7,Night / 8,Days
|Nagaland boasts an alluring imagery for the adventurous food tourist. Meat, gently drying above wood-fired stoves, jars of funky fermented ingredients dressing kitchen cabinets; all this happening in the land of Bhut Jolokia– the spiciest chilly in the world. However, this only scratches the surface of the food culture of this region.
Sixteen tribes, fabled for their ferocious way of life, live among the lush hills of this state.The tribes bring about varied traditions that culminate in a lifestyle ensconced in food. They are celebrated hunter-gatherers , grow several varieties of grains on terraced slopes, and are known for jhum cultivation – a practice of shifting cultivation that has helped preserve their farmlands for centuries. This balance brings about the use of ingredients like wild insects and meats, foraged fruits, ferns and leafy greens, with farmed staples of dal, millet, maize, and rice .
Preservation and fermentation play a significant role in the way of life. Techniques of drying and aging meat are crucial for extending the life of prized meat that the Nagas take much trouble to rear. Fermented ingredients likeaxoné(fermented soybean), akhuni (fermented bamboo shoots) and anishi (powdered fermented yam leaves)introduce curious, savory elements to the food that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Join us for a rustic adventure to this last frontier of food in India, on the Nagaland Food Trail. At every stage, whether it is raising animals, farming, foraging, cooking, or eating, the people here will challenge, and possibly re-shape, your views on food. You will leave wanting to learn more about where food comes from and will appreciate how genuine care for the land results in the best ingredients.
|Day 1: Dimapur to Chizami Drive time: 5.5 hours
Pickup from Dimapur airport and drive to Chizami in Eastern Nagaland. O/n at guesthouse
|Day 2: Chizami
Chizami is set in the midst of verdant hills and terraced farm. This area is mainly inhabited by the Chakhesang tribe who are renowned for their terraced farming techniques.
We start the morning with a savory rice porridge served with foraged vegetables and sweet potatoes. After breakfast we set out for a half-day trek to the nearby hill slopes, passing through jhum fieldsand terraced farms. As we traverse through the breathtaking landscapes, we learn about the different farming practices of the Chakhesang tribe. Along the way, we will forage plants that we will then cook for lunch.
In the afternoon, we will have a jam making session where we will learn to make marmalade out of wild and cultivated citrus fruits found in Nagaland. In the evening, we visit a village seed bank and understand how the people of Chizami save seeds. We then walk through the village, interacting with friendly villagers and gaining a deeper glimpse into their daily lives. For dinner we visit a village house for a traditional meal with a family. O/n at a guesthouse
|Day 3: Chizami
In the morning we go for a trek to the community forest near the village. The villagers have conserved a certain portion of the forest for protecting the biodiversity of the area.
After lunch we visit the villages of Sumi and Thetsumi, which are culturally and linguistically different from Chizami. In the evening we visit another family for a traditional dinner, followed by a cultural night of singing, dancing and storytelling around a bonfire. O/n at a guesthouse
|Day 4: Chizami to Kohima Drive time: 3.5 hours
After breakfast, we drive to the capital city of Kohima. In the afternoon we visit the fresh market, probably one of the most interesting markets in the Northeast. Live silkworms, frogs, wasp larvae, snails are sold, along with other curious spices and ingredients. We pick up some of these ingredientsand cook for dinner. O/n at a Homestay in Kohima
|Day 5:Kohima to Khonoma Drive time: 1.5 hours
In the morning, we visit the state museum to acquaint ourselves with the culture of all sixteen Naga tribes. From here, we drive to the World War II cemetery, built to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the 1944 Battle of Kohima.
We proceed to Khonoma, one of the most picturesque villages in all of Nagaland. This village, which has a very rich history, is the stronghold of the Angami tribe. In the Angami dialect, the village is pronounced as ‘Khwunomia’, which is a conjunction of the words ‘Khwuno’ and ‘Mia’. Khwuno is the name of a small plant found in plentiful around the village while Mia translates to dwellers.
After lunch at our homestay, we go for a village walk and understand the complex history and culture of this village. For dinner, we will learn to cook a local dish at the homestay.
O/n at a Homestay in Khonoma.
|Day 6: Khonoma
In the morning, wewill go on a nature walk where we will forage medicinal plants. We will get to feed mithuns. Mithun, a semi-domesticated bovine, is the state animal of Nagaland. As we get closer to the buffer zone of Khonoma Nature Conservation & Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) we can expect to see some birds and wild life. We will also learnabout one of the most sustainable way of doing shifting cultivation using Alder trees.
With our lunch, we will learn to cook a traditional herbal medicinal chutney using the foraged plants.
After lunch, we will walk to the areas where wild crabapple trees are abundantly found. It will feel like we are walking through a wild crabapple orchard. We will enjoy locally prepared wine under the shade of the trees.
We head back and learn about how gooseberry wine as well as rice beer is made.We then participate in cooking dinner with our host using wild vegetables we have foraged all day.
O/n at homestay in Khonoma.
|Day 7: Khonoma to Dimapur Drive time: 1.5 hours
After breakfast, we drive to Dimapur. We visit the Dimapur market for last minute purchases. Dinner will be with Chef Joel Basumatari. We will get a semi hands-on cooking lesson and a three-course meal for dinner. Chef Basumatari returns from the Crowne Plaza Hotel in London. At his newly opened restaurant, Smokey Joe’s Restaurant & Grill, he works on a more modern approach to Naga cuisine.This will be a great way to wrap up the trip.
|Day 8: Dimapur
After breakfast, drop to Dimapur airport.