Ahom Diwas: Here's A Quick Peek At Meat-Eater's Food Guide
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The arrival of Sukaphaa in Assam in the year 1228, led to the establishment of the Ahom kingdom that lasted over six centuries. Sukaphaa was a prince from the kingdom of Mong Mao, present-day Yunnan. When the birth of his cousin removed him from the line of ascension to the throne, he sought a seat of power elsewhere. A 13-year journey brought him to eastern Assam.

Sukaphaa was able to unify the tribes in the area and is often referred to as the architect of Modern Assam. The name of the state — 'Asom' — is derived from 'Ahom'. The Ahom people have retained many of their indigenous customs, especially in their cuisine, which is quite diverse. Here's a look at a small section of the cuisine of the Ahom, specifically the rich and varied meat preparations.


1. Pork fat is fried with dry jute leaf and just three other ingredients — salt, ginger and garlic — for a dish called "kumbin".

2. There are several curry-like preparations with pork in Ahom cuisine. Pork is cooked along with with elephant apple (ou tenga); baked rice powder (with pig blood added as a thickener for the gravy); mustard leaf; and bamboo shoot.

3. Pork liver is also cooked with indigenous herbs, potato, spinach, onions, turmeric and salt for a dish called "chikchak", a common accompaniment for rice.


The Ahom recipe for mutton makes use of the elephant apple — ou tenga — or the Dillenia indica. A paste of garlic and mustard seed is fried in a wok, to which pieces of mutton are added along with turmeric and salt. Peeled and chopped ou tenga is added to the dish, and enough water poured over for a curry.


1. A whole crab is skewered on a bamboo stick and roasted over an open fire. The claws and legs are then separated, and the meat is removed from the shell. The crabmeat is sauteed with chilli, onion and salt/

2. For a curried preparation, once the crab meat is separated from the shell following the process mentioned above, it is set aside. Meanwhile, mustard oil is heated in a wok and then a paste of ginger, garlic, onion, cumin and coriander is fried in it. Turmeric, green chillies and salt are added, as well as enough water to make a gravy. The crab meat is added to this preparation.


Fish is rarely deep-fried in Ahom cuisine. Instead, it can be shallow fried, roasted, steamed (in a bamboo tube), baked (wrapped in banana leaves and placed in ashes), boiled and so on. Both fresh and dried fish are consumed by the people.

Bamboo shoot; Colocasia leaves; indigenous herbs like the nol tenga (a type of sour-leafed creeper), dhekia xaak (fiddlehead ferns), bhedailota (skunk vine), manimuni xaak (Asiatic pennywort); curryleaf paste; and elephant apple are all cooked with fish by the Ahom people using one of the methods mentioned above 


The bekula or maati khopu is cleaned thoroughly and its skin and head are removed. The remaining meat is set aside for use. A curry is prepared with a paste of green chillies, ginger, garlic and onion sauteed in hot mustard oil, turmeric, salt and water. The frog meat is then added to the pan and simmered in the curry.


Paro mangxo is prepared with the banana flower (koldir) in a savoury, warming dish. The outer petals of the banana flower are stripped away until the white core is reached. This part of the koldir is chopped into small pieces and mixed with a small amount of salt. Next, pigeon meat is cleaned, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces. It is fried in a paste of green chillies, ginger garlic and onion, along with salt, turmeric and black pepper powder in a wok. The chopped koldir is then added to the vessel, and water added to cover.


1. Duck is prepared with koldir in the same way as the paro mangxo, with the replacement of one type of poultry meat for another. The spice paste for the duck curry also includes cumin and coriander. 

The koldir can also be replaced with kumura — winter melon — for a similarly scrumptious dish.

2. Duck liver is chopped, then fried with salt, turmeric, pepper and a little bit of onion, until tender.


1. Chicken is fried in a paste of raw turmeric, onion, ginger and garlic. Then, chopped pasala — the tender part of a banana plant's stem, or banana shoot — is added to the simmering chicken.

2. A paste of raw turmeric and ginger is fried in mustard oil, to which chicken is added along with several varieties of indigenous wild herbs. Water is added to the pot and the chicken and herbs are left to simmer until tender and flavourful. Finally, rice powder is added to the pot to thicken the dish, stirring carefully to prevent lumps. 

3. Chicken pieces are coated in a simple marinade of salt, turmeric and garlic paste, and left to rest. The marinated chicken is then skewered on a bamboo stick and placed near an open fire/hearth, until cooked.


"Tangy, white and soft" ants' eggs are a delicacy in Ahom culture. To prepare the dish, ants' nests are first foraged from the trees (usually, mango and jackfruit) and then cut down. The nest is submerged in a container of water — the ants float to the top while the eggs sink. The separated eggs are then collected and cooked along with poultry eggs, or even by themselves. (Look up a recipe for "amroli tup" — a relish made with fried ants' eggs — here.)


The silkworm whose cocoon produces the famed muga and eri silk of Assam supplements the Ahom diet as well. While the worm is still in its chrysalis — "leta" —stage, the cocoon is boiled, and separated. The leta is then fried in oil — whole, or halved — for a nutritious snack. 


The insect locally known as lingkori is possibly the Lethocerus indicus (or giant water bug) that is consumed by many tribal communities in Southeast Asia. The lingkori that comes up along with the fishing catch is separated and cleaned. The wings and legs are removed. The bug is then fried to a crisp in oil along with some salt and the minimal use of a spice like turmeric.