Famous Street Food Of Nagaland [Cuisines Of Nagaland]

. 9 min read
Famous Street Food Of Nagaland [Cuisines Of Nagaland]

The beauty of India lies in its diversity. Home to numerous cultures and religions, dozens of languages, fascinating traditions, and a diverse landscape – India is truly the meeting point of cultures. With so much diversity, it’s no wonder that our motherland is home to numerous cuisines.

If you’re looking to go on a culinary adventure, you don’t have to leave the borders of our nation. Each part of the country is home to dozens of lip-smacking dishes. Dosas from the south, vada pav in Mumbai, rasgullas in Kolkata, Hyderabadi biryani, Indian cuisine is hugely popular globally and has millions of fans in the country.

While Indian cuisine has made a splash globally, Northeast India's cuisines remain unexplored. Due to vibrant traditions, indigenous culture, colourful festivals, and warm people, Northeast India remains a hidden tourist gem even today.

A Culinary Adventure Awaits at Nagaland

One of the least-known Indian states, Nagaland offers a culinary experience like none other. Remote, mystical and with a rich and vibrant history, Nagaland is home to 16 tribes, a whopping 36 different languages and myriad dialects within its borders. What makes Naga cuisine so exotic and unique is that all of these 16 tribes use their indigenous herbs, ingredients and spices.

Naga cuisine uses a lot of fresh meat (mostly pork), fish, fresh vegetables and fermented products. Sharing boundaries with Myanmar, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, Naga cuisine takes inspiration from Chinese, Burmese, Thai, and North-east India. Home of the Raja Mircha (bhut jolokia – one of the hottest chillies on the planet), Naga cuisine is deliciously spicy. Despite being spicy, Naga dishes are light on the stomach due to the fresh ingredients and simplicity of preparation.

Street Food of Nagaland

Just like its people, Naga cuisine is simple, colourful and flavourful. Take a walk in the bazaars of Kohima; you are sure to come across these scrumptious street-foods. Here are some of the best Nagaland delicacies that you should try at least once.

1. Smoked Pork

Nagaland is the largest consumer of pork in the country. Crispy on the outside and succulent and juicy on the inside, smoked pork is a delicacy that you cannot miss on the streets of Nagaland. It’s made by cooking small pieces of pork with a blend of dry spices.

2. Bamboo Steamed Fish

Nagaland's signature delicacy is a simple yet famous dish that is a staple at Naga homes. The star of the dish here is the bamboo. Hence the fish is minimally spiced. The first few bites may feel bland, but the bamboo's subtle flavour kicks in for a flavourful explosion in your mouth.

3. Axone

Popularised by the Netflix film, Axone is slowly inching its way into the mainstream dishes. Also known as Akhuni, it's a pungent, aromatic chutney prepared by the Sumi tribe of Nagaland. It's made by boiling and fermenting soybeans (that give the strong aroma) which are then ground into a chutney.

4. Pork Curry

Naga cuisine is synonymous with its lavish use of pork. The Naga pork curry is totally different from any other meat-based curries served in the rest of India. It's cooked with unusual ingredients like fermented soybean and fermented bamboo shoots. A flavoursome delicacy, it's scrumptious and filling when served with steamed rice and fish paste.

5. Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Naga cuisine is not all spicy – it has some of the best guilt-free desserts as well. Made from the signature black rice of Nagaland, the rice pudding is flavoured with pistachios and a hint of saffron. The best part – this pudding is diet-friendly and can even be eaten by diabetics.

6. Amarusu

Prepared with a mixture of chicken, ground rice and bamboo shoots, it’s the signature dish of the Ao tribe. It’s the definition of comfort food in Naga cuisine. A small bowl is enough to keep your tummy full for hours.

7. Raja Mircha Pickle

Naga cuisine is incomplete without this spicy pickle. Made from Bhut Jolokia, the super-hot chilli pepper cultivated in Nagaland, this pickle is an amalgamation of flavours. Spicy, smoky with a hint of sweet undertones, this pickle goes well with rice, roti and dosas.

Despite being lip-smacking and nourishing, Nagaland cuisine is not as famous as Burmese, Thai, Chinese and other popular cuisines. The reason behind it is that Nagaland remains a remote and unexplored corner of the country. While it may not be possible for everyone to take a quick trip to Nagaland, we can still enjoy the flavours of this delicious cuisine elsewhere in India, thanks to street food carts, kiosks and restaurants, specialising in Naga cuisine.

How to Set Up a Profitable Naga Street Food Cart Anywhere in India?

The rise of the “foodie” culture and trending Insta hashtags have driven the public to experience new cuisines and new flavours. From bustling metros to small towns, people are eager to try new styles of dining. The best part – food carts, kiosks and restaurants are not just pulling in street food fans but are bringing in big bucks too.

The Indian food and grocery industry is the world’s sixth-largest and contributes 9 – 10% of the GDP. The biggest USP – it’s a fast-growing industry.  You can capitalise on this trend and your love for entrepreneurship and Nagaland cuisine by setting up a Nagaland-based food business in India.

