Assamese Cuisine, Food of Assam, Traditional cuisine North East India
A sumptuous Assamese Tai Ahom cuisine Thali served at a local restaurant ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

Food has been a universal connection between people for a really long time now. The food habit of a region reflects its culture and traditions to quite an extent. The same holds true for the cuisine of Assam as well, which has its own style and pattern, quite distinct from the rest of the country as well as ther north-eastern states. It is said that one can only get the true essence of the place he is visiting by tasting the local cuisine. The Assamese cuisine is one such factor of Awesome Assam that would add another star to the welcome note of Assam Tourism ‘Once you visit Assam, it stays with you forever’. The traditional food of Assam comes across as a blend of many exotic spices, herbs and condiments. With a wide variety of indigenous food to offer, the food of Assam is famous for its distinctive flavoring and influences. The people of Assam are known to have been blessed with the art of cooking and at Assam, men and women both cook with equal proficiency. Men folks of Assam comprise of the workforce that do cooking activities at any celebrations or religious ceremonies of Assam. The delicacies of Assam boast of a unique charm derived from exotic herbs and vegetables that are used in the dishes adding freshness and magnificent taste. Rice and fish are the staple food of Assam and are the main ingredients in Assamese cuisine. Less spicy and less oily are the speciality.

Assamese cuisine is influenced by the majority of the indigenous tribes of the State which is generally a confluence of cooking habits of the hills that favor fermentation and drying as forms of preservation. The Assamese cuisine is characterized with simplicity and variety and is much different from the cuisine of the rest of the country because the cuisine is less spicy. The Assamese cuisine is characterized with health and natural flavor because of the extensive use of herbs and organic vegetables. Assamese cuisine is generally low in oil and spices but the exotic herbs, meat and the Bhut Jolokia (the hottest pepper in the World) impart a strong flavor to the cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Food of Assam, Traditional cuisine North East India
Local cuisine of the Tribal people of Assam ~ Guwahati ~ Assam ~ India

A traditional meal in Assam begins with a Khar (a range of dishes named after its main ingredient) and ends with a Tenga (a sour dish). Food is generally served on bell metal plates and saucers accompanied by Tamul (Betel nut) and Paan. The people of Assam are mostly non-vegetarians with meat and fish being a regular dish accompanied with the staple diet of rice. For vegetarians, the cuisine of Assam serves an assorted meal of various locally grown organic vegetables and Cottage Cheese (Paneer).

The Assamese cuisine sees the use of meat varieties like chicken, duck, pigeon and pork. Fish varieties to fill a major part of the sumptuous Assamese cuisine. The fish curry is typically sour flavoured owing to the use of certain local herbs and vegetables. The meat dish is little spicy because of the use of green chillies and mustard oil often cooked with bamboo shoot called Khorisa. Baked or steamed fish wrapped in plantain leaves with mustard paste is a local delicacy called ‘Patot diya maas’. However, what sets the Assamese cuisine apart is traditional ‘detoxifying’ appetizers cooked in a variety of ways. The most popular being the ‘Khar’ which is prepared by burning the stem of the banana tree and roasting an soaking banana peels. The Assamese cuisine ‘Khar’ has a distinct flavor and is soothing for the stomach. With numerous rivers and wetlands, Assam is also home to the largest variety of fish species in India, and thus many fish recipes like tenga anjaa, sorsori, patot diya, sungat diya, pora, pitika, bhoja, korikat diya, bhapot diya, etc. all depending on the type of fish you are eating here in Assam.

The typical Assamese snacks and meals for breakfast include chira, akhoi, pitha-guri, hurum, sandoh-guri, muri, doi and gur, with a sonda-hol or malbhog kol (local variety of banana) adding to the taste. Sweetmeats include various kinds of pitha made up of different varieties of rice-powder, gur, coconut powder and sesame (til).

In summary, the various ingredients of the Assamese cuisine are ~

  • Rice
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Herbs and Vegetables
  • Natural Spices

The Various preparations in the Assamese Cuisine are ~

  • Khar (Named after the ingredient Khar)
  • Masor Tenga (Sour Fish Curry)
  • Narasingh Masor Jul (Fish curry with curry leaves)
  • Pura (Roasted meat, fish or vegetables)
  • Pitika (mashed potatoes/vegetables with spices)
  • Pickle
  • Chutney and Salad
  • Pokori (fritter made from potato, brinjal, herbs, etc.)
  • Rice Beer (locally brewed named variously as Xaas, Laupani, Zudima, Apong, etc.)
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Servings of Rice Wine ‘Sai Mod’ with Roasted Pork and roasted prawns
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Servings of Rice Wine ‘Judima’ with Roasted Pork in banana leaves and fish tangy gravy

North East India is home to over 200 tribes and each of these tribal community have brought with them the secret recipes and flavours from the land of their origin which, they have continued to pass in on to their generations. From various herbs to meat preparations these tribes bring forth to you an exquisite blend of mouth watering savory delights. Although the use of meat is prevalent in most of the food preparations, the dishes like the khar, fried mixed vegetables and the yam soup are sure to mesmerize the taste buds of the vegetarians.

However, with the advent of time and adoption of technology leading to modernization has made the modern households of North East India to stick to their favorites of the likes of Maggi, Burgers, KFCs and Ready to Eat recipes but still people find time to visit the markets on a Sunday morning to get home the freshest organic vegetables, fishes/meat for the lunch. This meal on a Sunday afternoon also serves as a get together for the entire members of a family.

Getting back to the traditional cuisine from the region, North East Indian cuisine is very different from the cuisine across the country in the sense that the use of oil and powdered spices are minimal to almost nil. This minimal use doesn’t make the food Bland instead its “Aromatic and  Hot” with the use of Garden Herbs, Organic Vegetables and the Second hottest pepper in the world the ‘Bhut Jolokia’. A chilli or two (enough to spark the fire), ginger, garlic, occasionally sesame and a few local herbs are all it takes to churn out a meal with the distinctive flavor of North East. A meal here, is incomplete without a steaming platter of rice, various green vegetables and recipes churned out to get the daily dose of protein via Poultry (duck, geese, chicken), Beef, Pork, Freshwater Fish. Not to forget, all this arranged on a platter and that too with the minimal use of artificial spice.

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
The Grand Assamese Thali with around 27 offerings served at a Restaurant in Kaziranga

The seven sister states have a varied taste when it comes to their food preparation. This is mostly due to the use of ingredients in their food preparations. The state of Manipur is better known for the recipes churned out using fish as an ingredient, the state of Nagaland Nagaland is better known for its dishes that use bamboo and meat as primary ingredients. The state of Mizoram prefers it platter to contain boiled and subtle preparations rather than the fried foods. The states of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh  prefer their main course to contain their version of momos and noodles, but again without much influx of spices. The state of Assam is home to a wide variety of tribes and their influence on the food habits of the locals is very evident. A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dish named after the main ingredient of Papaya and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils. Paan, the practice of chewing betel nut, generally concludes a meal.

Jungleideas welcomes you to North East India and be a part of the exciting culinary journey to savor the delights of the traditional cuisine of North East India!

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
The Grand Assamese platter served on banana leaf at the Chandubi Jungle Camp

A short description of the most famous dishes of Assam is as follows:

Pitha:

These are the home cooked cakes of Assam: Pitha is one of the most popular snack-time dishes of Assam, usually eaten at breakfast or with evening tea. There are a wide variety of Pithas available across households of Assam. They can be sweet or savoury, steamed of fried, cooked in a many different styles and techniques. This is one of the most technical foods of Assam and needs a lot of precision to get the dish to turn out correct. The different pitha varieties of Assam are known as ghila pitha, til pitha, bora pitha, narikol pitha, sutuli pitha, tekelir mukhot-diya pitha, bhaat pitha, luthuri pitha, sunga pitha, etc.

Masor Tenga:

Tangy Fish curry: This graceful dish of Assam is extremely refreshing on the palette. This fish curry recipe of Assam is made sour and yet it magically turns out to be delicious! The local fish varieties of Assam is slow cooked in a rich, tangy broth made with tomato, outenga (elephant fruit) and kazi nemu – a local variety of lemon. The end result is a melt-in-the-mouth fish recipe. flavoured in pure awesomeness.

Various Duck Meat Recipes:

Duck meat is a delicacy across Assam. This delicacy of a food of Assam is cooked with Ash Gourd (lauki) and is generally cooked on several occasions. The use of whole spices gives the meat a unique flavor. The curry can be cooked according to individual preferences which may vary from person to person. It can be cooked with lentil, sesame, pumpkin and a lot of other ingredients.

Aloo Pitika:

Comfort food of Assam. Aloo Pitika is a simple side dish accompanied with rice and dal. A soul food in its truest sense, aloo pitika is loved by all of Assam. It is essentially a dish made with mashed potatoes, mustard oil, onion, coriander and salt. This dish can be eaten at both lunch and dinner. Assam version of the humble mashed potato is delightfully simple and flavorsome.

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Various Pitika offerings at a grand meal at the Chandubi Jungle Camp
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Various Pitika offerings at the Chandubi Jungle Camp

Ou-Tengar Anja:

Food of Assam to tingle your taste buds!

Saak aru Bhaji:

Herbs and vegetables: This dish of Assam is a usual side dish for lunch/dinner. Made with herbs and vegetables, the components of this dish are generally seasoned with ginger, garlic, cinnamon, onions and sometimes lemon. It is a staple diet food of Assam which is consumed on regular basis, and is still tasty and flavorsome.

Various Pigeon Meat recipes:

Pigeon meat is simply a delight for non-vegetarians of Assam. Pigeon meat usually makes your body warm and is perfect to eat during the cold winters of Assam. It tastes best when eaten with Koldil (banana flower) which is a common side dish in the food of Assam. This is a wonderful Assamese dish which combines the delicious texture of the banana flower along with the pigeon meat. Banana flowers are the buds of the banana plant, which are soaked and shredded for use in curries.

Fried silkworm: Creative food of Assam:

Yes, Assamese people like to eat creepy crawlies too and make it taste awesome! The word ‘exotic’ would best describe this dish. Essentially a tribal dish of Assam, the larva is stir fried with spices. It is crunchy on the outside and liquid-like inside. Might not please everybody, but is definitely worth a try.

Baanh-gaj aru Kukura: Chicken with Bamboo Shoot

This is a unique dish of the food of Assam made with chicken meat, bamboo shoots and lentil. The taste of bamboo shoots is not very common and doesn’t suit everyone but once you eat it, it leaves behind a unique taste which is generally complimentary to meat dishes.

Various Pork recipes:

Widely popular among most Assamese foodies are the various pork dishes like Gahori aru Lai Saak (Pork with spinach), Gahori aaru gaanj tenga (Pork with Bamboo shoot), Pork meat smoked and roasted on bamboo skewers, etc.

Culinary Tour of Assam ~

In this culinary tour of Assam we visit different destinations of Assam across the State to try various cuisines of the different indigenous people of Assam. We start from Chandubi lake area near Guwahati and travel across Assam to get a taste of some exciting cuisine as well as staying at ethnic homestays and eco camps to enjoy the life, culture and traditions of the ethnic people of Assam. We will visit the five (5) different tribes of Assam and taste their local food preparations along with tasting their freshly brewed traditional rice beer and rice wine. Explore the varied flora and fauna of Assam at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park as well sighting the flagship species here of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros. We discover the Neo Vaishnavite Satras of Majuli Island and also get to witness the life of the Mishing people of Assam savouring their traditional rice beer of ‘Apong’ and rice wine of ‘Sai Mod’ and also tasting their sumptuous cuisine at their homestay and local villages. We travel to far end of Assam at Tipam village and Margherita as well where we get an opportunity to celebrate and dine with the legendary Tai Phake and Singpho people of Assam.

Tribal food of Assam served on a platter
Tribal food of Assam served on a platter

Detailed Itinerary of your culinary tour of Assam is as below ~ 

Day 1 ~ Guwahati Airport – Chandubi

Arrive at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi in Guwahati. Upon arrival you will be welcomed by our representative offering you a warm welcome in a traditional Assamese style. From the airport drive to Chandubi lake area near Guwahati. Home to the rabha people of Assam, Chandubi lake is a natural lagoon that was formed during the great earthquake of Assam in 1897. The presence of this pristine water reserve here has provided a sustained growth of a varied diversity around the area with a wonderful forest reserve home to varied species of wildlife like tigers, wild elephants, hoolock gibbons, langurs, slow loris, pythons and various bird species. The rabha people here have been inhabiting the Chandubi lake area since ages and have now opened up this place for visitors to come and admire the vast natural beauty and also to take a glimpse into their way of living. Check into the Chandubi Jungle Camp here after crossing the lake on a country boat.

After checking in take a walk around the local forest reserve and a local village are here. Return back to the Chandubi Jungle Camp where a lavish traditional dinner will await you. The rabha cuisine is free from powdered spices and very less in oil. Try their local chicken curry, pork with sesame seeds, freshly plucked banana flower fry, various types of fire roasted and mashed vegetables like potato, brinjal, etc. also savour traditional Rabha rice wine if interested.

Night Stay: Chandubi Jungle Camp

Meals Included: Dinner

Day 1 ~ Chandubi – Guwahati

Today we explore the nearby villages near the Chandubi lake and also visit the waterfall area nearby. Bid farewell to Chandubi lake and drive to Guwahati. On the way we stop at Maligaon area for lunch. Here we visit the Maa Manasha restaurant which serves delicious bengali cuisine. The Bengali people are a major part of the population of Assam and their cuisine is often enjoyed by the people of Assam at special family occasions. Fish is an integral part of the Bengali cuisine and here at the Maa manasha restaurant we will try out some delicious fish and prawn recipes. Next up we explore the Assam State Museum and proceed to check into your Hotel in Guwahati. In the evening we visit Kareng – the Ahom Kitchen at G S Road in Guwahati. The Ahoms form the lineage of the longest ruling kingdom of North East India (600 years) and had introduced various food recipes across the region. Savour traditional Tai Ahom cuisine here and return back to your hotel for night halt.

Night Stay: Hotel Pragati Manor Guwahati

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Sumptuous Non Veg Platter served at the Chandubi Jungle Camp

Day 3 ~ Guwahati – Kaziranga National Park

Today after breakfast we proceed to visit the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in the morning hours. The Kalakshetra provides a deep insight into the lives of the people of Assam. After exploring the place we embark on our journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kaziranga National Park. We will have lunch on the way at Nagaon at the 7 sisters dhaba here. This place serves one of the best Assamese Thalis in the area accompanied by meaty delights of local chicken, duck, mutton, etc. Savour your lunch at Nagaon and then continue your drive to Kaziranga National Park. We arrive at Kaziranga National Park in the late afternoon and then proceed to visit the Kaziranga Orchid Park. Witness the varied indigenous orchid species of Assam at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and also get a glimpse of the various traditional handicrafts and handlooms of Assam here as well. Witness traditional folk dances of Assam here at the Kaziranga Orchid Park and then check into your Eco Camp at Kaziranga National Park. A lavish ethnic Assamese dinner will be served to you at the Eco camp in Kaziranga National Park in the evening.

