Lemei Chingkai Konyak
Mon Town, Nagaland
In addition to discovering new species of plants, vegetables, fruits, animals, birds and insects within rich Naga land, today a new kind of cucumber species is brought to light which is believed to exist only in Nagaland in the land of Konyak tribe. Cucumber is one of the most awaited fruit for Konyak people every year. It is called “MAIKOH” which literally means “give(Koh) to beloved(mai)”. Interestingly, a story is attached to the origin of this particular name. The story says that ‘in a distant past a group of young man from Murung (man’s dormitory) went to the jungle and discovered the fruit. They tasted it and found out that it was juicy and harmless so, they decided to take it back to their lovers. This gave birth to the name ‘Maikoh’ ever after.
Cucumber is a short duration cucurbits that matures within the month of 3-4 months. It is grown organically in the land of Konyak with high production. Konyak people plant cucumber all throughout the year by seed to seed method depending upon the soil type. The best time of planting is considered to be in the month of January- February and harvest in the month of May to August every year. Different varieties of cucumber are grown in different villages depending on the climatic condition, soil type and elevation. Mon area is best known for cucumber production every year.
So far two types of cucumber have been found in the land. They are ‘Hollow and Closed’ type cucumbers. It can be categorised by its features cited below.
1. Closed Cucumbers
a. Koh-angya (queen of cucumber):
It is Juicy, soft, sweet and green in colour both externally and internally. During its growth and prime time to consume, the ring round the seeds is deep green in colour. When it gets ripen the green ring becomes yellowish in colour. Despite changes in sizes and colours the taste remain the same until decay though little changes will occur in the percentage of water contain. Most Konyak people call it queen of cucumber. This type of cucumber is usually found in moderate and cold climatic areas. Villages like Hongphoi, Tuimei, Mon, Phoktong, Shenghah Lampong and Wangla are known for producing ‘Koh-angya’ cucumber. The size varies from 5-7 cm in circumference, length:1 feet or longer.
b. Koh-nyan (creamy -yellow cucumber):
Koh-nyan is juicy, mildly hard, sweet and light green in colour internally and externally. During its ripening stage it changes colour to creamy yellow. Though fully ripen, taste doesn’t change but, the fruit gets harden with less juice. Villages like Shangnyu, Nyasa and Zangkham are rich producers of such cucumbers. Approximate size of these cucumbers is circumference: 20cm, length: 1 foot or longer.
c. Koh-sah (Small-cucumber):
Koh-sah is smaller in size (approx. circumference: 4-5cm, length: 8-9 inches). In its young stage it is green in colour internally and externally and has a sticky fluid. It is also juicy, soft and sweet during consumption period. During it ripening stage the outer becomes off-white in colour and also the fruit turns little hard with less juice. Koh-sah is found in villages like Tuimei, Hongphoi and Phoktong.
d. Koh-khe (reddish- brown cucumber):
It is green in colour internally and externally. It is very juicy and sweet but mildly hard. When it is fully ripen the outer cover turns to complete deep yellow in colour and its seeds arena becomes orange in colour with white seeds within. In its full grown stage it gives a very sour taste. This cucumber can be preserved without preservation chemicals for more than a month without much change in size and water contain for off seasons. Villages like Longwa, Tizit area, Shangnyu, Yuching are rich producers of this type. Its circumference is approx. 25cm and length is 1 feet or longer.
2. Koh-kha (Hollow-cucumber):
Koh-kha is mildly hard with small star shaped hole inside. It tastes sweet and Juicy. In its growing stage its is complete green in colour. When it gets ripen the colour turns to yellow externally and internally with reddish brown colour at the base and taste little sour. Its circumference 22-23 cm and length is approx. 1 feet and above. Villages like Shangnyu, Tang and Longwa produce this type of cucumber.
Konyak Naga Usages of Cucumber: There can be umpteen usages of Konyak Naga cucumbers but below are some few usages prevalent to Konyak Naga.
• Konyak people use cucumber for medicinal purpose especially to control gastritis.
• It has an excellent cooling effect.
• They consider it as a fruit.
• They make salad out of it.
• Koh-khe (reddish- brown Cucumber) is used as a vegetable too.
Konyak Naga cucumber is one kind of fruit that differs in taste, shapes and sizes from those available in other parts of India and probably in the world. It is an amazing fruit available in Nagaland that needs further attention for the benefits of all. This peculiar fruit will be available on the following Wednesday Bazar Super Market, dated 28th June 2017. Dimapur Nagaland.