Here are a few steps to start a Nagaland-based eatery in the rest of India:

  • Start by doing in-depth market research

Identify whether you've got the potential for Nagaland cuisine, are your target audience willing to experiment with different cuisines, etc. While you may think that you know the answers, skipping market research is a big NO.

In-depth market research helps you identify your target audience, expectations, and spending potential in your area. The data you collect in these initial stages play a crucial role in determining your business model and helps you get started on the right track, right from step 1.

  • Determine your business model

The next step is to choose your business model and develop your business plan. When it comes to eateries, you have multiple options - a roadside food kiosk, a fine dining restaurant, a small fast-food service counter at a mall etc. You need to build a business model that matches your market potential.

For example, if your proposed location is near a college, then a fast-food style eatery works better than an expensive fine-dining restaurant. Analyse all the factors and develop your business plan and model.

  • Estimate costs

This is the most crucial step and often challenging one. Every business needs the right funding to get started. Start by estimating the costs for your Nagaland-cuisine eatery. If required, you can always get professional business planners’ help to help you work out the capital needed.

The next step is to work on sourcing the required funding. Thanks to the availability of digital lenders and online lending platforms, it’s easier to get business loans. Having a solid business plan and model also works in your favour and helps you negotiate better with the creditor in availing the required capital.

  • Procure the Required Licenses and Sort Other Legal Requirements

When starting a food-based business, you have to ensure safety standards. This involves getting several licenses and clearances from the authorities. Make sure that you get it sorted correctly so that there are no problems later on.

One major challenge of setting up a Nagaland-cuisine based eatery is sourcing authentic ingredients from Nagaland. It may be problematic sourcing the ingredients, so make sure to connect with suitable suppliers well ahead and work out the supply logistics.

  • Decide your Menu, Concept, and Set-up Shop

Now, you come to the fun and exciting part. It’s time to decide the menu, sketch out your restaurant’s concept, finalise the small details and hire your team. Don’t forget to establish a solid online presence - on social media and your website - to spread the word around and shine the digital spotlight on your business.

 famous dish of Nagaland served in a bowl with flowers

Wrapping Up

Setting up a food-based business is an excellent opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. Compared with other business ventures, street food carts, kiosks, trucks, or mall outlets have low overhead costs and easy setup. Running an eatery gives you the freedom to be your own boss.

A huge advantage in setting up a Nagaland cuisine based eatery is you don’t have to deal with stiff competition. Naga cuisine is not yet widespread in mainland India, and you’re likely to be the first or one among the few Naga-based eateries in your town or city. As a result, your eatery can stand out and easily pull in the crowds.

We hope our article turned out to be useful for you. For more such informative content, you can visit these linked articles as well:
Famous Street Food of Manipur Famous Street Food of Sikkim Famous Street Food of Lakshadweep
Famous Street Food of Jammu & Kashmir Famous Street Food of Bihar Famous Street Food of Haryana

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FAQs on street food of Nagaland

Q. What type of restaurant is suitable to serve Nagaland cuisine?

Ans. Nagaland cuisine is simple to prepare and doesn't need elaborate preparations. The setup of your eatery need not be limited to a full-fledged table service dining restaurant. You can also explore other food business models like:

  • Quick service restaurants
  • Food kiosks at malls
  • Street food carts
  • Food truck
  • Bakery/café
  • Online delivery from a centralised kitchen
  • Or even a home-based setup like selling Naga pickles, chutneys, condiments, etc.

Q. Should I get any license to set up a Naga cuisine eatery?

Ans. All food businesses in India are required to obtain an FSSAI license. The FSSAI is the organisation responsible for ensuring the safety and standards quality of eatables and is governed by the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006. FSSAI licenses are classified into three types:

  • Central FSSAI License – Offered to importers, head-offices and other food businesses with operations in multiple states.
  • State FSSAI License – It applies to food businesses with a turnover of more than Rs. 12 lakhs.
  • Registration – Registration Form A is sufficient for small food businesses with annual turnovers of less than Rs. 12 lakhs.

Besides the food license, you also have to get other permits like fire department NOC, local municipality license, liquor license (if you plan to sell liquor) and GST registration.

Q. How much does it cost to start a Nagaland-cuisine food truck?

Ans. The average cost of starting a food truck ranges between Rs. 10 to 20 lakhs depending on the location, type of vehicle, menu inventory and other miscellaneous expenses. The cost of customising an old vehicle into a food truck ranges from Rs. 2 to 5 lakhs.

Q. Is it profitable to start a food eatery in India?

Ans. The food business is one of the most promising and upcoming profitable business ventures in the country. With that said, your profits depend on your business model, plan and other numerous factors. The average profit margin for a food business in India ranges from 25 to 40%. If you have a solid business model backed by sound marketing, you can turn your business venture into a profitable one.