Night Stay: Nature Hunt Eco Camp at Kaziranga

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, NoAssamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisinerth East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Sumptuous Food platter served at the Kaziranga Orchid Park

Day 4 ~ Kaziranga – Majuli Island

Early morning go for an Elephant Safari ride into the interiors of Kaziranga National Park at the Bagori (Western) safari range. Later after breakfast go for a Jeep Safari ride into Kaziranga National Park from the central safari range. After finishing your rides transfer to Majuli Island. Lunch we will have on the way at Numaligarh dhaba one of the most popular along the road restaurant in Assam which is always bustling with customers and serves freshly cooked hygienic food. There is a pond area behind the Numaligarh Dhaba where the owners breed various species of fish. Try the fish curries and fish fry recipes in a traditional Assamese cooked way at the Numaligarh Dhaba and then continue on your drive to Neemati Ghat to board your ferry to Majuli Island. We reach Majuli at around 4 PM and we check into the La Maison de Ananda homestay here in Majuli. Evening we visit the Sri Sri Uttar Kamalabari Satra to witness one of the 8 classical dance forms of India – the Sattriya Nritya. After the performance we head back to the La Maison De Ananda and have a lavish Mishing style dinner at the Risong Kitchen adjacent to the place.

Night Stay: La Maison de Ananda at Majuli

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 ~ Majuli Island

Today we explore the various Neo Vaishnavite Satras of Majuli Island. We at first visit the Sri Sri Auniati Satra at Kamalabari in Majuli. Next up we explore the art of traditional mask making at the Samaguri Satra. We continue to explore the Dakhinpat Satra and also visit the Salmora village to witness the art of traditional pottery making. Lunch will be arranged at a local home in Phutuki village that will serve you authentic Mishing cuisine having roasted fish, pork with spinach, pork khorika, various herbs, black dal, etc. After lunch we explore the Mishing villages around and witness ladies weaving exquisite handlooms on traditional looms. Late afternoon we travel to the banks of the river Luit to spend our time at calm and witness various bird species around the river banks. Return to La Maison de Ananda for night halt.

Night Stay: La Maison de Ananda at Majuli

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Servings of Rice Wine ‘Sai Mod’ with Roasted Pork and roasted prawns

Day 6 ~ Majuli Island – Tipam Village

Today we will bid goodbye to Majuli Island to travel to Tipam village near Naharkatia after making a stop at Sivasagar. The Land of the mighty Ahom kings we explore the Kareng Ghar, Talatal Ghar and Rang Ghar at Sivasagar. Savor traditional Ahom style cuisine at a restaurant here in Sivasagar and continue on your drive to Tipam village. Tipam is home to the Tai phake people of Assam who practice Buddhism as their faith. The Tai Phake people of Tipam stay in a natural surrounding covered by the Patkai mountain range and the rivers flowing across it. Check into the Tai Phake Eco Camp at Tipam. Evening we explore a nearby village to learn about the life and culture of the Tai Phake people here. An elaborate traditional dinner of Tai Phake cuisine will be arranged for you here in the evening.

Night Stay: Tai Phake Eco Camp at Tipam

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7 ~ Tipam Village – Margherita 

Today we travel to Margherita from Tipam after exploring another local village at Tipam. On our drive we will cross the lush forest cover of the Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary. We arrive at Margherita by late afternoon. At Margherita we go for a traditional Singpho cuisine lunch at the Singpho Villa Restaurant at Baragolai. After savouring our ethnic lunch we explore India’s only coal museum at Margherita. In the evening we check into the Singpho Eco Lodge at Inthing village in Margherita. Explore the lush tea gardens of Assam near the Singpho and evening dine on a traditional Singpo cuisine dinner here at the Singpho Eco Lodge.

Night Stay: Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 ~ Margherita – Digboi – Margherita

Our day begins today by exploring a very old Buddhist Monastery near the Singpho Eco Lodge. Later we travel to Digboi Oil town to explore the land where oil was first discovered in Asia. At first we explore the Digboi World War II cemetery. Later we drive around Digboi oil town and wrap up our visit at the Digboi Centenary Oil Museum that also has the Oldest Operational Oil well in the World. We will have traditional Arunachali cuisine at the Ngai Lung restaurant near Bogapani and later return back to the Singpho Eco lodge at Margherita before visiting the Namdang Bibi Majhar at Namdang.

Night Stay: Singpho Eco Lodge at Margherita

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9 – Margherita – Dibrugarh Airport

Our tour ends today where we have our breakfast at the Singpho Eco Lodge at then proceed on our drive to the Dibrugarh airport. We will drop you off at the Dibrugarh airport for your flight to your onward destination thereby ending of culinary experience across Assam. Tour Ends. Bid Adieu!

Night Stay: NA

Meals Included: Breakfast

Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
A special offering of an Assamese thali
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Roast pork and chicken in traditional Assamese style
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
A special tangy pork recipe at the Chandubi Jungle Camp
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Special roasted pork recipe at the Chandubi Jungle Camp
Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, Assamese cuisine, Kaziranga Assam, North East India Cuisine, Nagaland cuisine
Various offerings of traditional Assamese meal at the Chandubi Jungle Camp

The indigenous people of Assam who have resided in the state since times immemorial have perfected the art of village cooking across Assam and they have found and derived the plants and herbs that can be used in tribal cooking process. Assam is home to many indigenous and rare plants and herbs that are used to enrich the taste of the village food and along with tit impart several medicinal properties to the food. When you travel across the villages in Assam and the countryside you will find homes (smaller bamboo houses) but each having a large land either at the front or the back. Many of these lands also house a small pond at the entrance and this pond is where fishes are reared for the consumption of the household. The land in that house will have a lot of fruit bearing trees like berries, amla, mangoes, papaya, betel nut, betel leaves, curry plants, tulsi shrubs, etc. and the would also be vegetable garden that the owners would attend to get their fresh produce of vegetables like potatoes, gourd, bitter gourd, carrot, brinjal, pumpkin, Bhut Jolokia, green chillies, etc. and along the sides would grow various herbs and other medicinal plants like Kosu, Dhekia, Manimuni, coriander, naga dhania, morisa xaak, lai xaak, pudina, ginger leaves, garlic, ginger, etc. And each household also rears livestock like country chicken, ducks, pigs, etc.

And when a meal is prepared at these village homes across Assam you are bound to taste a food that is not only delicious and loaded with natural flavours but also rich in various nutrients like the requisite dosage of vitamins, calcium, proteins, sodium, etc. everything that is required for a healthy living and to boost a person’s immunity as well. As mentioned earlier, Assamese cuisine doesn’t make use of lots of oil or artificial spices and the flavours are brought out from the ample use of ginger, garlic, green chillies, the vegetables in the curry, the meat, herbs and the main wonder that is wood fire. Food cooked over wood fire is a tradition across most of the tribal homes of Assam and a wood fore centred at the kitchen where the family sits and spends time in the evening over rice beer and dinner is a common practice. From my experience at Majuli Island in Assam that is home to the Mishing community of Assam I have visited and stayed in the island many number of times and I often go to my friend’s house there to savour some ethnic Mishing cuisine and it is at his house that is a Chang Ghar viz. a bamboo house that is built on an elevated platform as Majuli being the largest river island in the World is often prone to floods in the monsoon season either due to the waters of the Brahmaputra or the Luit river or even the excessive rains that pour down and convert dry lands into artificial pool or lake that have waterlogging and it stays this way for the three monsoon months of July, August and September

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
At a local Mishing traditional village Kitchen in Majuli

So in order to protect the family so the water doesn’t enter their houses they build their homes on elevated platforms. Concrete pillars about 8 feet high are constructed and on top of it the house is constructed using bamboo and covered up with tin sheets in the form of slope on each side so that the water passes down and doesn’t accumulate on top. On the entrance there is an open space where they wash the dishes and keep them for drying and you have to remove your shoes before entering the house. The family kitchen is at the entrance and behind there are two rooms without doors that houses a family of six people. It might sound quite strange to a person living in a city as to how six people live in two tiny rooms but this is a fact in the villages of Assam where the family size is big but the house is small. It is at this house of my friend in Majuli Mr Rupam Regon that I learnt so much about food of Assam and the art of village cooking that has transformed my way of life especially how I eat.

I was born and raised in a household where my parents were high class executives and to me food was about taste and filling my stomach. Watching TV commercials and learning about the delicious fast food recipes my diet was one of the poorest but expensive because I grew up surviving on farm raised chicken, rice, dal and very less greens, To me eating vegetables was for the grass eating animals and meat was the only healthy food (little did I realize that I was eating the most unhealthy diet). Time passed and I went outside Assam leaving the treasures of Assamese cuisine behind and I began surviving on pizzas, tandoori chicken, chicken curry, rice, noodles and again no vegetables. Up to the age of 25 things were good and I also learnt about the worldly pleasures of alcohol and tobacco all included as a part of my life. It was only after 25 that I gradually felt my body losing its vigour and I kept feeling tired often though I was at a nice job early a decent salary. It was at the age 28 that I was diagnosed with hypertension and then started the regular routine of popping a pill in the morning that would have said to keep my blood pressure under control. Over the years I quit my job and pursed my interest of starting my travel company and thus started my visit to Majuli Island and I came to know Rupam and I often visited his home because we bonded naturally and I discovered the wonders of Assamese cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Roasting a duck over wood fire at Rupam’s house in Majuli Island

From a person who always wanted meat for food I gave up the regular consumption of meat and completely the eating of farm raised animals (chicken and pig) and my instinct of craving for fish and organically grown food be it vegetables, meat, fish became a part of my diet. Little did O know that simple ingredients like ginger and garlic are a good cure for the regulation of blood pressure and one doesn’t need to buy expensive medicines to cure it. Regular exercise and balanced diet with natural food is what is needed to eradicate the maximum number of ailments of the human body. Assamese village food and tribal cuisine is an excellent example of a balanced diet as most of the ingredients used to prepare the food is derived organically from nature. In a typical Assamese village like Majuli you will be surprised as to how a person goes about the surrounding near his house and picks up the ingredients to prepare a fresh meal. For instance at Rupam’s house when it is time for food in the morning Rupam simple walks out of his house into a natural garden nearby and he picks up ingredients like elephant apple, some herbs like manimuni, kosu, banana stem, banana flower and there is a fish net puts across the small natural pond behind his house and he gets either of these ingredients for example say the banana stem and chops them up into small pieces, fries the fish, chops the onions, tomatoes and pound the ginger and garlic and chillies and mixes everything up in a Kadhai and adds salt and turmeric and allows the food to boil with some water and later tops it up with some green coriander and the food is ready. Rice is an important part of the diet of the Assam village food and a saucer of rice is always available for eating at any village home in Assam. So when the kids are ready to go to school, the men to do their jobs or work in the fields they take a bell metal plate and put a good quantity of rice and the curry and they are set to do the work for the day and come back in the afternoon for another meal of the village cuisine of Assam. The people across these villages of Assam get up quite early in the morning and begin their day early as well so they retire to bed quite early by 8.30 and so dinner is an early affair and by 5 PM the family members get together around the fire with few neighbours coming in and they discuss the proceedings of the day over rice beer.

The head of the house or either of the neighbours who come to the house for the evening ritual of rice beer gets along some meat or fish he had bought from the market nearby and the family gets to cooking the meal. Anyone who comes to the Mishing house is offered rice beer and the meal that is being cooked and from my experience at Rupam’s house and some other houses in Majuli as well, the evening starts with two or three people savouring their choice of alcohol either Apong, Chulai or IMFL and by the time before dinner viz. by around 8 PM, there would have been at least five to six people sitting and dining in the small kitchen. And the people often get only something to be had along with the evening drinks be it fish or meat and mostly it is fish that is simply fried up and served for the guests. Though food is offered to each and every guest but as they are people from the village itself so they chose to go back home for dinner. The Mishing cuisine of Assam is very diverse and they prepare a lot of dishes based on meat and fish recipes which they cook it with several herbs and the general Mishing food doesn’t have too many accompaniments. There will be rice, a meat or fish curry cooked with various vegetables that is to be had with the rice and some kind of a chutney that brings along the heat to the food as it is prepared with lots of chillies.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Mishing Apong served with roasted pork in Majuli

Some recipes of this chutney are ‘Namsing’ – this is a dried fish chutney that is a favourite accompaniment to go along with a village Mishing cuisine when there is nothing else to eat with rice. As the villages in Majuli are often prone to floods during the monsoon season this is the season of scarcity all across and sometimes the floods are very severe washing away the reared animals and livestock of the people and even submerging the houses even though they are built on an elevated platform. So to beat these unfortunate times when people can’t even step out of their homes to get things to eat because of the unavailability of the boat, the people survive on things that they had sun dried and kept for consumption later like dried fish and smoked pork or even the simple pickle. The Namsing comes in handy this time because you just mix the item with some oil and put it on your rice and it brings in an aroma of flavours that help you to eat the food. Other simple village cooking recipes during this time of scarcity are mashed potato recipes that are made by boiling the potatoes and mixing it with salt, onions, green chillies and mustard oil and eating it with rice.

Boiled greens that grow on top of the houses are also had as food during this time of crisis. Once the monsoon season ends it is the time of celebrations as the agricultural fields now turn green with the growth of paddy all around and the silt brought in by the rivers makes the soil very fertile and in places like Majuli one doesn’t need manure or fertilizers to grow vegetables. One just throws the seeds on the soil and the vegetables grow on their own. Carrots, potatoes, radish, bitter gourd, gourd, pumpkin, coriander, garlic, ginger, herbs, cauliflower all grow on the soil easily. With the end of the season approaches the festival of Raas Leela and it is the time to celebrate across the Island the life of Lord Krishna. Feasting with the fresh produce and the abundance of fishes is now common and it is no longer a time of scarcity and rather a time of abundance. Various village food are prepared across the homes at the villages in Majuli and it is also a time of picnic when group of people get together and flock to nearby banks of rivers to celebrate a day of fun. The Mishing people brew three variants of rice beverages locally at their homes in the villages. There three types are called as Apong – the rice beer, Sai Mod – the rice wine and Chulai – the rice whiskey. While the Apong and Sai mod are mid alcoholic beverages and are mostly used to offer to the guests who visit a Mishing house along with some meat or fish recipes, the Chulai is a strong rice wine and it gets a person intoxicated very quickly and it is a favourite among the daily wage workers of the villages.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fresh Kumura or White gourd growing in the fields of Majuli

All these forms of rice wine are brewed by allowing the rice to ferment for a few days and mixed with various herbs that allow the fermentation to happen and also impart special flavours to the wine. Though all forms of these rice beer and wine can get you intoxicated but in small amounts they do not cause intoxication and should be savoured like any other wine. As these wine products are made for consumption at home they are not spurious and come with a variety of health benefits as it is basically rice and various herbal ingredients. The rice whiskey is also said to be good for the regulation of high blood pressure and all done in moderation is good. Not only the Mishing people, the various other tribes of Assam have their own traditional forms of rice wine that are consumed across the local villages along with various village cuisine. For example, the Bodo people of Assam brew and consume the Jau that is basically a rice beer again made by fermentation of rice, the Dimasa people has their traditional rice wine called as the Judima, the Deori people of Assam consume the Suze, the Ahom people have the Xaaj Pani, the Tiwa people have Zu, etc. The common ingredient of all these alcoholic beverages is rice and rice is also an integral part of the village cuisine of Assam and various varieties of rice is grown organically in the fields for the local consumption as well as for the market.

