Delicious Delights from Assam You Should Try Atleast Once

The cuisine of Assam is a beautiful confluence of cooking habits of hilly & plain regions with rice as the main ingredient. The hilly regions favour fermentation and drying as forms of food preservation while the plains provide a variety of fresh vegetables and fish from Brahmaputra.

The cuisine is characterized by very little use of spices, a bit of cooking over fire and strong flavors mainly due to the use of endemic exotic fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely used, and birds like duck, squab etc. are very popular & are often paired with a main vegetable or ingredient.

A traditional Assamese meal begins with a khar- a class of dishes named after the main ingredient, and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. These two dishes characterize a traditional meal in Assam. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils made by an indigenous community called Mariya. Tamul (betel nut, generally raw) and paan generally concludes the meal.

Wicked Spoon Confessions along with Chef Anirban Dasgupta brings you some delicious culinary delights from Assam you should try at least once. Text & images courtesy: Chef Anirban Dasgupta.


1. Assamese Thali:

This is the most significant of them all, served in a bell metal plate and several small bowls in it . A traditional Assamese thali shall consist of a khar (an alkali made ideally with raw papaya), bilahi chutney ( tomato chutney), labra (a melange of vegetable curry), joha rice (an aromatic rice found in this part of the country, a short grain rice very similar to Bengal's gobindobhog), a xaak bhaji (an assortment of greens stir fried with little spices and ginger). Additionally the thali will also be served couple of non vegetarian dish like masor tenga and tilor mankho.



2. Assamese Jolpan:

Assam is a rice eating state and the beauty is several rice preparations that you can see in its breakfast thali. Puffed rice, black rice, akhoi, beaten rice comes together with yogurt and gur to make up a wonderful and sumptuous breakfast. These are probably some of the earliest form of what we called "Cereals". Assamese people have been eating them mainly as breakfast for many centuries.




3. Masor Tenga:

The masor tenga is a light and sour fish dish, another signature class of preparations. The souring ingredient could be mangosteen, lemon, etc., but the most popular is that made with tomatoes. Fish dishes made with fermented bamboo shoot (Khorisa) are generally sour, but they are not called tenga. Fish is fried in mustard oil or curried with bottle gourd or spinach.



4. Gahori Lagot Baansh Tenga:

Another all time favourite is pork with bamboo shoot in very light broth with a touch of bhoot jolakia. Bamboo shoot is available in abundance and therefore the prominence of bamboo in food and crafts such as weaving.



5. Goroi Maas Pitika:

Side dishes called pitika (mash) is a signature characteristic of this cuisine. The most popular is aloo pitika (mashed potatoes). For each one of the them the process is similar and it can be made with tomato or in this case with a local small fish called goroi maas and garnished with raw onions, mustard oil, green chillies and sometimes boiled eggs.



6. Haan Aru Koldil:

Duck strictly is a festival meat and also a winter favourite. This preparation is made with banana flower and light spices.



7. Kola Saul Payox:

Black rice is considered an indigenous rice which is exclusive to this region in India, available both in Manipur and Assam.The kheer (payox) made out of this black rice is regarded as a prized dessert.



8. Manimuni Misa Maas:

Manimuni (local pennywort) in a city abundant with greens (in fact during winters there are no less than 101 varieties) along with local herbs which are very unique to this part of the country. This preparation is an amalgamation of manimuni and prawns in a light curry (jhol). Assamese curries are very less in spices and cooked with minimal mustard oil making it a great healthy cuisine.



9. Pork Khorika:

Khorikas and Puras are the most well known barbecues from the city, marinated with bare minimum spices on charcoal. The most popular is pork and fish.



10. Sidhho Kukura Mankho:

This is a boro delicacy made with zero oil, intense in flavour with lot of vegetables and local chicken.

Comments

  1. Excellent write up . Want to add few words ,with due permission and respect , duck meat with Joha kumura (ash gourd) is much common delicacy ,so is koldil with paro mangsho(pigeon) ,though there are no hard and fast rules . Loved your passion and dedication to Assamese cuisine .You will be fondly remembered n respected for giving Assamese cuisine a global touch ☺☺

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    1. Hi Geeta, like i always say and would advise that in food there is no this works or that untill you have tasted the present one...afterall there is always a first time.I have a comment too post my stay at Assam , the city is way too steeped into traditions and not very eager to change ( trust me this is not based out of above but based out of my interactions in 1.5 years in Assam). There is a pan India famous singer from Assam once told me Masor Tenga cannot be made with Kolkata Bekti( which is what we do at Taj), my revert to that is then you cannot sing a Kishore Kumar song and have a version of your own as well then, music and food is very subjective- no offence but for a pan India presence Assam has to look beyond its boundaries- My apologies if i am hurting someone

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  2. Amazingly written. It feels so good to see our cuisine, which is among lesser known branches of Indian cuisine, appreciated.

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  3. This is a good read i have done today so far, I am delighted to came across it. I'll be back again to check out other posts as well. Healthy Diet Tips

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