Today’s chutney recipe is a special one. It is made from one of the most popular Naga spices – the ‘axone’ (pronounced aakhuni) which is basically fermented soyabean paste. Why is it so unique you ask? It has a very strong, pungent smell that can fill the entire room – house rather, with its unique aroma. Perhaps, this may be one of the reasons why youngsters from Nagaland always carry a packet of axone with them wherever they go – to try and recreate their very own ‘Naga kitchen’ – home away from home.
Although first-timers be warned, the smell can be pretty intense when you are tasting it for the first time. But once you get used to the taste, it’s pretty addictive. So there – another warning. Nagas use the axone in a variety of dishes ranging from chutney and pickles, to various local dishes like smoked pork with axone, nula (snails) with akhuni and a host of stew dishes. To get you started, let us learn how to make the most popular Naga chutney. Let’s get started!
Fresh axone – prepared by wrapping boiled soyabeans (after draining out the excess water) inside banana leaves and kept over the fireplace and left to ferment for 3-7 days.
Ingredients to Make ‘Axone’ Chutney
- 5-6 fresh green chilies
- 1 big tomato
- 1″ fresh ginger
- A tablespoon of fresh axone paste
- Salt to taste
Preparing the chutney:
- Chilies: Roast them over the fireplace or stove. Do not forget to punch holes before roasting them
- Tomatoes: Roast the tomato by the fireplace or simply roast them on a flat tawa or grill over the stove. Keep turning to make sure it is cooked well from the inside as well. Once done, peel the tomato and keep it aside.
- Cut the ginger into flat slices so that it can be mashed easily
- Now, use a mortar and pestle to mash all the ingredients to a fine paste. (Here, we have used an aluminum Naga chutney bowl).
- Start with the chili and salt. Mash the chili to a fine paste. Then add the roasted and peeled tomatoes. Now, add the ginger and mash it. Add the axone paste at the end and mash & blend it well with the rest of the ingredients; make sure they are all mixed evenly with each other.