The Nagas are an indigenous community consisting of more than 40 tribes residing in parts of Northeast India and Myanmar. There are 14 major Naga tribes residing in Nagaland along with different other tribes and communities whose traditional Naga cuisines are popular not only among the Nagas but also among the other Indian communities and foreign citizens. To know more about the traditional Naga cuisines, we must understand that the Nagas are meat lovers.
At least 90% of Nagas are meat lovers; while the rest of the 10% are vegetarians. But this doesn't mean that the Nagas serve only meat while having their food since, every lunch or dinner is accompanied by boiled green leaves, vegetables, salads and other vegetarian foods.
This means that the Nagas consume vegetables just as much as they consume meat. Thrusting forward, let us have a closer insight into the various types of traditional Naga cuisines which will make your taste buds bleed with saliva.
Commencing with the first cuisine, it is pork meat cooked together with bamboo shoot, axone(fermented soybean) and anishi. The pork meat can either be fresh, dried or smoked. Each tribe has its own unique way of preparing it. The bamboo shoot is a special delicacy of the Lotha Naga tribe and it is used while preparing this special cuisine.
It can either be a fresh bamboo shoot, dried bamboo shoot or pickled bamboo shoot. Also, the axone or fermented soybean is a special delicacy of the Sumi Naga tribe and it can either be consumed fresh or dried.
Anishi is a special delicacy of the Ao Naga tribe and it is made from the leaves of the colocasia plant. Fry the pork for 10 minutes, then add the three ingredients, along with chilli powder, king chilli (optional) mashed ginger and garlic, then add water and salt and let it cook for more than 40 minutes. You can serve it with warm rice along with mashed king chili, boiled cabbage or other green leaves.
Secondly, we have the famous beef and pork innards which can be prepared either by frying or without frying. The innards include the liver, kidney, heart, lungs, small and big intestines, spleen, etc.
To prepare this traditional cuisine, it is actually very easy since the ingredients used are found almost everywhere in the local market.It is very easy to cook since the ingredients used are found almost everywhere in the local market. However, the innards which can be of both beef or pork has to be cleaned properly and thoroughly with warm clean water to remove the unwanted organs if there are any. The innards need to be cut into pieces, not too small since consuming large chunks of meat has always been Naga's way of eating.
After cutting into pieces and cleaning it spotlessly, it can be fried along with ginger, garlic chilli powder, king chilli, green leaves along and different types of spices (according to one's preference).
The innards need to be fried for at least 40-50 minutes or more depending on the quantity of meat without adding any water since the lesser the gravy, the tastier it is. Also, it can also be cooked without frying and using the same ingredients or removing some of the ingredients depending on the person cooking it.
Thirdly, we have the most famous smoked beef which is processed by drying it on top of a fireplace. It takes a week or two for the meat to be properly smoked and after a few weeks or a month, it turns into smoked beef.
There are many ways of preparing smoked beef since different tribes have their own way of cooking. But, this particular cuisine is a delicacy from the Lotha Naga tribe and it is called "Benjung Han" which is cooked together with black sesame seed and other ingredients.
The black sesame seeds need to crush properly by grinding until it becomes oily. First, add water along with salt and tomatoes and each cut into four pieces. Once the water starts to boil, add the smoked beef after washing it thoroughly with warm clean water to remove unwanted particles.
Once the meat starts to cook for at least 40 minutes or more, add pickled bamboo shoot juice along with the sesame seeds. Add ginger, red chili powder and once the dish is cooked properly, serve it with warm rice and other vegetables.
Enjoy your smoked beef with crushed sesame seeds.