Nagaland is the northeastern state of India, bordering Assam to the west and north, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam in the north, Burma (Myanmar) to the east and Manipur to the south. Kohima is the capital city of the state. Agriculture is the main occupation and, rice, corn, millets, pulses and tobacco are the main crops. There are sixteen main tribes in Nagaland and, Konyaks, Angamis, Aos, Lothas, and Sumis are the largest Naga tribes. Each of the tribe has its own unique designs and colors, producing shawls, shoulder bags, decorative spears, table mats, wood carvings, and bamboo works. Folk songs and dances are part of the traditional Naga culture.
Meats and fish are part of Naga Cuisine which is smoked, dried or fermented. Each tribe has their own way of cooking. A typical Naga meal consists of a meat dish, one or two boiled vegetable dishes and chutney. Organic edible leaves are used extensively in the cooking. The garlic and ginger leaves are also used in cooking with meat. From what I have read about the cuisine, galangal is used a lot instead of ginger, which belongs to ginger family and looks like ginger. Galangal isone of the key ingredients in Thai food. (Source about the state & cuisine is wiki).
Coming to today’s recipe, it is a liver galangal leaves chutney and fish chutney. I did not have galangal leaves so I substituted it with Chinese leek leaves. I substituted canned anchovies and sardines for dried fish. Both anchovies and sardines are very smelly fish. Last time I used anchovies for Meghalaya, it did not smell that bad but I remembered and wished I had followed the tips given for cooking the fish; which are open the windows, switch on the kitchen exhaust and make sure the neighbors are out. It did not smell that bad while I was cooking. I had the exhaust on and poor kitchen is the only room in the apartment that doesn’t have a window. I don’t know about the neighbors but husband was not happy with the smell the moment he stepped into the apartment. When I told him the menu, he was even more disappointed that I mixed liver and fish. He normally doesn’t like mixing up different vegetables or meats in a dish. For him, dal has to be plain dal and a vegetable has been cooked by itself, no mixing up vegetables either. He doesn’t like spinach dal, bottle gourd dal or tomato dal that are so common in Andhra cuisine. Similarly he doesn’t like mixing different types of vegetables to make a curry. I should have known better that he might not like liver chutney. But most of the northeastern recipes have dried fish or fermented fish as one of the ingredients and since he loves liver curry, I thought he might like it. Also, this recipe has lots of green chilies and I thought the fish part might not bother him. But I was dead wrong! He did not touch it. He was pretty upset and went on to say that since he was eating whatever I cooked, I was experimenting way too much on him and that he doesn’t like the fact that I am making him the guinea pig for all my cooking experiments! I eat liver but I am not a big fan of it. I cook liver curryonly for him. So, I tasted it and it was ok. When it comes to red meats, we are so used to frying it in oil until it turns dark in color and this was quite different to what we are usually used to.
For the fish chutney I used canned sardines in olive oil. It is similar to tungtap that we liked a lot but here I used green chilies instead of chili powder. I chose the wrong fish though, and anchovies would have been a better choice for this chutney. Coming to the fish smell, it did not smell that much when I was cooking but later, apartment was all smelly. It was night and in middle of winter. And we all know how bitter this winter was! I could not even open the windows for too long to get some fresh air. The first thing I did next morning was open all the windows to get plenty of fresh air and turn on all the heaters to high to keep the apartment a bit warmer.
Source: Pan Cuisine
- 150 grams Precooked Beef Liver (I used fresh goat liver)
- 10 – 12 Green Chilies (I used the small chilies we get at the Indian store and the Thai chilies will work too. In fact the ones from the Indian store look like Thai chilies)
- 4-5 medium sized Ngari (ferment dried fish. I used 2oz canned anchovies in oil)
- 5-6 Garlic Pods (Garlic cloves we get in the US are big and I used 3-4 big cloves)
- Salt to taste (I did not use any salt as the anchovies were salted)
- 2-3 Stalks of Galangal Leaves (I used 1 stalk of long leaf of Chinese Leek)
- Onion for garnish
- Since I used raw, unfrozen liver, I pressure cooked it. Cut the liver into small pieces, wash and cook with some water. Bring it to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Foam will form on the top. Turn of the stove. Discard the water and wash the liver pieces. I read somewhere that the froth that forms on the top are the impurities and need to be discarded.
- Put the liver pieces back in the pressure cooker, fill water until the pieces are covered, add ½ tsp. of salt and pressure cook for 5 whistles are until liver pieces are tender.
- Turn of the heat and wait for the pressure to dissipate. Open the cooker, discard the excess water and keep the liver pieces aside.
- Open the can of anchovies, squeeze as much oil as possible and sauté/fry the fish in a pan. Fish needs to be roasted. Since I used canned fish, anchovies crumbled and become a paste. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Since the fish is preserved in oil, be careful when frying the fish. Also be prepared for the smell! Anchovies are very smell. Unlike my kitchen, if you do have a window near the kitchen, open it and also turn on the exhaust. If using dry fish, roast it directly under the flame.
- Roast green chilies under direct flame using a pair of thongs. But this is a little time consume. So I dry roasted the chilies in a cast iron pan. When the chilies are charred, remove from pan and let cool. Peel off the skin.
- Coarsely grind green chilies, garlic and fish.
- Add this to liver pieces and mix it well. Add slat if needed.
- Chop the leeks or galangal leaves and add it to the chutney. Garnish with onions.
- Serve with rice.
Dry Fish Chutney
Source: Pan Cuisine
Serves: 1 – 2 depending on how much is consumed
- 4 -5 Fermented Fish (I used canned sardines in oil but would recommend canned anchovies, if using canned fish.)
- 5 – 6 Garlic Cloves (I used 3-4 garlic cloves as the cloves in the US are quite big)
- 10 – 12 Green/ Dried Red Chili (I used 12 green chilies)
- Salt (adjust to taste)
- Coriander/Spring onion for garnish (I used spring onions)
- Few drops of Lime Juice (this is my addition)
- Roast the fermented fish over the flame for 2-3 minutes on both sides using thongs or with any with perforated metal surface and keep aside. Since I used canned fish, I pan roasted it in a cast iron pan. In the pan it will take 5 -8 minutes. If using anchovies, it might take about 5 minutes and I recommend canned anchovies.
- If using green chilies, roast it in the same process as above and peel off the skin, or if using dried red chilies, heat water in the microwave and soak the required amount of chilies covered for 4-5 minutes or until soft.
- In a motor pestle or in a food processor, grind the roasted fish, chilies and garlic until everything mixes.
- Sprinkle lime juice, garnish with spring onions and onions. Serve it with rice.