When Zeino first shared this recipe with me, I asked, "That's it? Just pork, chillies, salt and water?"—yup, that's it. "These are some of the simple ways of Tangkhul cooking," she told me. This dish may be simple, but you won't be able to stop eating it. (On my first test, I stood shoveling cubes of pork straight from the pot to my mouth tbh.) Some kind of beautiful alchemy happens when these four ingredients simmer together for a few hours. The pork belly giving way to tender, succulence and the rendered fat reducing and mingling with the chillies to create a luscious, smoky, spicy sauce that is 1000% lip-smackingly delicious.
While bamboo shoots are more traditionally added to this dish in Nagaland—just north of Manipur than they are in the hills of Ukhrul, you can add them if you want to extend the dish a little (just add them in the last 25–40 minutes of cooking). Other welcome additions are cooked beans and potatoes. Serve with plenty of basmati rice and tomato Sivathei chilli chutney.