Assamese cuisine is the cuisine of Assam. It is one of the notable cuisines of India. The style of cooking of Assamese cuisine is simple with use of fewer spices. Rice is the main common ingredient of food cuisines of Assam. The cuisines are prepared by the use of fresh vegetables and fish in abundance centered on rice as the staple food. Apart from fish, birds like duck, squab are also cooked paired with rice and a vegetable dish.
The traditional dish cuisine in Assam comprises largely of a ‘Khar’ and a ‘Tenga’ (or sour) dish. These two dishes are the definitive characteristic of a traditional Assamese meal. The food is served in bell metal utensils and is concluded with ‘Tamul’ (betel-nut).
The main ingredients of a traditional Assamese meal are:
It is the most important staple food of Assamese people. Due to its availability in abundance, it is consumed in almost all the dishes during the day. There are different rice varieties which are grown in Assam. Rice is eaten either boiled or sun dried. Rice is also prepared as ‘Jolpan’ or snack in different forms as roasted and grounded (known as xandoh), boiled and flattened (chira), puffed (akhoi) and a rice type which is soaked and eaten (kumal saul). Another form of rice preparation is ‘Poitabhat’ where rice is soaked overnight and eaten in the morning garnished with mustard oil, chilies, pickles, onion etc.
There are also other forms of delicacies prepared by rice known as ‘Pithas’. Pithas are rice cakes prepared mostly during Bihu. The rice are soaked and grounded and then fried or baked on fire. Pitha types like Til Pitha (a pitha made with sesame seeds, coconut and jaggery), Ghila pitha (pitha made with rice flour and jaggery and fried in cooking oil), Sunga pitha (pitha made with rice flour and jaggery roasted in a bamboo cork), Tekeli pitha (pitha made with rice flour, coconut, sugar baked in vapor over a pitcher or earthen ware), Deksi pitha (same as tekeli pitha but baked in a kettle rather than a pitcher) are worth mentioning. There are also Larus (Laddu) which are prepared with coconut and sesame seeds mix pasted with jaggery. Narikol laru and Tilor laru are the prime types of laddus.
The next important ingredient of Assamese cuisine is the fish. Fishes are available in abundance with people involving in pisciculture and fish farms. Different types of fish like Rohu, Hilsa, Chital, Borali, Maagur, Xingi, and Bhakua etc fried and baked as different delicacies. however, the popular fish delicacy is Tenga Mas (fish sour) which is prepared with tomatoes, kajinemu (thick elongated lemon) and thekera (dried mango stem). Apart from that, fish is also baked in leaves and prepared as a dish named Patotdia maas.
The Assamese meat dishes comprises meat, fish and chicken along with other meats like duck, squab, venison (though venison is legally prohibited) cooked in different styles.
Spices and Pickle:
The Assamese cuisine includes a large number of spices cooked prepared with ginger, garlic, onion, cumin seed, black pepper, chili, turmeric, fenugreek seed, white mustard seed etc. pickle of mango, olive, tamarind, mango stem, radish, carrot, elephant apple, lime etc are also included in cuisine.
Food preparation types:
The Assamese cuisine is accentuated with the significant delicacy types which are cooked in unique styles to garnish their taste.
The Khar is a type of food preparation made with the ingredient ‘Khar’. This ingredient is prepared by filtering water through the ashes of a banana tree. The suitable meal is cooked with this khar ingredient along with the main ingredient.
This is a sour dish prepared predominantly with fish as the main ingredient. It is prepared along with tomatoes, mango stem, lemon, fermented bamboo shoot, etc. another popular tenga dish is cooked with matimah (urad bean) and outenga (elephant apple).
Pitika is a side dish which involves mashing of the main ingredient. The most popular form of pitika is Aloo pitika where potatoes are mashed and garnished with raw onions, chilies and mustard oil. Khorisa tenga is a fermented bamboo shoot which is mashed and garnished with mustard oil and spices. Kharoli is fermented bamboo shoot pickled in mustard oil and spices.
Bora and Pokori:
Bora is made with local ‘Xaak’ within the main ingredient and served with tamarind pickle. Pokori or fritter is made of flowers and tender leaves of pumpkin, bottle gourd, eggplant and night flowering jasmine.
Assamese cuisine is one of the simple cuisine methods due to the lack of use of spices and deep frying. As such, it is one of the healthy forms of food preparations and is widely sought over by many Assamese and non-Assamese alike.