Pitha food dish of Assam

Food in Assam: A beginner's guide

Author: TG contributor
Date: 2020-01-04

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Food and gastronomy is the quickest and tastiest way to get to know a place or a culture. Whether you are a foodie or not, everyone loves food. All the states in northeast India have wide variety of foods to offer. Assam is no different. The beautiful state of northeast India, Assam provides amazingly delicious culinary delights. Assam is home to different tribes and indo-mangol- burmese mix of immigrants and boasts a varied feast for the tongue. The foods of Assam are generally called as the Assamese cuisine. These foods are extremely diverse and ranges from salty, sour, savory and sweet. Assam does not just have foods that fill you up and many side dishes but Assam also has variety of sweet foods to enjoy. We will try and cover few local foods of Assam here, some of the must try foods for both non- vegetarians as well as a few sides of vegetarian foods form Assamese cuisine to enjoy too.

Rice and Curries: Staple food of Assam

Khar - a unique dish of Assam

Khar is one of the interesting foods of Assam. This food is made with raw papaya, pulses, cassava and meat. It may sound bizarre but the combination works so well that you won’t be complaining. When you travel to Assam do not forget to at least give this food a try. While preparing khar you can choose between pork, mutton, chicken or even fish head. People in Assam generally eat fish in daily basis, you may choose your choice of meat while making this food or may try this dish with every meat. The use of banana skin ash filtered water in the broth, from which it derives its name, has a very refreshing effect on your palate. The choice of accompaniment is good old steamed rice. Khar is one of the must try foods in Assam.

Bangajor Lagot Kukura (Tender chicken cooked with bamboo shoot) - a delicacy of Assam

Another unique food to try when in Assam is the Bangajor Lagot Kukura. Bamboo shoot is a common delicacy in whole of northeast India. And we say while traveling to Assam do try this unique food. In this dish, chicken on the bone is cooked in lentils. This is a delicacy and has an acquired flavor imparted by the pungent bamboo shoots. The fermented bamboo shoots are more pungent, it is up to you to choose the kind of bamboo. But if you’re not experimental then try the one made with fresh bamboo (during rains) and enjoy it with hot steamed rice while in Assam.

Masor Tenga - fish dish of Assam

For fish lovers, this is the food to try. This stew is essentially sweet river fish in Assam simmered in a refreshing sauce base of tomatoes and made tangy by the addition of lime and the local favorite Ou or elephant apple. This food is a favorite dish of many locals and tourists in Assam to have with hot steamed rice. This Assamese food is extremely sour and acidic on its own, but when slow cooked becomes mellow and imparts a characteristic fragrance, it develops a taste that delights everybody. 

Read more about Masor Tenga

Masor Tenga -must have food in Assam

Paro Manxho - Assamese food for anyone with bold appetite

Paro Manxho is Assamese food prepared with pigeon or quail meat cooked along with banana flowers. This food is a sort of comfort food found in winters in Assam. Paro manxho is known for its warming qualities, this preparation is cooked and eaten by locals in Assam during cold months and if you happen to visit Assam during winters, do give this food a try. Game birds like duck and pigeon are commonly eaten in Assam and can be enjoyed by anyone with a bold appetite.

Poitabhat - flavored rice of Assam

Poitabhat is cooked rice, which is fermented overnight, is spiced with mustard oil, chillies, and onion. This food of Assam is then served with side dishes like pitika, which is a ubiquitous mash prepared with steamed or roasted potatoes, pulses or even fish. Poitabhat is basically a rice dish with a twist. If you are a rice lover, do try this food in Assam and let your taste buds enjoy a twisty flavor.  

Xaak Aru Bhaji - vegetarian food of Assam

Xaak aru bhaji is a dish of wild fern and potatoes mixed and cooked. This food is basically a curry fry and a local food in Assam that Assamese eat with their rice. You will generally see this food when ordering traditional Assamese thali style food. This is a side dish served with rice typically made with seasonal leaves spiced with garlic, ginger, and a spritz of lemon. If you have never tried wild ferns, it is advised to try this food while in Assam. Also, vegetarians can have this dish without any worry in Assam.

Ou Khatta - a must try food of Assam

This food is again another accompaniment for traditional Assamese food and is used as an astringent or palate cleanser after consumption of the rich food. It is essentially a chutney made from the sour fruit called Ou or elephant apple that is boiled, mashed, and then tempered with spices and cooked with palm jaggery till it reaches desired consistency. It is loved by Assamese and can be found in most of the places as side dish in Assam. It is served at room temperature and goes well with sweet curd and papads. Sometimes they usually give this while ordering Assamese thali food and if they don't, do ask if they have this delicious food and enjoy it.

The delicious Ou Khatta of Assam - must try food in Assam

Polu/ Leta - an interesting food of Assam

From the unique to the bizarre, Polu or silkworm larvae is a tribal delicacy and available only in certain parts of Assam. If you love experimenting and trying out new dishes, polu or leta is one of the foods for you to try in Assam. These silworm larvae are first boiled and then sautéed with spices. This Assamese food is best served with alcoholic drinks. We advise it for the brave hearts only. It is actually said to be delicious if you can get past the idea of having a worm. However if you are a curious person then we say, do not miss out your chance of tasting this unique dish in Assam.

Pithas - sweet food of Assam

Assam has a huge array of sweets to choose from. Most of the sweet foods of Assam consists of rice as base, milk, coconut, and jaggery. Pithas is also one of the popular sweet foods of Assam that essentially are rice cakes steamed, roasted, baked, rolled, or deep-fried with delicious stuffing made usually from sweetened coconut and jaggery. Assamese do have sweet tooth and have come across various yummy sweet foods. Do try at least a few varieties or all if you also have a sweet tooth.