Some rice varieties are sticky and they are cooked in a different way as well and the sticky rice is often wrapped up in a leaf and served and is called as the ‘Tupula Bhat’ in the village cooking name. Another interesting rice variety of Assam is called as the ‘Kumal Saul’ – a rice variety that cooks on its own. Preferred mostly by the field workers who take this rice along with them to the fields and after their work they just add water to the rice and allow it to soak in the water for a while and the rice is ready to be consumed. Boiling water is also added and this way they can consume the rice with the curry they get along with them. Another version of eating this Kumal Saul rice variety is to soak the rice overnight in water and in the morning boil a potato and mix it with onions, chillies, coriander and mustard oil and mash the mixture with the Kumal Saul and consume it. Rice cakes are also an integral part of the village cuisine of Assam and pounded rice is made into a round ball and allowed to steam that makes it into a cake. In the celebrations of the Bihu festival of Assam, pounded rice is used to prepare various Pithas – sweet meat that is made by using rice to form an outer coating and the inside is stuffed with sesame or coconut mixed with sugar.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A sticky rice variety of Assam in village cooking

One very popular lentil apart from rice that is eaten commonly across the village households of not only Majuli island but is an integral village cuisine of Assam is the Mati Dali (Black Lentil) and though it can be savoured just by boiling it with ingredients like garlic, ginger, onions, chillies, etc. the flavour of the Mati Dali increases when you add the meat of either country chicken or pork to it. At Rupam’s house, whenever I go to Majuli from Guwahati it is a common practice that his mother would have raised a country chicken for me to savour at their house since a few months and the day I arrive at Majuli, the chicken would be slaughtered for its meat and Rupam would get to the preparations of the meat. The meat of the country chicken is not very tender unlike the farm raised broiler chicken as it feeds on natural food from the surroundings and so it grows with stronger bones and fibre in its muscles so it takes time to cook the meat of this village bird. In many households across the towns and cities the preparations of country chicken often means it to be put in the pressure cooker and allowed to pressure cook the meat for a few whistles for the meat to be completely done. But in the village cooking the cooking style is different as the entire village recipe is cooked over firewood but in order to make the Mati Dali tender it had to be soaked in water for at least four hours to get a tender texture.

After the chicken meat is chopped up and Rupam is ready to prepare this village cuisine, his wife chops up the onions and makes ready a paste of garlic pods, ginger and green chillies that is pounded in a stone grinder and the preparations begin by lighting the fire and adding oil to a Kadhai a generous amount because this meal would feed at least 10 people and adding in Bay leaves, red chillies and paanch phuron. Later the onions and ginger garlic chilli paste is allowed to fry up. Salt and turmeric are added and the chicken meat is added and allowed to be fried for a while and later the tomatoes are added and one the meat is fried for some time the Mati Dali is added. After frying for a little more time water is added and the mixture is allowed to boil for about 30 minutes until the meat and dal is both tender. The curry is finally topped with the Naga dhania and this is one of the very flavourful village cuisines of Mati Dali and Kukura Mankhho (Country Chicken). The meat can be instead that of pork as well. The pork meat is ensured to be boiled properly with turmeric to remove the bacteria from the meat and the water discarded. The end result is one of the most flavourful natural cooked foods that is loaded with the goodness of organically grown Mati Dali (Black Dal), country chicken, the health benefits of ginger, garlic, green chillies, turmeric and the naga dhania.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Preparations on for Mati Dali aru Mankho in village cooking of Assam

A simple recipe for Mati Dali and Kukura (Black Dal with chicken)/Mati Dali with Gahori (Black Dal with pork) is as below and can be prepared at home:

Ingredients:

  • Black Dal (Mati Dali)                        : 1 Cup
  • Chicken (Kukura Mankho)/Pork Meat : 300 gms
  • Bay Leaf (Tej Pat)                          : 2 Nos.
  • Red Chillies (Hukan Jolokia)            : 2 Nos.
  • Paanch Phuron           : 2 Tsp.
  • Onions (Piyaz)           : 1 Nos. Large
  • Garlic (Nohoru)           : 5 Pods
  • Ginger (Ada)           : 1 inch
  • Green Chillies (Kesa Jolokia)           : 4 nos
  • Tomato (Bilahi)           : 1 nos.
  • Naga Dhania (Man Dhania)/Coriander    :  5 leaves/1 bunch
  • Salt, Turmeric, Jeera Powder : As per taste

Step 1: Clean the Mati Dali (Black Dal) under running water for a while and allow it to soak in the water for 3 hours.

Step 2: Clean the meat (Chicken/Pork) and chop into small pieces. If you are using chicken then marinate it with little salt, turmeric and Jeera powder and keep it aside for 30 minutes. If you are using pork then boil the pork meat in water added with some turmeric and discard the water after the meat is boiled.

Step 3: Chop the onions and the tomatoes.

Step 4: Peel the garlic, ginger and add the green chillies in a blender and make a paste of this.

Step 4: Check for the Black Dal (Mati Dali) and clean it again. The husk of the dal might come out now but do not throw it away during cleaning.

Step 5: Take a pressure cooker and transfer the Mati Dali to the cooker and pour water in the cooker and ensure to have 1 inch extra water. Add a tsp. of turmeric and 1 table spoon of salt. Mix it with the dal and cover the lid of the pressure cooker properly and allow it to pressure cook for 5 whistles. Close the gas burner and allow the pressure cooker to release the steam.

Step 6: Heat mustard oil in a large Kadhai sufficient in size to accommodate the curry after addition of the boiled Mati Dali. Once the oil heats up and smoke can be seen coming out of the oil reduce the gas flame and add the bay leaf, red chillies and the panch phuron. The seeds might sprinkle out of the Kadhai so be careful.

Step 7: Now add the onions and fry for some time and later add the garlic ginger green chilly paste to the Kadhai. Again be careful while adding the mixture as it might splutter in the hot oil. Raise the gas burner to medium and fry for some time. Add in the meat of the chicken or the pork and fry for some time on medium heat and later turn the gas to sim. After about 15 minutes of frying the meat add in the tomato pieces and never add the tomatoes along with the meat as this will make the meat much longer to cook.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Home cooked Mati Dali aru Gahori (Black Dal and Pork) recipe of the village cuisine of Assam

Step 8: Open the pressure cooker and use a spatula to mix the dal properly and keep it aside.

Step 9: Open the lid of the Kadhai and check for the tenderness of the meat. If the meat is not yet tender allow to cook for some more time. The tomatoes should have mashed by now.

Step 10: Once the meat is tender pour in the Mati Dali from the pressure cooker into the Kadhai. Don’t add salt yet because we have already added the salt and turmeric in the dal and also in the meat of the chicken and pork.

Step 11: Check the consistency of the dal in the Kadhai. If is too thick then add some water as we would need to coil the curry for a while.

Step 12: Allow the dal to boil for about 10 minutes and the colour of the curry will now change from a black to a little yellow meaning the dish is almost done. Check for salt in the dal and if needed add some salt and put the naga dhania or coriander on top and allow simmering for about 5 min.

The Mati Dali aru Kukuara Mankho (Black Dal with chicken)/Mati Dali aru Gahori Mankho (Black Dal with Pork) is now ready and serves it hot with white rice.

The preparation of this recipe takes about 45 minutes once you have all the ingredients ready. If you are a fan of country chicken and do not want to eat this recipe with broiler chicken then ensure to select a country chicken that is not big in size so that the meat is tender. Frying the chicken for some extra time and also allowing the dal to boil for some time will do the wonder to the curry and you can alternate this village recipe with the country chicken as well. Many houses in certain towns and cities have an open courtyard or a terrace as well where people often light bonfire in the cold winter evenings. This recipe is perfect during the cold season and as this is a village cooking recipe there is nothing better than to cook the Mati Dali aru Mankho village recipe over wood fire. In this village recipe to be cooked at a town you do not need to pre boil the Mati Dali in a cooker and instead add it directly after soaking into the Kadhai after the meat is fried and go on adding water to allow the dal to cook until it is done.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Pura Gahori (Pork roasted over fire) recipe of the village cooking of Assam

Another popular version of this recipe of Mati Dali (especially with the pork meat) is the Mati Dali aru Gahori Mankho Khar. Khar is one of the premier foods of the village cuisine of Assam and it is an ingredient that is derived from the burning the bark and stem of the banana tree. The burnt ash is collected and kept in a bottle for later use and whenever any dish or curry is prepared that requires the use of this Khar of Assamese village cooking, an amount of this black Khar is taken and mixed with water and the contents are put in a piece of cloth and the water that drips out of the cloth is collected and used for the village cooking process. This Khar is an alkaline ingredient and helps to clean the intestine naturally and is often had with raw papaya mixed with fish head and it is very tasty loaded with the health goodness of raw papaya (a fruit that has the goodness of preventing and curing dread diseases like malaria, dengue and even cancer) and it is a natural laxative that cures stomach ailments as well. The recipe of this raw papaya with fish head is very simple and the steps are:

  • Obtain Khar from the market
  • Peel, chop and cut the raw papaya pieces in to small size bits
  • Clean the fish head and marinate with salt and turmeric
  • Chop one onion and make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies
  • Clean and chop three leaves of the ginger plant. If you don’t have ginger leaf then use Naga dhania or green coriander
  • Fry the fish head in mustard oil and ensure that it look crunchy after you fry it
  • In the same oil add bay leaf, red chilli and temper Jeera seeds
  • Add the chopped onions and fry for a bit and add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste
  • Add salt and turmeric and add the chopped green papaya pieces and allow frying until the papaya melts. Keep adding little water to allow the papaya to melt. Add the Khar and allow to Sim for some time.
  • Add the fried fish head pieces to this and after a while top with the ginger plant leaves or the coriander and check for salt and this is ready. Another simple yet very delicious and healthy recipe of the fish head with raw papaya Khar viz. Maas Matha aru Omita Khar recipe.

Coming back to the Khar that is used in the Mati Dali recipe, when you are cooking the dal recipe with the pork meat then you can add a bit if this Khar to the dal after it is done boiling and the Khar would impart a unique taste to the curry and also help in the benefit of the laxative properties. But always be reminded that the Khar is alkaline in nature and so you should not eat anything acidic like lime after this meal.

The use of Khar is not very prominent among the Mishing people but the other tribes of Assam like the Bodo and Karbi people who inhabit the Baksa and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam are fond of adding Khar to their cuisine. The Bodo people also have a village cuisine that is similar to the other tribes of Assam but they cook it in a different way as their way of staying is different. The Bodos inhabit the forest areas of Assam and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Manas National Park that has some of the most pristine forest pockets in India has a sizeable population of the Bodo people. The Bodo people believe in eating things that are grown naturally around them and they have the knowledge of the usage of the correct plants to be eaten as food. They do not shy away from eating bugs, snails, rats that infest their agricultural fields or even the intestine of pig that they use to prepare some ethnic tribal cuisine after cleaning it properly and mixing it with various herbs to prepare a delicious meal. Khar is a primary food of the Bodo people and they add a few drops of this miracle ingredient in various recipes of village cooking of the Assamese cuisine. The use of Mati Dali is prominent in a dish they cook with fresh water snails that is found in abundance in the fields during the rainy season.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Preparing the local rice wine of the Bodo people in the village cooking of Assam

These fresh water snails (Hamuk) feed on mud and so elaborate cleaning is needed to be done before their consumption. What the Bodo people do is they gather these snails from the ponds or fields and you need to have a decent collection to feed a family and put these snails in a large bucket of water. As the snails consume the water they excrete the mud out and so this process needs a couple of days and the water has to be changed frequently. Once the snails are clean after two days the cooking process begins and is it prepared in a simple way like we cook the Mati Dali and instead of adding the meat the snails are added and the dal is cooked to be topped with a lot of ginger leaves. This recipe of Mati Dali and Hamuk (snail) is to be done over wood fire and the firewood smoke imparts a unique flavour to the curry. Similarly the Bodo people prepare various other recipes with meat and fish and another very important accompaniment they have with their food is the dried fish chutney. The Bodo people often eat this fish chutney recipe and when they go out fishing in the ponds and lakes they put out the traditional Assamese fish trap built with bamboo that is called as the Sepa. And this is a unique fish trap as it has a narrow opening and no outlet so once a fish passes along with the water into the Sepa they get trapped and can’t come out.

Small fishes who wander in herds often get trapped inside the Sepa and the bigger fishes that predate on these smaller ones get inside the trap and get caught. This unique way of fishing is good for the ecology of the water system as well because the young ones do not get caught and are able to come out of the trap so that there is scope for revival of the population of the fish in the pond. In the morning the local Bodo people come to pick up the Sepa and along with the catch (mostly eel like fish is caught that is locally called as Kusia) along with smaller fishes they catch and they take these along to their homes. The Kusia is a fish that is loaded with iron and it is very good for the human blood. The Kusia is prepared by first cleaning the fish that is an elaborate process and one has to first remove the skin of the fish at one go and it is said that to reap the health benefits of the fish the blood has to be retained in the body of the fish so one has to chop the fish into smaller pieces and keep the blood. Later boil a potato and mash it and cook the fish simple by frying the onion and tomato and ensure to add ground black pepper corns to cook very aromatic and mineral rich gravy.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Drying of fish is a popular practice in the village cooking of Assam

The small fishes are allowed to dry in the sun for a few days by spreading them out and later stored for consumption later. This dried fish chutney is a very flavourful one to eat on a condition you have to brave the smell that it emits once it is fried. Unlike the dried fishes from the sea area that come mixed with salt due to the salty water, this dry fish recipe doesn’t contain salt and so it emits a strong smell. To prepare this village cuisine chutney take a few dry fishes and roast them in some mustard oil on high heat. Peel a few garlic pods and fry them in the same oil or you can add them raw as well. In a stone/metal grinder mix the fish, the fried garlic pods, green chillies, coriander and some salt and pound the mixture until it turns into a paste. This dried fish chutney is a must to be spicy and so the green chillies added needs to be a generous amount. This is a perfect accompaniment with a meal and the Bodo people eat a sufficient quantity of rice with less curry and this chutney. The alcoholic beverage of the Bodo people is called as the ‘Jou’ and this too is brewed from rice. It is an elaborate process in the preparation of this wine and three large vessels are needed to prepare this with one vessel having a small hole that allows connecting a nozzle that allows the droplets of the rice wine to be collected in bottles.

