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Of Tastes and Ties

I wouldn’t call myself a foodie because I am very picky about the stuff I put in my mouth and am typically Naga in taste. I am totally partial to Naga food though I enjoy Continental, Mughlai, Chinese and Thai dishes once in a while. I prefer to eat at home than outside. Though I love to try out new flavors sometimes, I end up sticking to the tastes I find closer home.

Call me a busy homebody; I love doing household chores and helping out in the kitchen. My mother says she misses me most when I am away because then her assistant (meh) is gone. I love to dress up and sit at home and entertain guests or pose for the lens. I have spent most of my life at home with my parents except for the last few years when I lived with my elder brother and sisters in Delhi to pursue my graduation at Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College and all this time, I have been lucky to be taken care of and allowed to do whatever makes me happy.

Moi digging into a plate of rice and snails cooked Naga style.

Mom is a great cook and most of my siblings can cook pretty well. When they are cooking, I get to help cut veggies and add ingredients; and enjoy tasting the food while it’s still cooking hot in the pot. So I am just your average girl next door.  Let me start with telling you why I decided to go with the name ‘Galho’ for my new blog. ‘Galho’ is a humble but popular Naga dish. It is like ‘Khichri’ except for the ingredients which includes meat – pork, chicken, beef, innards/entrails/liver cooked with a generous amount of leafy vegetables and rice, seasoned with ginger, local garlic, fermented soya bean (optional), fermented bamboo shoot (optional), salt and chilly; or it could be just a variety of greens cooked with red/black or white rice and served with hot Naga Chilly chutney. I love Galho J and my blog will also be much like ‘Galho’, a melting pot of all things wonderfully Northeastern but contemporary and positively wholesome.

Festive Naga food at a Buffet (Photo by Chizokho Vero)

There are so many varieties of Galho. You name it, you get it. In Delhi, we even made palak galho with chicken and it was yummy. My cousin makes cabbage galho and it is delicious too.  Galho is also like North Eastern culture. We are all simple people but at the same time delightfully colourful and authentic. Apart from galho, I love the fish curry mom makes at home. Fish pieces marinated with crushed green chilli peppers, schezuan peppers, salt, a hint of haldi, ginger, garlic and fried in oil with a little gravy. Yummy! I also have a soft corner for grubs, especially kingbee larvae which is quite a delicacy out here but no woodworms for me.  I love snails too. Also stir fried shrimps or  prawns with hot Naga King chilly. My sisters Azi and Mercy can whip up the hottest prawn curries (hot on both spiciness and tastiness). Not forgetting homemade pork momos and noodles. The list does not end here.

Frogs and grubs for sale at Kohima Super Market

In our home, like most Naga families, our diet comprises of a variety of meats and greens. We make sure to eat dinner together and such times are reserved for important family discussions and planning for the next day or week. Even during the Delhi years, dinner was always a family affair whether we were eating out or at home. My sisters enjoyed entertaining friends and guests at home so we had lots of fun filled dinners with close friends and relatives. Birthdays and special occasions would find us feeding friends of friends and strangers too but they all left with memorable tastes of delicious Naga food.

A dinner spread at our Delhi home

Though not a foodie, I love discussions on food and I like to shock curious people (who are capable of being shocked) with details of Naga cuisine and the exotic ingredients that are involved. It is not a crime to enjoy dog meat or snack on grasshoppers. I can think of many worse things than enjoying a bowl of crisp fried spiders or locusts. It is surprisingly interesting how people can connect over food, despite big differences in individual taste and diet. I believe that, for those of us from the North East, we will never run out of topics or common ground at parties and gatherings with the rest of the world for we have so much to share and talk about when it comes to food or culture. Next time you are with a bunch of new acquaintances and locked in awkward silence, start talking food and you will either make many new friends or at the least start an interesting conversation.

 

Content  & Photography by Kuvelü Tetseo © 2012 except those indicated otherwise. The profile photo by John Monsang at Shutter Philia.

 

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