Assamese cuisine is a unique and diverse blend of flavours and ingredients. From its signature dishes like Masor Tenga and pork with bamboo shoots to its vegetarian delights like Aloo Pitika, Assamese cuisine offers a range of culinary experiences. Here are the top ten dishes you must try:
Assam, located in the northeastern part of India, is a land of unique biodiversity and diverse culture. The state is known for its lush green landscapes, tea gardens, and the mighty Brahmaputra River. One of the most notable aspects of Assamese culture is its cuisine, which is characterised by its simplicity, use of fresh ingredients, and distinct flavours. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Assamese cuisine.
Rice is the staple food of Assam, and it is served with almost every meal. In fact, the Assamese have a saying that goes, "Without rice, there is no meal." Rice is usually boiled and served with a variety of accompaniments, such as fish curry, dal (lentils), vegetable curries, and chutneys. Assamese cuisine is also known for its use of bamboo and banana leaves, which are used as cooking vessels or as plates. This not only adds to the flavour but also makes the dishes more eco-friendly.
Video Credit: Cook With Assamese
Here are some top dishes to try from the Assamese kitchen:
Khar is a traditional Assamese dish that is known for its unique taste and health benefits. It is made by filtering water through the ashes of burned banana stems or other plant parts, which creates an alkaline solution. This solution is then added to boiled vegetables and lentils, along with mustard oil, garlic, and spices. The dish is commonly eaten with rice and is said to aid digestion and detoxify the body. Khar is a popular dish in Assam and is enjoyed for its distinctive flavour and cultural significance.
Duck curry is a popular dish in the state of Assam. The curry is made by slow-cooking duck meat in a mix of spices and herbs, including ginger, garlic, and green chilies. The dish is typically served with steamed rice and garnished with fresh coriander leaves. Duck curry is a staple in many Assamese households and is often prepared during festivals and special occasions. The dish is known for its rich and flavourful taste and is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse cuisine of Northeast India.
This simple yet delicious dish is made by mashing boiled potatoes with chopped onions, green chillies, and mustard oil. Some variations may include the addition of boiled eggs or dried fish. Aloo pitika is often served as a side dish with rice and dal, and it's a staple food in many households in Assam. This comfort food is not only easy to prepare but also filling and nutritious, making it a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
Masor tenga is a popular Assamese fish curry made with souring agents like tomatoes, lemon, or dried kokum and flavourings like ginger, garlic, and chillies. This tangy and spicy dish is typically served with steamed rice and is a staple in many Assamese households. The dish is easy to prepare and known for its bold and refreshing flavours. Masor tenga is not only delicious but also a healthy option as it is low in calories and high in protein.
It is a sour and spicy soup made with fish, tamarind, and a variety of spices, including ginger, garlic, and chillies. The dish also features vegetables like cucumber, onion, and lettuce, along with thick rice noodles. Asam laksa is often garnished with mint leaves and chopped coriander. This flavourful dish is a popular street food dish in Assam and has gained popularity in other parts of India and Southeast Asia. It is known for its tangy and spicy taste, making it a favourite among food enthusiasts.
Assamese love eating little fish in ginger gravy, or xoru maas diya adar jool. There are various types of little fish that can be used to make this mild soupy gravy. This dish sees a few basic spices like ginger, garlic, and green chillies. Another interesting twist is you can also add some Tengamora patere rondha or Roselle leaves. Rub some turmeric and salt to the fishes and gently fry them in mustard oil. With a little tampering of paanchfuran, chopped onions garlic ,chillies you add the roselle leaves. As you add water yoi can let it simmer for a while and then the fish. This dish goes best with some hot rice
Baanhgajor Lagot Kukura
This traditional Assamese dish is made with chicken and bamboo shoots. The chicken is cooked with a variety of aromatic spices and herbs, such as garlic, ginger, onions, and turmeric. The bamboo shoots are then added to the dish, giving it a unique and distinct flavour. This dish is typically served with steamed rice and is popular among the people of Assam. The combination of tender chicken and crunchy bamboo shoots makes for a delicious and satisfying meal. If you ever find yourself in Assam, be sure to try baanhgajor lagot kukura.
Payoxh, also known as payasam or kheer, is a traditional Indian dessert dish that is made with rice, milk, and sugar, and often flavoured with cardamom. It is usually served on special occasions such as weddings, festivals, and religious ceremonies. In Assamese culture, payoxh is considered a symbol of celebration, love, and happiness. It is also believed to have healing properties and is often offered as prasad in temples. Payoxh is a delicious and comforting dessert that is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Black Rice Pudding
Also known as "kumol saulor payoxh" in Assamese, this traditional Assamese dish is made with black rice, milk, jaggery, and cardamom. It is a sweet and nutritious dessert that is often served during festivals and special occasions. The black rice used in this pudding is high in antioxidants, fibre, and minerals, making it a healthier alternative to white rice. This delicious and exotic dessert is gaining popularity around the world for its unique flavour and health benefits.
Pitha is a traditional dish that is often enjoyed during festivals and special occasions. It is a type of rice cake that comes in various shapes and sizes, including circular, triangular, and cylindrical. Pitha is made using a mixture of rice flour, coconut, and jaggery and can be flavoured with spices like cardamom and cinnamon. It is typically served with tea or milk and can be enjoyed as a dessert or a snack.
In conclusion, Assamese cuisine is a unique and diverse blend of flavours and ingredients. From its signature dishes like masor tenga and pork with bamboo shoots to its vegetarian delights like aloo pitika, Assamese cuisine offers a range of culinary experiences. Most of these curry dishes are served with rice as a perfect accompaniment. The use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients, traditional cooking methods, and the influence of different cultures make Assamese cuisine a must-try for food lovers. So, the next time you visit Assam, make sure to try out some of the local delicacies and experience the unique flavours of Assamese cuisine.