The local village grown rice is used to prepare this rice wine by allowing it to ferment for about four to five days mixed with various herbs and other organic plants. Once the rice is fermented a fire is lit and the vessel containing the fermented rice is placed over a wood fire and another vessel is placed on top of it and one vessel with cold water placed on top to allow the rapid condensation process. The fire allows the fermented rice to vaporize that is collected in the form of droplets on the second pot and the liquid trickles out of the nozzle into a bottle. The end result is a strong alcoholic beverage brewed with rice and this is savoured with Pura Gahori (Roasted pork meat). One of the favourite village recipe starters with alcohol, the Gahori Pura (Pork roast) is very simple to prepare. Pork meat is first cleaned or also boiled in salt water and turmeric to get rid of any traces of bacteria and cut into smaller chunks. These meat pieces are pierced into a bamboo skewer and allowed to roast directly over the fire. The skewer has to be rotated occasionally to prevent the meat and fat from charring. Once it is done the meat pieces are removed on a plate and mixed with chopped onions, chillies, coriander leaves and salt and this is the Gahori Pura (pork roast) village recipe of Assamese cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
The Pura Mangho served with local rice wine in the village cooking of Assam

Another ingredient that the village cooking of the Bodo people in the Assamese cuisine which important is the Kosu (Taro) stem, Kosu Root and sometimes the leaf as well. Kosu (Taro) is a wild growing tropical plant and it is to be seen growing in the low lying areas where there is sufficient quantity of water. Not only the Bodo people but the various indigenous people of Assam inculcate the use of Kosu (Taro) in their tribal cuisine. The Kosu plants offer the stem as a vegetable that is rich in vitamins A and C and also potassium and various other ingredients that are good for the body health and can act to prevent various diseases, promote heart health, etc. The entire part of the plant is edible from the leaves, the stem and the root as well and each part of the Kosu plant has certain health benefits that are used to prepare various culinary delights in the village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine. The tribal people go out in groups to the forest pockets to gather this plant and as there is a specific need to boil the leaves and stem before its consumption a sufficient quantity of this Kosu (Taro) plant have to be gathered to get a sufficient quantity to feed a family. As water source is important for the growth of the Taro plants it is found growing near the streams, the places near houses that have stagnant water and by the lakes and ponds in a village.

The root of the Taro plant is very rich in fibre nutrient and is often cooked with fish and even chicken. But the most flavourful is the stem and the young leaves of the Taro plant an once the local Bodo people have collected sufficient amount of the Taro plant they get it back to their home and begin the preparations of a meal by at first cleaning the stem of the Taro plant. The stem has a black colour skin that needs to be pulled out with a knife at first so that the fleshy stem is revealed. Next the stem is chopped in small pieces and the young tender leaves that are along the sides of the stem are used for cooking. This is because the Kosu leaf of certain species is poisonous and a lot of boiling needs to be done to get rid of the compounds from the leaves and so it is better not use the leaf in the village cooking of Assamese cuisine. A simple tribal cuisine village recipe of cooking Kosu Thati (Taro Stem) with Gahori Mankho (Pork meat) is mentioned below:

Ingredients:

Kosu Thari (Taro stem):                                                 5 Nos.

Pork meat (Gahori Mankho):                      300 gms

Jari Pat:                                                                                A bunch

Ginger and Garlic Paste                                 freshly pounded

Green chillies                                                     6 nos

Bay leaf                                                                                2 nos

Red Chillies                                                         2 nos

Salt and turmeric                                              As per taste

Ginger leaves                                                    3 leaves

Tomato and Onion                                          1 nos each chopped

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A simple recipe of fish cooked with Kosu stem and leaves (Taro stem and leaves) in the village cuisine of Assam

Step 1: Clean and chop the Kosu stem into small pieces. Boil them in sufficient water with some salt to get rid of the itchy property on the throat

Step 2: Boil the pork meat in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles with salt and turmeric. Discard the water to remove any bacteria from the meat

Step 3: Chop the onions and tomatoes and slit the green chillies into half

Step 4: Prepare the paste of ginger and garlic

Step 5: Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot add the bay leaf and the red chillies. Later add the onions and fry for sometime

Step 6: Add the ginger garlic paste and continue to stir and fry for some more time

Step 7: After 15 minutes add the Kosu (Taro) stems that was boiled and also the Jari pat to the mixture and keep frying

Step 8: The Kosu thari will melt and lose its solid structure after sometime and this is when you add little hot water to the curry

Step 9: After about 10 minutes of more frying add the ginger leaves by breaking them into small pieces with your hands. Another 5 minutes of cooking on low steam and the Kosu Thari logot Gahori Mankho (Taro stem with Pork) is ready to be served.

This is a very simple recipe and is one of the very tasty dishes of the village cooking in Assamese cuisine. The flavours of this curry enhances when cooked over wood fire as the steam adds a smoky flavour to the dish as well. Not only pork you can also add fish or chicken to this recipe to make a curry with flavour but pork meat is top of its class. The Kosu thari aru Maas (Taro stem and fish recipe) is cooked in a similar manner only the fish is to be deep fried at first so that it becomes crunchy and this will not allow the fish to break into pieces when you add it to the curry and fry it for the required duration. If you use chicken instead of pork or fish ensure to add a bit of grounded Jeera (cumin) seeds to get rid of the poultry smell. This village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine doesn’t make much of gravy and so the Bodo people also make another side dish along with it. As the village cooking requires this to be cooked over wood fire so in the burning fire they toss in a few potatoes and a brinjal and allow these to roast over the fire (not directly in the fire) but the burnt wood leaves small amount of ash and this warmth is enough not to allow the potato and brinjal to burn. The brinjal is at first stuffed with mustard oil and a knife is used to cut in holes inside the flesh of the brinjal. Once the potatoes and brinjal are roasted they are brought out of the fire and after the two cool down the skin that is half burnt is peeled out and the flesh of the vegetables are taken on a plate and mashed up together. Chop an onion and some green chillies and green coriander. Mix all of these together and top it with some salt. Thus ready is another flavourful village cooking dish of Assamese cuisine called as the Begena (brinjal) Aalu (potato) pitika. The smoky flavour and the aroma of the fresh coriander in this recipe is one of the most flavourful food of the village cuisine of Assam. Thus this meal will have rice, the Kosu thari logot Gahori (pork cooked with Taro stems), the pura bengena aru Aalu pitika and off course the dried fish chutney. A few glass of the rice wine served with Gahori pura and later this meal is what makes a winter evening pleasant  in the villages of Assam and a village recipe that is loaded with nutrients for the human body.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Few of the roasted mashed vegetables recipe of the village cooking of Assam

Another very popular jungle plant that is eaten in the village cuisine of Assam is the Dhekia or the Fiddle Head fern. Known to grow inside a jungle area this is a very nutritious plant loaded with antioxidants, iron, fibre and omega fatty acids that is needed for the overall development of the human body and boost immunity to fight against pathogens. In the villages of Assam you can find these Dhekia Xaak (fiddle head ferns) growing at the backyard of the houses of the village folks and all you need to do is go and pluck them from these homes and bring them to the kitchen to cook it. The first thing is to chop these fiddle head ferns or Dhekia Xaak into tiny bits and this is an art that is be done with bare hands. Just break the Dhekia Xaak into smaller pieces and towards the end of the stem discard the piece left. A think bunch of the Dhekia Xaak is necessary otherwise it won’t be sufficient to feed the family. To increase the quantity often a potato is taken and sliced into then pieces and mixed with the Dhekia Xaak and this is called as the Dhekia Xaak aru Aalu Bhaji (Fiddle head fern and potato fry).

After you cut and make ready the Dhekia Xaak and potatoes take half of an onion and chop it into thin slices. Take a few pods of garlic and peel them and chop them into thin pieces. Heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Put a red chilly to the hot oil and add the garlic and later the onions. Fry for some time and throw in the mixture of the chopped Dhekia Xaak and Aalu and top with some salt and turmeric. Fry the content for 10 minutes and your Dhekia Xaak and Aalu Bhaji (Fiddle head fern and Potato fry) is ready to eat. There is another very flavourful recipe of the Dhekia Xaak and this is called as the Dhekia Xaak aru Maas Matha Dali logot (Fiddle head fern with fish head and lentil). For this village cooking recipe of Assamese cuisine follow these steps:

  1. Clean the fish head and mix with some salt and turmeric
  2. In a pressure cooker take Masoor Dal (red lentil) and boil with salt and turmeric and half of a tomato for three whistles. Allow the whistle to go out on its own and open the cooker and mash the dal
  3. Chop the Dhekia Xaak as mentioned earlier with hands
  4. Chop onions and garlic
  5. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish head at first and remove the pieces. In the same oil temper it with a bay leaf, red chillies and paanch phuron.
  6. Add the garlic and onions and fry for some time and add the Dhekia Xaak to it
  7. After frying for some time add the dal into the Kadhai and bring it to a boil
  8. Put the fish head in the dal and allow simmering for 10 minutes and letting the flavour of the fish head mix with the curry. The Dhekia Xaak aru Maas Matha Dali is ready to be served and enjoyed with rice.
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fish head cooked with Dal in the village cooking recipes of Assam

The fish head can be used to prepare another very favourite village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine and it is called as Mogu Dali logot Masor Matha (Yellow lentil and fish head). A comfort food in the village cooking a very simple recipe yet a delicious meal to have with rice is the Masor Matha aru Mogu Dali. A simple village cooking recipe of the same is mentioned below:

  • At first, take about a cup of Mogu Dali and heat up a Kadhai. Simply dry fry the dal on the hot Kadhai and do so until the dal turns to change colour from yellow to a light red. Turn off the gas and let the dal to cool on its own.
  • Chop an onion, tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic and slit a few green chillies and coriander as well.
  • Take the fish head and clean it properly and mix it with some salt and turmeric and keep aside
  • Clean the Mogu Dali with water after it is cooled down and put it in a pressure cooker with adequate water and pressure cook for about 3 -4 whistles. Let the whistle release on its own
  • Heat the Kadhai again and put some mustard oil and at first fry the fish head (deep fry) and keep is aside
  • In the same oil temper it with two bay leaves, 2 red chillies and some paanch phuron and add the onions and fry for some time
  • Next add the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and add salt and turmeric
  • Fry the tomatoes along with the mixture in the Kadhai until the tomatoes melt
  • Add the boiled Mogu Dali to the Kadhai and allow it to come to a boil
  • After the dal is coiling lower the gas and add the fish head and allow to cook for a while so the flavour of the fish head mixes with the dal
  • Top it up with some green coriander and the Masor Matha aru Mogu Dali (Fish head with yellow dal) is ready to be savoured with hot rice

One very interesting village recipe the Bodo people eat in the monsoon season is the fresh water crabs. These crabs comes out of the mud in the monsoon season and fill the lakes, ponds and the agricultural fields and the monsoon is a time to enjoy this delicacy. There are two ways to prepare the crab in the village cooking style of the Assamese cuisine of Bodo people

  1. The Spicy Crab (kekura) chutney
  2. Crab with Roselle leaves (Kekura aru Meseka tenga bhaja)

Perhaps the only difficult part in preparing both these delicacies is cleaning up the crab because these creatures have sharp claws on their tentacles and one has to be careful while cleaning them up. These river crabs have a soft shell and one can easily chew through these shells of these crustacean species. Once you have them cleaned up you can start at first by preparing the crab chutney in a village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine:

  • Keep the cleaned crab soaked in water for some time to remove traces of mud from its body
  • Peel few garlic pods and slit the green chillies into two to fit in the stone/metal pounder
  • Chop a bunch of coriander leaves and put in in the pounder
  • Heat up some mustard oil and fry the garlic pods in the oil and remove it and put in the pounder
  • In the same oil fry the crab pieces and remove them and put in the pounder
  • Add some salt and pound together the crab, green chillies, coriander, garlic and the crab chutney (kekura chuntey) is ready to be had with your meal
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
The Bhut Jolokia or Ghost pepper is an important ingredient in various village cooking recipes of Assam

The Kekura aru Meseka tenga (crab with Roselle leaves) is also a simple village cooking recipe to prepare and tastes very wonderful with the rice wine or any wine. It goes will with the meal as well and the Roselle leaves have a sour taste that keeps the body cool during the summer season and has loads of health benefits as well. The simple recipe of preparing kekura aru meseka tenga is as below:

  • Take mustard oil in a Kadhai and heat the oul
  • Put some garlic pods into the hot oil along with a red chilli and put in onions
  • Put the green chillies and the Roselle leaves and fry for some time add little salt and turmeric
  • Add the crabs and fry for some time till you see the crab absorbing the colour of the Roselle leaves and the Kekura aru Meseka tenga bhaja is ready to be had with either rice wine or your meal as well

Food with wine is also a customary ritual among the tribes who make village cooking with various meat recipes a delight. Among the Bodo people one very delicious village cooking recipe is the silkworm with Roselle leaves fry. Silkworms are found in abundance in the remote villages of the Baksa district of Assam and it is a delight among the local Bodo people who take this village cooking recipe to the next level. Again these silk worms are fried with the Meseka tenga (Roselle) leaves and tastes very unique somewhat like prawns because of the soft muscle texture. Weaving of handloom is an important occupation among the Bodo people and the Bodo women are expert weavers and weave out some of the very exquisite silk Mekhela Chadors of Assam. The ‘Dokhona’ worn by the Bodo women is one of the finest qualities of hand woven fabric one can find in the World. Even at Sualkuchi – the Manchester of the East that is renowned across the World for its exquisite silk handloom products employs most of the Bodo women as the artists. To weave out silk they need the silk worms that form a cocoon that provide the silk. While some are reared for the silk some are used to prepare a favourite village cooking snack viz. the Silkworm with Roselle leaves fry (Polu aru Meseka tenga bhaja). To prepare this recipe clean the silkworms (Polu) properly in water. This is a clean worm as it feeds only on mulberry leaves and hence it absorbs most of the nutrients of the plant and is packed with proteins as well. Simply heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and put some onions nad green chillies for frying. Add the Mesega Tenga leaves and a few garlic pods chopped and fry for some time and put in the Polu (silk worms) and toss some salt and turmeric. Fry for some time and the Polu aru Meseka tenga bhaja viz. Silk worms and Roselle leaves is ready to be had with rice wine or your meal.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Local chicken curry and fish fry recipe of the village cooking of Assam

Another simple food that goes well with rice wine is the Gahori Bhaja (Pork dry fry). Very simple to prepare at first boil the pork in water topped with little salt and turmeric. After it is done boiling discard the water and chop the meat and fat into smaller pieces. Chop an onion and a tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Chop green chillies and a bunch of coriander leaves. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the onions and the ginger garlic paste and add the green chillies. Add the pork and let the meat fry on the pork fat itself. Occasionally add water to prevent the meat from sticking on the Kadhai. Put the tomatoes after the meat has fried up for some time and allow the tomatoes to melt over the meat. Add some salt and turmeric as per taste and once done top with coriander leaves and your Gahori Bhaja (pork meat dry fry) is ready to be savoured with the rice wine. If you do not want to fry in oil then you can simple put the pork meat on a bamboo skewer and roast it over the fire directly. This will yield a crunchy meat and this is called as the Gahori Khorika (Pork Barbecue stick) and a favoured snack recipe in the village cooking of Assamese cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Khorika or meat cooker over fire using bamboo skewers is another important village cooking recipes of Assam

Another very popular main course recipe among the Bodo people is the Kosu aru Maas Anja viz. Taro root and fish curry. We have already used the Taro stem in various recipes of the village cooking of Assam but the root of the Kosu plant is another delicacy and a tasty and nutritious food as well. Rich in fibre content the Kosu root is cooked with fish and small potatoes (Guti Aalu) and it turns out to be a very delicious recipe. To prepare the Kosu aru Guti Aalu logot Maas Anja viz. Taro Root and small potatoes fish curry you will need freshwater fish (preferably Rohu fish or any small fish species like the Bhangun Maas).

