Jolpan: Assam’s Traditional Breakfast Is A Nutritious Affair
Image Credit: Sticky rice, curd and jaggery.

Given the geographical location as well as topography of one of the seven sisters of North-East, the cuisine of Assam is a heady culmination of flavours from the plains as well as the hills. While they have unique cooking techniques and bamboo shoots are widely used for cooking, the food includes several fresh produce as well as fermented foods. For the locals, the day usually starts with jolpan. It refers to snacks consumed for breakfast or in between meals. 

Traditionally, the breakfast for Assamese people comprises a less-cooked meal, unlike most morning meals across India. The most commonly found components in the first meal of the day include rice and milk.

One of the highlights of this traditional breakfast is the sticky rice or bora saul. This local variety of rice grain is easily available in Assam. The rice is used in several ways. While some people make rice cakes from it by soaking and grinding it, there are others who like to boil and pair it with curd and jaggery. The popular and most basic preparation involves rice varieties like hurum, a kind of puffed rice, seera, a type of flattened rice and akhoi, another type of puffed rice. 


These are combined together with something moist like cream or curd and can be sweetened with jaggery. Since the region is rich in rice varieties and cultivation, it comes as no surprise that the grain is an important part of Assamese cuisine. Apart from this, there are pithas which are also very popular jolpan items. For the unversed, a pitha comes in a variety of shapes and forms. From dumplings to fritters and pancakes, you’ll find fried, steamed and roasted versions of the same stuffed pitha.

As for the filling, it’s usually grated coconut or roasted sesame seeds mixed with sugar or jaggery. Not just breakfast, these traditional Assamese food items are a huge part of bihu celebrations and other events. However, the classic breakfast pitha would be a pani pitha that is made using rice flour and water. The techniques, texture, shape and form may vary from community to community present within Assam, but pitha continues to cut across cultures to be steamed for morning meals.

Moreover, there are lusis or pooris, accompanied by a mildly spicy potato curry. Not just that, there is also a traditional tea that cannot be missed out from the jolpan. Referred to as laal sah, the specialty of the tea lies in the fact that it is made without milk. Jolpan is a wholesome and nutritious affair, consisting of everything from beverages to light, nutritious snacks and filling foods.