork fat which is used as a binding agent to give a one-of-a-kind taste. Like most Naga dishes, this one also is given a generous dose of chillies and garlic, giving it a solid kick but balancing off well when served with hot chapatis.
At The 29 States, what we take from Nagaland is that no dish should be the same as any other. We always aim to add our unique twist on flavours, cooking styles and techniques to each dish, hence our customers can always tell the difference in taste between a 29 States curry and a normal curry.