  • Take half of the Kosu (Taro root) and peel the skin of the root and soak the small potatoes in water to get rid of the mud. Ensure to clean the skin properly because we will not peel out the skin as the skin of these potatoes contain fibre and imparts a good taste to the curry as well
  • Chop the Taro root (Kosu) into small pieces as this will help to cook the root faster. You will need to add something sour to the dish as the Taro root might cause itching sensation in the throat sometimes (especially if you have plucked the root after rain) and for this a tomato should suffice
  • Clean the fish and rub salt and turmeric on it before you fry it to get rid of the fish smell. Many tribal people in the village cooking recipe often add the fish raw to the curry and if you would like to do this then ensure to clean the fish with turmeric properly
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic and slit the green chillies
  • Heat the mustard oil and fry the fish pieces (deep fry) and in the same oil temper with bay leaf, red chillies and paanch phuron
  • Fry the onions and the ginger garlic paste and add the salt and turmeric
  • Add the Kosu (Taro root) and the small potatoes (Guti Aalu) and cover with a lid and allow to cook in low heat
  • Add little water to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the Kadhai
  • After 15 minutes add the tomato and fry for 10 minute and later add water to the curry
  • Add the fish once it comes to a boil and allow to simmer for some time and garnish with coriander and your Kosu aru Guti Aalu logot Maas Anja is ready to serve with dinner

Another very important ingredient vegetable used in the Bodo cuisine is the pumpkin. A very nutritious vegetable, the Bodo people prepare various cuisines with the pumpkin flesh and the pumpkin skin as well. One very common recipe is the Ronga Lau (Pumpkin) aru Maas (Fish) Anja (Curry). This is a very simple recipe again and you can prepare it easily at your house. However in the village cooking style of Assamese cuisine it is cooked over wood fire and takes little time to cook because one has to allow the pumpkin (Ronga Lau) pieces to melt while frying in a Kadhai. Although the skin of the pumpkin might seem very difficult to cut with a knife but once you cook it melts along with the curry. The skin of the pumpkin can be sued to make another very popular dish along with chana (Bengal gram/chickpea) so the local Bodo people in their village cooking peel the skin and prepare a different fry out of it while the flesh is used to prepare the Ronga Lau aru Maas Anja viz. Pumpkin and fish curry. A simple recipe to prepare this curry is as mentioned below:

  • Take a slice of the pumpkin (1/6th) of the vegetable and peel the skin and keep it for later use to prepare another dish. Also peel a potato and chop both these vegetables and put them in a pressure cooker with adequate water and allow whistling for 4-5 whistles. Let the whistle blow out on its own and mash the pumpkin and potatoes
  • Slice an onion, slit green chillies, chop a tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • Marinate the fish (any fresh water fish) with salt and turmeric and keep aside for a while
  • Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up completely and lower the gas flame and fry the fish in oil and keep it aside
  • Temper the hot oil with bay leaf, red chillies and paanch phuron
  • Fry the onion and the ginger garlic paste and add salt and turmeric
  • Put in the chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomato becomes mushy
  • Pour the contents of the pressure cooker viz. the mashed potatoes and pumpkin into the Kadhai and let the curry come to a boil
  • Add in the fish pieces and allow simmering for some time and top with chopped coriander. Your Ronga Lau aru Mass Anja (Fish curry with pumpkin ) is ready to be served with rice
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fish cooked with mashed pumpkin (Ronga Lau) is a nutritious village cooking recipe of Assam

As far as the skin of the pumpkin goes, cut them into long strips. Chop a potato into similar size pieces and soak in the Bengal gram earlier for about (5 hours) in clean water. Chop onions and heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and add a red chilli and put in the onions and some chopped garlic cloves and fry for some time. Put the Bengal gram in the Kadhai and later add the chopped pumpkin skin and potatoes to the Kadhai. Fry until the potatoes are tender and your Ronga Lau Bakoli aru But Bhaja (Pumpkin skin fry with Bengal gram) is ready to be served.

Another comfort food that is prepared at my home by my mother that is loaded with the goodness of the pumpkin, soya bean and pointed gourd (potol) is the Ronga lau aru potol aru soya bean bhaji. This sabji is loaded with the health goodness of the pumpkin and the pointed gourd and also the protein content of the soya beans that is often called as the poor man’s chicken in Assam because a packet of these soya bean chunks cost only INR 10 and it resembles the meat of chicken. The dish is prepared by at first chopping the pumpkin into small pieces after cutting away the skin of the vegetables and also chops the pointed gourd into smaller pieces as well. Soak the soya bean chunks in warm water for some time and later fry the bay leaf in hot mustard oil in a Kadhai and add a red chilly while frying. Now fry the onions and add few chopped garlic pods as well. Add together the pumpkin and pointed gourd (potol) in the Kadhai and fry for some time and later add the soya bean chunks into the mixture. The pumpkin will turn mushy after a while and your Ronga lau, potol aru soya bean sabji is ready to be served with rice.

A magic herb called as Mani Muni (Indian pennyworth) is used across the preparations of various fish recipes and it can be found growing in the gardens as a wild plant. This magic herb is rich in various nutrients and anti-oxidants and is good for the human brain as well. The simplest way to eat the mani muni xaak is by making a paste by grinding it and add water to make a curry added with fish and it gives a wonderful tasty curry. Other leafy vegetables in the diet of the village cooking of Assamese cuisine are the Paleng xaak and Lai xaak. While the Paleng xaak is cooked with fish, the Lai xaak is cooked with pork. To prepare the Paleng Xaak aru Masor Jul at first boil the Paleng leaves in water to soften the leaves of the herb. Heat oil in a Kadhai and fry some onions, add ginger garlic paste and add the Paleng xaak into it. Let the leaves of the herb melt and add water to make gravy and add in a mashed boiled potato. Once the curry comes to a boil add in the fried fish pieces and the Paleng xaak aru Masor Jul is ready to be served.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fish cooked with penny worth and Curry leaves in the village cooking of Assam

The Lai Xaak (Mustard greens) is another leafy vegetable very common in the Assamese cuisine and it is available in plenty in the winter season and the village cooking involves a lots of recipe of the Lai Xaak with either fish, pork or even just with potatoes. The most popular is the Lai Xaak aru Gahori (Pork with Mustard greens) and it gets even tastier when you use smoked pork to cook this. Fry the onions in mustard oil along with garlic and ginger paste and put in the chopped Lai xaak into the Kadhai. Fry for some time and add the pork pieces to the Kadhai and add salt and turmeric. After frying for some time once the pork releases the fat from the meat your Lai xaak aru Gahori is ready to serve.

The Lai Xaak aru Aalu boil is yet another very simple recipe to cook and you will need to chop the potatoes into small pieces and boiling them in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles and you can add the Lai Xaak into the cooker as well. Once you open the cooker you will find the Lai Xaak and potatoes have softened and keep it aside. In a Kadhai heat mustard oil and temper with a red chilli and add onions and chopped garlic cloves into the Kadhai. Add the boiled potatoes and the Lai Xaak and add some salt and your Lai Xaak aru Aalu recipe is ready to be served with rice.

Another very popular herb used in the village cooking of Assamese cuisine is the Mati Kanduri Xaak (Sessile Joyweed) that is packed with nutrients and the village folks often consume it as it said to be diuretic, beneficial to the eyes and hair, helps in curing fever, night blindness, leprosy and overall help in digestion of the human body. The Mati Kanduri Xaak is boiled as a recipe and you can add small fishes to the curry to make the soup very flavourful. For this you will need a bunch of this mati Kanduri Xaak and mix it in a grinder to make a fine paste. You can also add the mani muni xaak to this recipe as well as both these xaak will provide some of the best nutrients to your body. Take mustard oil and heat up oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish in it. Later add onions in it and a few pieces of chopped garlic and fry for some time. Add some salt to this and then add the ground leaves of Mati  Kanduri and Mani muni and let it come to a boil and top it with the fish and ground pepper to it. This also goes well with local chicken (country chicken) and a few other herbs like Bilomoni, Mansenga and Pipoli. Boil these entire herb together in water to get a juice out of it. Put the pieces of local chicken (local kukura) in it and continue to boil until the meat is tender. Top with ground pepper and Naga dhania and you will have one of the most flavourful and healthy chicken soup recipes of the village cuisine of Assam.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Bhapot Dia Maas or fish cooked by wrapping in Banana leaf over fire is another important village cooking recipe of Assam

Another important recipe of the Lai Xaak is the Lai Xaak aru Aalu bhaja viz. Mustard greens and potato fry. A very simple to cook recipe that is even consumed in the villages of Punjab as well there it is called as Sarso Da Saag at their villages and it goes well with the Makai Di Roti. Punjab is known as a state that produces a lot of mustard and while they only use the edible leaves the flowers are used to prepare the mustard oil (which is not common in their diet) but the most popular edible oil across Eastern India especially the States of West Bengal and Assam. In Assam, the people in villages use mustard oil for all their cooking needs upto an extent that it is added raw to many of the mashed dishes called as the ‘Pitikas’ for e.g. The Aalu Pitika or the mashed potato that is one of the most comfortable food of the village cuisine of Assam where people boil a few potatoes and peel the skin out and mash it up. Chopped onions, salt, green chillies and coriander is added and then mixed thoroughly blended with hands and topped with mustard oil and it is the favourite accompaniment in the village cuisine. Sometimes a lemon is cut and the juice added on top of the Aalu pitika as well that helps to mask the raw flavour of the onions. The Lai Xaak aru Aalu bhaja is very simple to prepare where a bunch of these mustard greens are taken and cleaned properly with water and chopped into thin slits along with the potatoes. The mustard oil is heated up and a Kadhai and chopped onions are added followed by chopped garlic and green chillies. The mustard greens and potatoes are added to the Kadhai and the mix is fried until the potatoes are done and the very simple village cuisine of Lai Xaak aru Aalu bhaja is ready to eat.

The magic herb that is an integral part of the South Indian cuisine viz. the curry leaves and is added to the South Indian delicacies like sambar and rasam also finds an important place in the village cuisine of Assam as well. Though the curry leaves used in South Indian cuisine is mostly for their vegetarian preparations across the village cuisine of Assam, the curry leaves are used mostly to prepare curries with fish, chicken and pork along with certain other herbs. Mostly the Jari pat with which we had made a previous pork recipe of the village cuisine with the Kosu stem. To prepare the fish curry with the curry leaves (Norohingho pat) you will need to pluck the mature Norohingho leaves from the tree. The Norohingho is basically a shrub and not a big tree and you will find the tender and the mature leaves growing on the plant. While the tender leaves are light green in colour, the mature leaves get dark green in colour and it gives out a fantastic aroma when you squeeze the leaf with your fingers and smell it. Once you have the lunch of leaves ready take a grinder and put the leaves in the grinder and add some water and blend the leaves into a paste. This paste will be used to prepare the fish curry. Put the paste aside and chop an onion, tomatoes, slit a few green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Take local freshwater fish and mix with salt and turmeric and keep it aside. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish pieces in the hot oil and fry until the fish pieces turn golden brown. Keep the fish aside and in the same oil fry a red chilli and put in the onions and ginger garlic paste and fry for some time. Put salt and turmeric powder and later add the tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the paste of the curry (Norohingho leaves) and put water and bring to a boil. Add the fish pieces and simmer the curry for some time and your Norohingho aru Maas jul is ready to be served with white rice.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fish cooked with Curry leaves (Norohingho) is another important village cooked recipe of Assam

Now to prepare the village cooking of the Norohingho paat aru Gahori recipe (Pork with curry leaves) you will need to pluck the curry (Norohingho) curry leaves from the plant and also get the village ingredient herb of the Jari pat that is rich in various nutrients and has a very flavourful taste to it. Select the pork meat and it should be a mix of fat and meat and it is preferred to take the meat of the home raised pig and not the farm one to get the desired taste but any pork meat would work wonders with this village recipe. Ensure to boil the pork meat with little salt and turmeric as this will help to eliminate any traces of bacteria from the meat and discard the water. Next chop an onion and make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies. Pluck the Norohingho leaves from the stem and ensure to have single leaves for both the Norohingho and the Jari pat. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with a bay leaf and red chilli. Now add the onion and ginger garlic paste and fry for some time and later add the pork meat into the Kadhai. You have to fry the pork meat for some time to ensure that it is properly cooked. Later add the Norohingho and Jari pat to the meat and continue to fry for some time by adding little water occasionally so the meat doesn’t get stuck in the Kadhai. The end result will be a very flavourful meat recipe that is loaded with the nutrients of the Norohingho paat and the Jari pat. This will be a dry recipe and so it is best with rice wine.

To prepare the chicken follow the similar procedure with the Norohingho and Jari paat and if you are using country chicken then ensure to use a tender chicken or else it might take a long time to cook. If you are using broiler chicken then ensure to add little of jeera powder while frying the chicken to get rid of the bird odour.

Coming to another nutritious and antioxidant rice vegetable that is locally called as the ‘Sajina’ (Drumsticks) that is known as a vegetable that can survive in very dry conditions, the Sajina (Drumstick) has found a place to treat malnourishment in children and is a popular ingredient that is used in preparation of the mid-day meals that is served across thousands of schools across India. In the village cooking of Assamese cuisine, the Sajina or the drumstick vegetable has also found a place to create some amazing recipe. The Sajina or drumstick can be simple cleaned by peeling the skin of the vegetable and it can be used to prepare a recipe with dal. For this simply take masoor dal and clean it properly and put the dal into a pressure cooker and add a tomato slice and the cleaned Sajina drumsticks into the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 1 whistle. Ensure not to put more whistles as this will cause the Sajina (drumstick) to dissolve with the dal that is not desirable. Next after the pressure cooker releases the whistle on its own, open the lid and remove the boiled Sajina (drumstick) pieces from the dal. Mash the dal properly along with the tomato so that it is pulpy and keep it aside. Now chop half of an onion and a few garlic pods and coriander leaves. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with bay leaf, red chilli and paanch phuron and fry the onions and the garlic in the same oil after it fried and turns golden brown cover the gas and pour the contents of the pressure cooker in the Kadhai and allow the dal to come to a boil. Later add the Sajina sticks that were cooked earlier into the dal and top with coriander leaves. This is a very healthy dal recipe and the nutrients of the Sajina can be derived by chewing the Sajina sticks and throw out the husk that will remain left in your mouth and discard it.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
An assortment of traditional dishes with a Dal prepared with drumsticks from the village cooking of Assam

Another recipe to prepare with the Sajina is the Horioh aru Sajina that is drumstick cooked with mustard seeds. For this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisne at first clean and peel the Sajina sticks and keep it aside. Take mustard seeds and soak them in water for some time. Do not take too much quantity or it might turn the dish to a bitter taste. Blend the mustard seeds in a mixer grinder and ensure you have a smooth paste of it. Chop onions, garlic and tomatoes and heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai. Temper the oil with red chilli and paanch phuron and fry the onions and garlic and tomatoes. Add little salt and turmeric and add the chopped drumsticks in the Kadhai. Fry until the Sajina sticks become tender and add chopped thin slices of potato and fry for some time. Now add the mustard paste and put water and allow the curry to boil and the water to evaporate from the Kadhai. For faster evaporation ensure to put a lid on the Kadhai. After some time your Sajina and Horioh is ready to be served with hot rice and this is another favoured village recipe of Assam.

