Assamese food has an interesting flavor profile owing to the unique ingredients and the different ways food dishes are prepared. The style of cooking in Assamese food dishes is a mix of preferences favoured by those in the hills that involve fermentation and those of the plains, which comprises local fresh produce and an abundance of fish.
Components of a typical Assamese Meal
Typically, a local Assamese meal consists of many things such as bhat (rice) with dal (lentils), masor jhol (fish stew), mangxô (meat stew), and stir-fried greens or herbs and vegetables. The two main characteristics of a traditional meal in Assam are khar (or alkali, named after its main ingredient) and tenga (preparations bearing a characteristically rich and tangy flavor). Khorika is smoked or fire-grilled meat eaten with meals. Commonly consumed varieties of meat including mutton, fowl, duck/goose, fish, pigeon, pork, and beef (among Muslim, Christian, and indigenous Assamese communities). Grasshoppers, locusts, silkworms, snails, eels, wildfowl, squab and other birds, and venison are also eaten, albeit in moderation
Another interesting ingredient of Assamese food is khorisa (fermented bamboo shoots), which are used at times to flavour curries. They can also be preserved and made into pickles. Koldil (banana flower) and squash are also used in popular culinary preparations of Assamese food dishes.
A variety of different rice cultivars are grown and consumed in different ways, viz roasted ground, boiled, or just soaked.
The star of Assamese food is fish. Fish curries made of free-range wild fish as well as Bôralí, rôu, illish, or sitôl are the most popular in Assamese food dishes.
Another favourite food combination is luchi (fried flatbread) and curry.
Assamese food is often served in bell metal dishes and platters like Kanhi and Maihang.
Many indigenous Assamese communities’ households still continue to brew their traditional alcoholic beverages such as Laupani, Xaaj, Paniyo, Jou, Joumai, Hor, and Apang. Such local beverages are served during traditional festivities. Declining them is considered socially offensive.
10 DISHES TO TRY IN ASSAMESE CUISINE
1. Lai xaak (Food of Assam)
Assam is known for its unique collection of leafy greens that are not available elsewhere. Lai xaak is one of them. Pork with lai xaak is an unusual yet delicious combination enjoyed by the Assamese people.
Lai xaak- Food in Assam
2. Dal Kosu Xaak (Food of Assam)
Kosu xaak is another green leaf that is cooked with dal. This food has a creamy consistency and is best served with rotis.
Kosu xaak- Food in Assam
3. Sunga Chicken (Food of Assam)
The uniqueness of this food dish is in the method of food preparation. Minced and marinated chicken is stuffed and served in a bamboo hollow.
Sunga chicken- Food in Assam
4. Jute Leaf Curry (Food of Assam)
The use of unique herbs and leaves is an interesting part of Assamese food. Unlike elsewhere, the Assamese use jute leaves to form a puree, which is then consumed either as a soup or a curry.
Jute leaf curry- Food in Assam
5. Ouu Katha (Food of Assam)
Ouu katha, known as elephant apple, is a unique food ingredient used to prepare a sweetish sour chutney. This chutney is then added to dal.
Ouu katha- Food in Assam
6. Kumurat diya Hanhor Mangxo/Duck meat curry (Food of Assam)
Duck meat is cooked with ash gourd that gives it its unique taste. A prominent spice is black pepper.
Duck meat- Food in Assam
7. Silkworms (Food of Assam)
Silkworms are coated in spices and then deep-fried, resulting in a crunchy exterior and juicy inside. Some say its taste is similar to a mix of pork and chicken.
Silkworms- Food in Assam
8. Baanhgajor Lagor Kukura (Food of Assam)
A traditional food item, this food dish is made up of chicken, lentils, and bamboo shoots. The chicken and bamboo shoots are boiled separately first before finally cooking them together.
Baanhgajor lagor kukura, Food in Assam
9. Masor Tenga (Food of Assam)
Masor Tenga is a sour and tangy fish curry usually accompanied by rice. This is a staple food dish of Assam. The tangy flavor usually comes from the addition of lemon or mangosteen or tomato.
Masor tenga, Food in Assam
10. Khar (Food of Assam)
Khar is an ingredient that is added in different Assamese food items. Khar is prepared by filtering water through the ashes of the sun-dried skin of bananas. Khar can be used with raw papaya, pulses, and vegetables. It can also be used with fish.
So the next time you’re in Assam, go on an exciting culinary journey by trying out authentic Assamese food at the local markets. It’s best to ask the locals for their favourite food joints wherever you are.
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Never tried this cuisine but sounds interesting. Not sure about the silkworms though!
This article is very informative and interesting, so I appreciate it.