Other comfort food of the village cooking recipe of Assam are certain fried vegetables with potato like Bhendi aalu bhaja (ladies finger/okra and potato fry), Dangboti aalu bhaja (beans and potato fry), Gajor aru Aalu bhaja (carrot and potato fry), bengenea bhaja (brinjal fry), Aalu Bhaja (Potao fry), etc. Also another one common way of village cooking is to chop the vegetables into smaller pieces and make a bhaja recipe of all these various vegetable together called as Labra Bhaji (Carrots, small potatoes, Kosu root, pumpkin, brinjal, etc.). To prepare either one of the above village recipes you will need to take the vegetable of your choice say for e.g. for the Bhendi Aalu Bhaja (Okhra potato fry) you will need to take a few okra plants and a big size potato and clean the vegetables properly with water. Later chop them into smaller pieces and also chop half of an onion and a few garlic pods as well. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with a dried red chilli and put the onions and the garlic pieces in the Kadhai. Fry for some time and later add the chopped okra and potatoes together into the Kadhai. Fry for some time in medium heat and later add salt and turmeric and mix together properly and cover the Kadhai with a lid and put the gas stove on sim and aloe to fry for some more time. Once the potatoes have softened it means that the bhandi aalu bhaja is ready and you can turn off the gas.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
An assortment of dishes of various vegetable fried recipes of Assam from the village cooking recipes

Take same approach to prepare the recipe for the other vegetables as well and ensure that you clean the vegetables properly and later chop them up and fry them and always ensure to keep the gas in the Sim mode while frying the vegetables as this will help the vegetables not to burn. For the Labra sabji again you will need to chop up the vegetables into small pieces and clean them properly (take beans, carrot, brinjal, pumpkin, small potatoes and kosu root) to prepare the Labra bhaji. At first temper the hot mustard oil with bay leaf, red chilli and paanch phuron and ensure to add chopped onions and garlic. After the onion is fried add the vegetables into the Kadhai and fry for some time. Add salt, turmeric and jeera powder and continue frying until the potatoes have softened and for any such cuisine of the village cooking of Assam the best way to realize that the frying has been done is when the potatoes have been cooked as by this time all the other vegetables have been cooked as well.

Another major tribe of Assam are the Karbi people who inhabit the region of Karbi Anglong district of Assam. They also inhabit parts of Guwahati city and they have been primary people of the hills and forests and they too know about the various herbs and plants of the forest that can be used in traditional village cooking of Assam. The Karbi people too are non-vegetarians and they often rear the animal they consume at their homes and use the meat of these animals like country chicken, duck and pig. Since ages along with agriculture, the Karbi people have practices animal husbandry and fishing as their traditional occupation as well. However with the modern life the Karbi people have now engaged themselves in more recent occupations of government services, private jobs and business establishments as well but they have preserved their age old practices of food and they do not believe in consumption of the modern day fast foods and their food has to be prepared from scratch from selecting the right ingredients to following an elaborate process of cooking the final meal. I stay at a place that is dominated by the local Karbi people of Assam and I know many of the people and I have witnessed their food preparations in practice. For e.g. whenever some person invites me home for a meal they ensure to have all the ingredients fresh for the feast and they start the cooking process. The meal preparation day is selected on the day when a reared animal is slaughtered for its meat and close friends and family are invited over for local wine and meal in the afternoon which is preferable a Sunday. In the morning a member of the household visits the nearby forests and I have accompanied on one of such days and they pluck the various eatable herbs and leaves from the forests like Dhekia, Kosu Stem, Jari paat, Norohingho leaves, some other leafy forest grass and bring back to the house.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
The local Karbi Rice wine called as Poka prepared by distillation of fermented rice in the village cooking of Assam

After the leaves and plants are segregated it is decided as to which leaf will be used to cook what dish. The Karbi people rely on bamboo as a source of timber, food preparation vessel and even food of the bamboo shoot. Bamboo shoot is an important ingredient of the cuisine of the Karbi people because these people share a border with Nagaland and much of an influence on their food is from the cuisine of Nagaland as well. The Naga people consume a lot of bamboo shoot in their boiled recipes especially with pork and the Karbi people too have used bamboo shoot in their cooking techniques since times immemorial. The bamboo is used as a pitcher for cooking as well and this method of cooking is called as the ‘Sunga’ cooking wherein the content of the recipe are all mixed up and put inside the bamboo tube and thus a fire is lit and the contents are allowed to cook over the fire. Generous quantity of water is added in the bamboo tube and a long bamboo stick is used to stir the contents inside the hollow bamboo tube. Another way is to make an incision on the bamboo tube so that there is an opening on the top and the contents can be put inside the bamboo tube and the incision can be used as a lid as well. There is very ancient method of cooking in the forest and villages of Assam and the Karbi village people have preserved this style of cooking.

This natural way of cooking in bamboo tubes is good for health as you get the nutrition from the bamboo and also it imparts a unique flavour to the food cooked in it as well. The Karbi people in this village cooking method cook the various meats like pork and country chicken and even rice inside the bamboo and the word ‘Sunga’ is prefixed before the name of the dish meaning it has been cooked inside a bamboo tube. For example, if the pork has been cooked in this way it will be called as the ‘Sunga Gahori’ and similarly the rice cooked in this way is called as the ‘Sunga Bhat’. So once the preparations are ready they begin chopping up the ingredients and making arrangements to light the fore to cook the food inside the bamboo tubes. One example is a recipe using this bamboo tube is the Sungat dia Gahori Kosu logot:

  • Chop the pork meat into small pieces and clean it properly with salt and turmeric
  • Take a bamboo and chop it into 2 feet size and ensure that you select the bottom side as the closed one and on top the bamboo remains open
  • Chop onions, make a paste of ginger and garlic and slit a few green chillies
  • Clean the Kosu stem and the tender Kosu leaves and remove the top layer of the Kosu stem with a knife and boil the Kosu stem in water separately in a vessel and discard the water
  • Chop a tomato and the Jari Paat and take all the ingredients together and stuff it into the bamboo tube
  • Oil is not necessary for this village cooking recipe as the fat of the pork meat will be used to cook the meat along with water
  • Once you have the things stuffed inside the bamboo place the bamboo over the wood fire
  • Use a thin bamboo stick to be able to stir the contents of the mixture and this will ensure even cooking of the curry
  • Control the fire of the bamboo/wood as too much of heat might burn the dish and so ensure to control the heat while cooking
  • Pick out a piece of meat from inside the bamboo and check if it has become tender or not and also check for salt in the curry
  • If the meat has become tender that means the curry is ready to be served and you can handle the bamboo with a cloth and pour the contents onto a banana leaf and serve with white rice whose recipe is mentioned a little later
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Local Karbi people of Assam preparing a pork roast recipe in the village cooking of Assam

Banana is a very versatile plant and its fruit has various nutrients and is a wonder fruit that helps in curing of certain ailments and is tasty too. The banana leaf has a very good usage in the packaging and serving of food. In traditional South Indian cuisine, the food is always served on banana leaves as it is known to have certain healing properties and it is also an organic way of disposal as well. In certain cuisine of Assam, the banana leaf is used to wrap up the ingredients and it is allowed to roast in the burning fire (mostly the ash) and it gives a result of a very nice smoky flavour to the fish. One recipe that is commonly cooked in this way of the Patot dia Maas (Fish steamed inside banana leaf). For this small fishes (Mua) fish is used to be cooked. To prepare the patot dia maas, take some small fish and mix it with onions, crushed garlic and ginger, salt and turmeric and coriander leaves and pack it up in a banana leaf and put the contents of the leaf in the ashes of the burning fire and leave for about 20 minutes. The ash will smoke up the fish and once you open the banana leaf a very flavourful village cooking recipe of Patot dia Maas is ready to be had with your meal. The banana stem is also very nutritious and is used in certain village cooking recipes as well where it is called as the ‘Posola’. This is rich in nutrition and provides a very good taste as well. As far as health benefits go the banana stem is goof for preventing kidney stones, cholesterol, acidity, flushing toxins out of the body.

For this ‘Posola’ recipe you will need Bengal gram and green legume (But aru Mogu) and soak about a cup of these lentils in the water for about 3 hours until they turn soft.

  • Select the centre of the banana stems and peel away the outer skin as the outer skin is not tender and wont cook easily. Once you have the banana stem centre clean it properly and chip it into smaller pieces
  • Dried fishes add to the flavour of this ‘Posola’ recipe and take a few small dry fishes that have been dried locally and clean them properly with salt water
  • Check if the But and Mogu have softened and if done clean them again under water and chop up an onion, green chillies, garlic and coriander leaves.
  • Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper with dried red chilli and put the chopped onions, garlic and green chillies and fry for some time
  • Add the chopped Posola (Banana stem) and cover the Kadhai with a lid and lower the gas. This will ensure even cooking of the ‘Posola’. Add the dried fish and continue frying
  • After 10 minutes add the But and Mogu (Bengal gram and green legumes) and add salt and turmeric and continue to fry
  • Top with the tomato and after frying for 10 minutes add little water and continue to cook until the banana stem becomes mushy
  • Top with coriander leave and your Posola is ready to be served
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A traditional Karbi way of food preparations in bamboo over wood fire in the village cooking of Assam

Another easy Posola recipe is with small fishes and is called as Posola aru Horu Maas that is a very significant village cooking recipe. This dish is best prepared over wood fire in the villages of Assam.

  • For this again select the centre of the banana stem and chop It into smaller pieces and clean properly with water
  • Clean the fish and mix with salt and turmeric
  • Chop onions and make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai over the wood fire in the village cooking recipe
  • Temper the oil with red chillies and whole cumin (Jeera) seeds
  • Put the onions and ginger garlic paste and fry for some time and later add the small fish so that it too fries along with the onions
  • After some time put the chopped banana stem (Posola) and continue to fry for some time
  • Add water and allow the curry to simmer for a while in low heat until the water has evaporated and the Posola has become soft
  • Top with coriander and your Posola aru Maas is ready to be served

This recipe goes very well with the banana flower recipe. Another edible part of the banana plant is the flower of the plant that is another very tasty vegetable and is loaded with minerals. For this village cooking recipe of Assam you will need to select a nice banana flower called as the ‘Kol Phul’ and bring it to the kitchen. It is best to mix and egg with this recipe or else in case you do not prefer an egg it can be simple fried and enjoyed as well. Chopping the banana flower is an art and you have to ensure to cut it into fine sized pieces after pulling out the outer skin of the banana flower. A very simple to fry recipe after you have made thin slices of the banana flower (Kol Phul), chop an onion and green chillies and garlic cloves. Heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with a bay leaf and red chillies. The aroma of the bay leaf has to be dominant in this dish and so ensure you add a big sized leaf or two leaves. Add the onions, garlic and green chillies and fry for some more time and later fry an egg in the oil. If you do not want to use and egg just put the chopped banana flowers (Kol Phul) in the Kadhai and fry for some time and your Banana flower fry (Kol Phul Bhaji) is ready to be had with rice.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Roast pork served with rice wine in the Mishing cuisine of the Assamese cuisine

Thus we see that we have used the entire part of the banana plant from its stem, flower, and fruit to make recipes. We have used the banana leaf to stem fishes and even serve the food that is prepared and no wonder the banana tree is a diverse plant and is a necessary plant in every village household of Assam.

Coming back to the cooking in the village style recipe of the Karbi people, the ‘Sunga Gahori’ viz. Pork cooked in bamboo tube was ready and now to prepare another recipe of Chicken with rice flour in the bamboo tube (Pitha Guri aru Kukura Mankho recipe). Another very delicious village cooking recipe, the chicken used to prepare this recipe is a country chicken but you can also use broiler chicken but the flavour is much more with the country chicken as the rice flour brings a unique flavour to the meat

  • Select a tender country chicken and clean the meat and chop it into smaller pieces so that the chicken cooks quickly. Large meat pieces will take time to cook and become tender and absorb the flavour of the rice flour
  • Ensure to mix everything together in a bowl before your stuff inside the bamboo tube and take a large bowl to mix up everything
  • Chop onions, ginger and garlic paste, green chillies, tomato and the rice flour (Pitha guri) and pour mustard oil in the mixture and begin preparations to stuff inside the bamboo tube
  • At first let the meat cook with the oil and water will be added later
  • Once you put the bamboo over the fire ensure to lower the fire or else the cooking process will quicken up and the meat might not get cooked properly
  • The art of cooking country chicken is on low heat then the fibre of the meat cooks perfectly and if the country chicken is not cooked properly it becomes very difficult to chew through it although the gravy is one of the tastiest
  • After you see that the cooking process has started and bubbles are oozing from the mixture then add the water and now mix the curry inside the bamboo tube with a thin bamboo stick
  • Allow the mixture to cook inside the bamboo tube for about half an hour under controlled fire and later check on a chicken piece if it has become tender or not. If the chicken piece is tender that means the curry is done and your ‘Sungat dia Kukur Mankho is ready to be served

The ‘Sungat dia Bhat’ or rice cooked in a bamboo tube is yet another delicacy cooked by the Karbi people of Assam in their village cooking recipe and it provides a wonderful aroma to the simple dish of white rice cooked in the bamboo tube. For this recipe you will need to take local rice that has been grown in the villages of Assam and it will have a slight sticky texture once it is cooked. Take adequate rice for the number of people and soak this rice in water for about an hour. This will help to soften the rice and you will find the rice cooks quicker if you follow this step. Stuff the bamboo tube with the rice and add adequate water and put the bamboo tube over the fire. Close the open end of the bamboo with banana leaves and allow the rice to soak in the water and your ‘Sunga Bhat’ is ready to be served.

One important ingredient not only among the Mishing tribe of Assam but across the other tribal people of well is the bamboo shoot. As North East India is a region where bamboo growth is found in abundance, the earlier indigenous people found a unique culinary benefit of these bamboo shoots apart from the regular use of bamboo in timber. Bamboo shoot has been considered as a very nutritious source of food and it is believed to protect people against heart diseases, stomach disorders, and treatment of ulcers, wound cleanser, cure for poising, and protection from cancer and even help to keep a person’s weight under control. Locally is it called as the ‘Baah Gaaj’ or ‘Khorisa’ and is very popular across the village cuisine of Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. There are various recipes that can be made out of the bamboo shoot like cooked with pork and rice flour and even preparing pickles of the bamboo shoot along with the famous Bhut Jolokia of Assam or the Naga King chilli of Nagaland. The pickles help to retain the properties of the bamboo shoot for a long time in severe weather conditions as well. To prepare the recipe of Pork with bamboo shoot you will need to ensure to get fresh bamboo shoot and the indigenous Karbi people of Assam are well aware to select this part of the bamboo and use it in their cuisine. However since it is not possible for city dwellers to visit a local forest and select the bamboo shoot you can also buy this ingredient from the market or order it online. Available in small pouches they can be stored in the refrigerator and used for a long shelf life as well.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Preparation of the sticky rice stuffed in bamboo in the Assamese cuisine
  • Take about 300 gm. of pork and boil it in a pressure cooker along with salt and turmeric for about 3-4 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to rest and release the whistle on its own and dispose the water
  • Chop onions, slit green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Also select the small tomatoes (Kon Bilahi) as this provides a unique flavour to the dish. Keep them soaked in water for some time and pluck fresh ginger leaves to be added to the pork with bamboo shoot curry
  • Heat little mustard oil in a Kadhai and let the oil heat up fully. Fry in the onions and add the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry for sometime
  • Add salt and turmeric powder and mix properly and add the small tomatoes (Kon Bilahi) and continue to fry for some time
  • Add the pork into the Kadhai and fry properly until you see the pork fat releasing it oil
  • Add the bamboo shoot to the curry and fry for some time. Later add water to the curry and bring to a boil
  • When the curry is boiling you will need to add the rice flour (Saul Gudi) and while adding you have to constantly stir the curry otherwise it will form lumps in the curry that is not desirable
  • Continue to boil the pork with bamboo shoot curry for some time and later check for salt and add the ginger leaves to the curry. Your recipe of Pork with Bamboo shoot (Baah Gaah aru Gahori/Gahori Khorisa logot) is ready to be savoured with white rice

Another very favoured recipe of the Karbi people of Assam is the Gahori Nari or the pork intestine recipe. Though it might sound weird to many people as to why people eat the intestines of pork as it is believed to feed on garbage but to be rest assured that these intestines are cleaned and washed thoroughly before the Karbi people prepare this dish. As in many cultures that consume each and every part of the slaughtered animal body that has meat, the Karbi people also consume most of the parts of the pig meat as this is home raised animal and so they are rest assured that it will be an animal whose body parts are good enough to be consumed as a whole. So the pork meat and fats are cooked in the various recipes and the pork intestines are cleaned and cooked with various herbs like Bhedailota Paat and Mora paat that in themselves have properties to kill bacteria and they add a special flavour to the pork intestines as well. The cleaning process is very intense where the pork intestines are at first cleaned with water to remove the digested food of the pig. Later a thin bamboo stick is used to run across the intestines to remove traces of pig food that have been stuck inside the lining of these intestines after they chop it into smaller sizes. After this, the intestines are boiled with salt and turmeric that again helps in removing any bacteria present inside the intestines.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
The stuffed rice in bamboo being cooked over wood fire in Assamese cuisine

After boiling properly the water is discarded and the intestines are washed again properly. It is now time for the preparations and at first you need to chop the Bhedailata and Mora Paat into smaller pieces. Now heat mustard oil in a big Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Put in the chopped onions and lots of garlic and ginger to bring out the flavours of this pork intestine (Gahori nari) recipe and as we will not be using any other powdered spices, the odour of the pork intestines will be needed to be masked with the flavour of the garlic. Now add the chopped pork intestines (Gahori Nari) into the Kadhai and continue frying for some time. The more you fry the pork intestines (Gahori Nari) the more flavour it will release and after a while you add the chopped Bhedailata and Mora Pat leaves into the Kadhai. This will continue to fry and it is always preferable to cook this recipe over wood fire because the smoky flavour of the wood smoke will also add a distinctive flavour to this recipe. Go on frying the curry mixture for 15 minutes until you see the leaves melting and this time you will need to add water and bring the curry to a boil. Too much gravy is not desired as this is mostly a food that will be served over drinks and so ensure that you boil the curry until the water evaporates and reduces in quantity. You pork intestine (Gahori naari) with Bhedailata pat and Mora pat is ready to be served with rice wine.

The Karbi people also brew their rice locally and the ingredient used by them again is rice that has been fermented by local herbs and allowed to sit and later brewed. There are two types one is called as the Kesa and the other is the Poka. The Kesa is the wine that has been simply brewed from the fermented rice directly while the Poka is the one that is obtained after the distillation process as like the Bodo tribes ‘Zou’. The Kesa is also called as the Rahi and it has a sweet taste to it because of a herb that brings the sweet taste to the rice wine. Both of these are strong alcoholic beverages and it goes well with the Gahori Nari/Pork intestine recipe as well. Drinking of rice wine is common among the Karbi people of the villages who are mostly farmers who practice agriculture and like to savour a few glasses of rice wine before dinner after a long day of toiling in the fields. This is also time to socialize with the family and neighbours and people gather around the fire of the village household and speak of the proceedings of the day over rice wine and starters that are cooked in the village cooking recipe.

Another favourite bird that the village folks of Assam rear and love to consume during certain occasion is the duck meat (Hahor Mankho). In most of the village households one can find the owners rearing livestock at their backyard be it county chicken, pig or ducks. In Assam, though many people rear cows it is mostly for its milk and not for its meat as most of the people in Assam practices Hinduism as their religion and so as per rituals they do no consume beef. So the ducks too are reared and it is for their eggs and meat. The duck eggs are known to have a sticky property and it was during the time of the Ahom era of Assam that the architects and masons realized that they could use the duck eggs and mix it with sticky rice to create something with the properties of cement and hence they created this mortar and used it for construction of several prominent monuments during the time of the Ahom kingdom. These monuments include the likes of the Rang Ghar, Kareng Ghar and the Talatal Ghar at Sivasagar in the present day Assam. Since the people used to rear ducks at their village homes their eggs and they realized that the meat of ducks was a very delicious recipe as well in the village cuisine and when cooked with the right ingredient it is one of the tastiest meats to savour.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A preparation of a fry country chicken recipe of the Assamese cuisine

The duck meat is best prepared and savoured with a vegetable called as Kumura (White Gourd) that is available in plenty across Assam. It is a bug sized vegetable with a very fleshy interior and is rich in nutrients. There are various varieties of this vegetable and three if its special variants are called as the Pani Kumura, the Jali Kumura and the hill Kumura. The Hill Kumura is a rare one and it grows in the forests and it is said that it grows with the water that flows down from a hill stream and so with the fresh natural water that vegetable becomes very delicious. But this is found in one particular season and so village people do not wait only for that part of the year to consume the meat of the duck and they use the regular Pani Kumura to prepare the duck meat. Cleaning of the duck properly after it is slaughtered for its meat is very important because the skin of the duck has to be retained and not to be discarded or else a better part of the meat of the animal is lost. So to get rid of the hair on the body of the bird after it is cleaned by removing its feathers after putting the slaughtered bird in hot water one has to burn the body hair over the fire so as to get rid of the body hair. This has to be done very precisely because if you do not keep turning the body of the bird regularly over the fire the skin might get burnt.

After you get the bird ready you will need to chop the bird into smaller pieces and as the duck meat is very bony you have to make decent sized pieces so as to ensure that the bones contain adequate meat and bones. Clean the Kumura and chop it into small pieces and also chop onions, slit green chillies and tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic. These village cooking recipes do not make use of any powdered spices apart from salt and turmeric and so the flavours are brought in from the natural ingredients itself. So everything has to be made fresh and therefore the village cooking recipes take a little time to cook.

  • Heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up properly
  • Temper the oil with bay leaf, red chilli and whole cumin seeds and add the chopped onion to the Kadhai
  • Fry for some time and add the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies
  • Continue frying and later add the chopped tomatoes and also add duck meat in the Kadhai and lower the heat and allow the meat to fry
  • After some time when you see the oil is oozing out of the duck meat ensure to add the Kumura pieces in the Kadhai
  • Allow both the Kumura and the duck meat to fry properly until the Kumura becomes tender and becomes mushy and by that time the meat pieces will also become tender
  • Add water to the curry and bring it to a boil and add grounded pepper to the curry. The duck meat is very oily and the Kumura helps to cut the oil
  • Boil for some more time and top with coriander leaves and your Haahor Mankho Kumura logot viz. Duck meat curry with White Gourd is ready to be served with steaming hot rice
  • This is a very flavourful recipe and once you eat this village recipe of duck meat with white gourd you will start to have an attraction towards the meat. It might have a slight birdy taste to it but it is a part of the flavour of this cuisine. The Kumura is very delightful vegetable and you can use to prepare a pork recipe as well

To prepare this village recipe of Kumura aru Gahori Mankho (Pork cooked with White Gourd) you will need about half a kilo of pork meat and you will need to boil it in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles

  • Add salt and turmeric in the cooker and boil the meat and allow the whistle to go out on its own and discard the water
  • Chop the Kumura pieces and also mix a potato into the vegetable
  • Chop onions, green chillies, tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up properly and temper the oil with bay leaves, red chilli and paanch phuron
  • Add the onions and the ginger garlic paste and continue to fry for a while and later add the chopped tomatoes
  • Go on frying and at first add the Kumura pieces this time because the pork has already been cooked and too much frying with overdo the meat
  • Once the Kumura is fried up and turns soft along with the potatoes and now it is the time to add the meat into the Kadhai and fry for sometime
  • Pour hot water on the curry and allow the mixture to come to a boil
  • We do not need too much gravy for this curry and so we will allow the water to evaporate and keep the curry in sim for some time and turn off the gas once we are left with semi gravy curry
  • The Kumura logot Gahori Mankho is ready to be served with hot rice. Loaded with the nutrients of the Kumura vegetable that meat brings about a wonderful flavour to the curry of the pork and the white gourd curry. You can also cook chicken with this recipe and for this you will need to use a country chicken and the meat will need to be fried properly in the Kadhai before you add the Kumura pieces leaving you with a delightful curry of Kukura Mangkho logot Kumura jul.

If you are a vegetarian or an only eat eating person then you can simply chop the Kumura vegetable into small pieces and simply fry it and also add an egg that will bring a wonderful flavour to the recipe. Simply chop the Kumura into small pieces and chop and onion, green chillies and a few cloves of garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with a red chilli and whole cumin seeds. Fry the onions, green chillies and the garlic and later add the Kumura pieces into the Kadhai for frying. While frying if you are adding an egg add it into the Kadhai and scramble the egg along with the Kumura and your Kumura aru Koni Bhaja/Kumura Bhaja is ready to be served.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Fresh vegetables from the home garden is an important part of the Assamese cuisine

Another popular meat used in the village cooking of Assam is the goat meat and a very favourite recipe in the village cuisine of Assam is the goat meat curry cooked with raw papaya (Sagoli Mankho aru Omita Jul). One of the cleanest meats as the goats feed on a diet that is rich in grass and hence it has a clean gut as well. The intestines ‘Nari’ of the goat is used for cooking a separate recipe, the legs of the animal are used to prepare a soup, the head is also used to prepare a spicy goat brain recipe in the village cooking menu of Assam. To prepare the goat meat curry with raw papaya (Sagoli Mankho aru Omita Jul) we will need about 500 gm. of goat meat chopped into medium sized pieces and do not uses the goat meat as larger chunks as it take quite some time to cook. The raw papaya that is a magic vegetable not only because of its various nutrients that is used as a natural remedy for various human body ailments and immunity booster as per the village cuisine the papaya also has a substance that has the ability to tender the fibre of the meat. Hence when preparing meat like that of goat or country chicken and you are not pressure cooking the meat to make it tender, you can add a few pieces of chopped raw papaya into the curry during cooking and it will be able to reduce e the preparation time of the dish and also the flavours of the raw papaya will infuse into the curry that will give it a much better taste as well.

  • Clean the goat meat properly and mix it with mustard oil, salt and turmeric and allow the meat to rest for some time
  • Chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies and make paste of ginger and garlic and chop the raw papaya into inch sized pieces
  • Also you will need to make a paste of whole garam masala viz. cloves, cinnamon and cardamom (Long, Dalchine and elaichi) and also a paste of whole cumin seeds and do not make too much of a watery paste. It is always recommended to use a stone Bota to make this paste but instead you can use a blender as well to get the desired results. Use of fresh spices and not packet spices will bring in a distinctive aroma to the goat curry
  • The goat meat curry with raw papaya is best cooked over wood fire to bring out a delightful aroma of the goat curry and so to start the preparation for the curry light the wood fire and allow the fire to light up properly
  • Put the Kadhai over the wood fire and pour decent amount of mustard oil into the Kadhai because this curry will need adequate time to fry the meat and hence a little extra oil will be used up during this frying process
  • Once the oil is hot temper it with Bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch Phuron and put in the onions, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies
  • Continue to fry until the onions turn golden brown and then add the mutton pieces in the Kadhai followed with potatoes and continue to fry for some time. Cover the Kadhai with a lid and lower the wood fire and allow the meat to slowly cook over the fire
  • Remove the lid and mix the meat and the potatoes and add salt and turmeric powder and the Jeera paste that we prepared and continue to fry. Check if the meat is sticking to the Kadhai and this might be due to less oil added so you can add little amount of water and continue to fry
  • Add the chopped raw papayas into the curry and mix it up well with the curry and this will need to be cooked with the raw papaya in the goat curry turn mushy and this will help to tender up the meat
  • Go on frying the goat meat curry with occasionally adding water to the curry. Add in the chopped tomatoes once you see the raw papaya have completely softened and this would mean that the meat also has tenderized
  • Once the tomato have also mixed along with the goat meat curry, add water and bring the goat meat curry to a boil
  • Allow the curry to boil for some time and the goat meat curry has attained a slightly thick consistency. Add the whole garam masala paste that we prepared earlier and mix the curry well and check for salt in the curry, If the salt is right then top the goat meat curry with coriander leaves and your goat meat curry with raw papaya (Sagoli Mankho aru Omita Jul) is ready to be served with white rice.

The meat in this curry would be cooked to a very tender state and even the bones will become tender as well. This is because the enzyme papain present in the raw papaya has the ability to tenderize the meat. This is one of the most flavourful meat curry you can have among the village cooking recipes of Assam and once you taste this goat meat curry with raw papaya the flavours of the curry will delight you and you will want to eat more of the curry.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Goat meat recipe cooked with potatoes in the Assamese cuisine

In case you are cooking this at home and do not have access to wood fire you can prepare this curry (Sagoli Mankho aru Omita Jul) over gas as well and it is very simple to prepare once you have all the ingredients ready for the preparations. The smoky flavour of this goat curry with raw papaya will be missing but you can still get a very similar curry in this method of preparation.

  • Take a big pressure cooker (preferably 5 litre capacity) and heat mustard oil in the cooker and again add a good amount of the oil to fry the meat
  • Temper the hot oil with bay leaves, red chillies and paanch phuron
  • This process is similar to the village cooking recipe and so go on adding the raw onions, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry until the onions turn brown
  • Put the goat meat in the pressure cooker and also add the potatoes and fry for some time
  • Put in the salt, turmeric and the cumin seed paste and mix well and add the papaya
  • Continue frying and later add the chopped tomatoes to the meat and fry until the tomatoes are mushy
  • Put sufficient water about the quantity of meat in the cooker and allow to pressure cook for about 7-8 whistles and allow the cooker to release the air on its own
  • Open the lid of the pressure cooker and check for salt in the goat meat curry. The papaya must have melted by now and so the meat will also have become tender
  • Heat up the cooker again and bring the goat meat curry to a boil. Add the paste of the whole garam masal and top it with coriander leaves and the goat meat curry of the village cooking recipe of Assam cooked over gas in a pressure cooker (Sagoli Mankho aru Omita Jul) is ready to be served.

Coming now to the goat leg recipe or as it very popular in India as the Mutton Paya recipe is another very important village cooking recipe of Assam and it is believed that these goat legs are good enough to strengthen the bones of the human body as well. This recipe is cooked with various herbs and the broth is often provided to the elderly to regain strength in their body that they lose with their age. Even to young children this broth proves a very good natural way to strengthen the bones. The preparation is very much similar to the local chicken soup with various herbs we had prepared earlier and the main ingredient is the ground black pepper corns that bring in a unique flavour to the goat leg soup (Sagoli Thengor Jul Jalukor logot).

  • To prepare this wonderfully nutritious broth you will need to find the herbs like Manimuni, Mati Kanduri, Nororhingho (Curry leaves), Bilomoni, Marsang and clean these properly and make a paste or you can mix them up in a blender and make a paste
  • Select the goat legs from the vendor and ask him to remove the outer skin and hair from the goat legs. Traces of hair will still be present that will be removed once you boil the goat legs with water and salt
  • Chop an onion into very thin slices and make a paste of garlic and ginger
  • Stir the legs in the boiling water continuously and as the water boils the hairs attached to the legs will float on top and use a spoon to remove the hair from the water
  • Make a paste of various herbs that we collected earlier and put them together in a blender and mix up to a fine paste with adequate water. As this will be in a broth so water in desired quantity is necessary
  • The easier way to allow the tendons of the goat legs to cook is to allow to cook this broth inside a pressure cooker and give the cooker an easy 4-5 whistles because we would not use raw papaya in this recipe and so the option of tenderising the tendon on the goat legs would be using this pressure whistles
  • Heat mustard oil in a pressure cooker and do not add too much oil as this is mostly a broth and a health recipe to be savoured not for taste but for the wellbeing of the human body. No need to add bay leaf or red chillies and simply temper the oil with some whole cumin seeds
  • Fry the onions and add the ginger garlic paste along with the slit green chillies and continue frying for sometime
  • Add the goat legs into the pressure cooker and continue frying for some time with a cover lid and cooker and add salt and turmeric powder and mix properly
  • Once the goat legs start releasing water add the chopped tomatoes and fry some more time until the tomatoes are mushy. Later add the blended paste of the various herbs in the cooker and fry for some time
  • Top the cooker with adequate water for the broth and after mixing the contents properly put the lid on the pressure cooker and allow to pressure cook for 5-6 whistles
  • Once the pressure cooker releases the whistles on its own open the lid and check for salt and the consistency of the broth. If the broth is too watery then allow the broth to simmer over fire for a while. If it is too thick then add some water and bring to a boil.
  • Once the desired consistency is attained then top the broth with grounded pepper corns and coriander leaves and your goat leg soup with herbs and pepper (Sagoli theng jul Jalukor logot) is ready to be served
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Goat meat recipe fried in the Assamese cuisine of Assam

This turns out to be a very nutritious broth and the aroma of the fresh herbs and the ground pepper and coriander is a real delight. The goat legs will have a slight odour of the meat and this is not a problem because the herbs will mask the odour with their fresh flavours. But be advised that the goat meat is hot in nature and it increases your body heat and so many people in the villages of Assam advise against the consumption of this meat during the summer season and added with the ground pepper it will multiply your body heat. Occasionally it can be savoured in the summer season but it is best to consume the goat meat recipe during the winter season and that too in moderation. Any meat if you eat too much it poses a health threat because of the uric content and the dependence of the slaughter of the meat. Although freely raised chicken or goat or pig who feed on the natural surroundings and have adequate space to roam around are healthy and nutritious compared to the caged ones who do not have adequate spaces even to turn around and relieve themselves, still it is not advisable to eat too much of meat as per the village elderly of Assam and who would always recommend you a balanced cuisne with occasional consumption of meat.

In my various experiences across the villages of Assam, I see that the villagers consume very less meat. For instance for a big family including neighbours they only slaughter one small chicken and make curry with a lot of gravy along with various vegetables or the Mati Dali as we have seen in one of our various village cooking recipes of Assam. They consume the rice with mostly the curry gravy that has the nutrients of the meat and the vegetables and for each person they only serve two small pieces of meat and that too it is mostly a rare affair that happens say not more than once a week. It is the same with the fish as well where they consume mostly the gravy and perhaps a small piece of the fish. This is very unlike in the cities where you can see people dine and eat almost an entire chicken when they have tandoori chicken or any grill chicken and kebab recipes. These chicken are moreover farm raised broiler chicken that are fed with a lot of antibiotics that allow them to grow faster and eliminate any diseases in them that in turn is transferred to the human body. As per my thoughts these foods are harmful to the human body in the long run and so I would advise against eating of these food recipes and if you have a craving for such food then perhaps it would be recommended you have it very rarely.

The village cooking recipe that fascinates me is that of the Khasi tribe of a local village of Meghalaya. In the Khasi society that follows a Matrilineal society, the family lineage is taken from the mother’s side and it the lady who is the head of the household so the lady goes out to work while the men stay back and look after the house and take care of the family and kids. Though the wife before going out to work cooks for the family and they have an interesting recipe where they have a vessel over fire and the chunks of pork meat are added along with various leafy vegetables and a broth is created. Also special pickles are kept in the kitchen and as the Khasi people believe in eating rice across the day they have small sized meals and go on eating at intervals across the day. The mean folks get together and play cards or engage in some other activities and the kids go out to plat. Once anyone is hungry they come back to the house and take a plate (the plates they use are different than others because it is like a saucer and has adequate space to pour more of gravy) and put rice from the pot and take the broth from the pork curry with herbs and also they have potato fry and the oil of the pickle and quickly finish the meal and go back to play again. Once a person comes and sees that the broth quantity has decreased as this is consumed a lot they simply add water to the ves4el and add some salt on top and the broth is ready to be eaten again after they put it over the fire to boil again. And they rarely consume the meat chunks that are lying in the vessel and so the broth continues for the day until the lady of the house arrives back from work. I mentioned this because here you see that the Khasi people do not consume the meat and even if they do they will just take a piece once the broth has completely soaked the favours of the meat. So this is to sum that the local village people do not consume too much meat and this result in them having very thin statues as well.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Various fresh fruits and vegetables at a local Khasi market in Meghalaya

Coming back to the goat meat recipes in the village cuisine another popular dish that the village people of Assam cook is the goat meat curry with Kumura (white gourd). We already cooked the Kumura with Duck and Pork and this time we will prepare the goat curry with the Kumura and this is called in the village cuisine as Kumura Logot Sagoli Mankho Jul. The goat meat comes in two forms of the female goat (Khasi) and the male goat (Patha). The female goat that reaches an adult size is filled with lots of fat in the body and once you cook this meat along with the fat it becomes very oily and therefore as in like the duck meat, the Kumura vegetable will help to absorb the oil from the goat meat.

  • To prepare the goat meat curry with white gourd (Kumura logot Sagoli Mankho Jul) you will need about ½ kg of goat meat preferably from the hind leg area and chop it up into smaller pieces
  • Chop onions, tomatoes, slit green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic
  • We won’t be using the raw papaya to tenderize the meat and so we will need to marinate the goat meat with salt, turmeric and a little mustard oil and allow it to rest for a couple of hours and the salt and mustard oil will help to tenderize the meat
  • Take one half of the Kumura (White Gourd)and peel of the skin and also remove the area at the centre that contains the seeds and we will only make use of the fleshy part of this vegetable and chop it up into smaller box sized pieces and keep aside
  • Make a paste of whole cumin seeds and also we will need to dry roast the whole spices (garam masala) like cardamom, cinnamon and clove (elaichi, dalchini and long) and once it is dry roasted we will pound it into a coarse powder
  • You can also add a big potato cut into smaller pieces if you like or else we will be preparing another recipe along with the goat meat and potatoes and so you can skip the part of adding potato to this village recipe
  • Take a large pressure cooker (5 ltr capacity) and heat it up over the gas (if you are using wood fire then use a Kadhai) and put mustard oil in the cooker and allow the oil to heat up properly
  • Temper the hot oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and add the chopped onions and fry for some time and then add the ginger garlic paste and fry for some more time
  • Once the onions turn golden brown add the salt and turmeric and fry for some time and add the goat meat into the pressure cooker. This will need some time to fry and so minimize the gas and allow the goat meat to keep frying while covering the pressure cooker
  • Open the lid and check the goat meat and see to it that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pressure cooker or else it will get burnt. In case you find the meat getting stuck in the pressure cooker bottom then add little water and continue to fry the goat meat for some more time
  • Once you see that the goat meat is done frying and the colour of the curry is turning little brown then add the chopped tomatoes. Always follow this step while cooking any meat because the tomatoes if added early to the recipe will stop the process of tenderization of the meat and so the meat will not be cooked properly
  • After frying for some time when you see the tomatoes are mushy add in the Kumura (White gourd) pieces and also the jeera paste that we made. In case you are adding potatoes to this curry now is the right time to add the potatoes
  • Add water to the curry and ensure to have the same amount of water as the meat in the curry and now close the pressure cooker lid and allow the cooker to blow for 6-7 whistles. As goat meat takes little time to cook so this step is necessary since we are not adding the raw papaya to this meat curry. In case you are frying in a Kadhai over the fire go on cooking by adding water into the curry
  • Once the whistle releases the air inside the pressure cooker then open the lid of the pressure cooker and check for salt in the goat meat curry. The Kumura and the potatoes muse become soft by now and if the salt is alright then bring the goat meat curry to a boil again and top it with the pounded whole garam masala and the coriander leaves

Your goat meat curry with white gourd (Sagoli Mankho aru Kumura Jul) is ready to be served with white rice. This recipe is very common in the winter season across the villages of Assam because of the availability of the Kumura vegetable and also the goat meat is favoured to be had when the weather is cool so that it can balance the body temperature. The vegetables blend in perfectly with the meat and it soaks in the flavour of the goat meat and once you eat the piece of the kumura that was added to this goat curry you will want to prefer to eat this more than the pieces of the meat in this village cooking recipe of Assam.

As mentioned earlier, the goat meat is a delicacy in the village and it can be afforded by only a few people because the meat is very expensive. It is mostly because the goat takes a long time to raise and so the whole goat when sold at the market is at a much higher price and the butchers who buy it from the middle men get the goat an additional price and so they need to manage to make a little profit after selling the meat as well. So if you go to any shop to buy the goat meat a kilo of this meat will cost you anywhere between INR 600-700 per kilo. Also to make a decent profit the butchers add water to the meat by continuously splashing it with water so that the meat soaks in the water and hence even though you actually get the meat weighing a kilo but the actual quantity is a little less. To make the most of the profit from the goat, the butchers sell each and every part of the animal and though the meat goes for a high price the same are not the case with the other parts for eg. The legs sell for INR 10 per piece, the intestine sell for INR 100 per kg and the goat head sells for INR 100 per head and all depends on the way you bargain with the butchers.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
An urban cuisine recipe of chicken pulao and dim Kasha in the Assamese cuisine

So the village folks prefer to buy a little meat and they buy these other body parts of the goat to prepare the goat meat curry. Once very favourite part of the goat body is the intestine and the village folks know the perfect way to cook it. Though the city dwellers do not know much about the preparations of the Sagoli Naari (Goat intestines) a certain working class believe in picking up this portion of the goat and they prepare it into a very flavourful recipe called as the Sagoli Naari Norohingho logot viz. Goat intestines recipe with curry leaves. The goat as an animal feeds only on grass and hence the problems of bacteria present in the intestines is less but still a good amount of cleaning and boiling is needed to clean up the intestines before it is ready to be cooked. The goat intestines are wrapped around in a sack inside the goat stomach and so one has to ask the butcher to remove the intestine first and later chop it into pieces and bring it to the local village kitchen and start the preparations with the cleaning up of the goat intestines and coiling them. To clean the intestines take a thin bamboo stick and push out the contents of the intestines and keep the meat on a large dish and pour water over it and keep mixing the meat with you hands. Now take a large vessel and place on the fire and put decent amount of water and add the goat intestine in the vessel and add salt and turmeric powder.

Once the goat intestines have boiled along with the salt and turmeric that means the bacteria from the intestines have gone out as well and remove the goat intestines from the vessel and drain the water from the vessel. Now clean the goat intestine again in cold water and make the preparations to prepare the goat intestine curry. The curry leaves (Norohingho paat) will be needed to be made into a paste and you can use a stone grinder to prepare the paste or you can use a blender as well and prepare the curry leaves paste. Once the curry paste is ready (curry leaves or Norohingho paat have a very aromatic smell and this helps to mask the smell of the goat intestines. You can add the mani muni herb as well but it is not compulsory). Chop onions, garlic and ginger, tomatoes and make a paste of the whole spices of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves (Elaichi, dalchini and long). The garam masala paste is absolutely necessary in the preparations of the goat meat curry as well as intestines because the aroma and flavours of the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves add a distinct flavour to the curry.

  • Heat up mustard oil in a pressure cooker and allow the oil to heat up completely and temper with bay leaf and dried red chillies
  • Add the onions, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry for some time and add the salt, turmeric and the jeera paste and continue to fry
  • Add in the chopped and cleaned pieces of the goat intestines and fry properly for some time
  • Gently fry and add in the curry leaves paste (Norohingho paat) into the pressure cooker. This will allow the goat intestines to soak in the aroma and the flavours of the curry leaves (Norohingho paat) and this will mask the gentle odour of the goat intestines that we already eliminated by cleaning the intestines with salt and turmeric
  • Once you see the goat intestines (Sagoli Naari) absorbing in the taking the green colour of the curry leaf paste (Norohingho Paat) add in the chopped tomatoes and stir properly and add little water to the curry
  • Once you see the tomatoes have become mushy add in the garam masala paste that was pounded and mix thoroughly and add in water and allow the goat intestine curry (Sagoli Nari jul) to pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. This step will allow the intestine to go tender so that it is not left chewy in the mouth
  • Once the pressure cooker releases the whistles open the cooker and check the curry for salt and the gravy consistency. Not too much gravy is desired for this village cooking recipe and hence if the gravy is little more heat the curry and allow the water to evaporate so that you are left with a gravy that is not very thick not watery and top it with green coriander leaves and your goat intestine with curry leaves (Sagoli Nari aru Norohingho) is ready to be served either with rice wine or white rice.
Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Various dried meat and fish recipes at a market in Arunachal Pradesh

Now all these goat meat recipes require a lot of preparations especially because it is done in the village cooking style recipes and it might prove to be very time consuming for any city dweller with high paying jobs that have the leisure of money but not the leisure of time. Keeping in mind many readers of this village cooking of Assam page will want to savour these recipes and also would want to prepare the recipe on their own. The goat meat (or mutton as many would call) is a much desired meat for many people who are non-vegetarians and dwell in the urban areas of the country. I too lived in one of the big metros of the country and I too had the desire to eat a home cooked goat meat (mutton) curry but as I knew the preparations would take a long time I often chose not to prepare this goat meat (mutton) curry on my own and whenever the desire to eat this food would come to me I would go and order myself a mutton curry recipe at a restaurant. The food cooked at the restaurant is high in oil and spices and even though the curry would be delightful but the spices prove to be harmful for the stomach in the long run. Also if the mutton is not cooked properly the meat doesn’t tenderize and one has to chew a lot to eat the meat. At restaurants since they need to serve the food very quickly they follow a simple procedure of keeping the goat meat boiled earlier and once an order is placed the chef quickly heats up the vessel and pours in a gravy and adds a lot of spices and adds in the boiled mutton meat to the gravy and so the meat is not infused with the flavours.

To top it at the restaurant they charge a bomb for the goat meat (mutton curry) and only serve about four pieces and for that price one can buy a kilo of the goat meat. And this is for sure that you are buying fresh meat from a butcher and preparing yourself at home in the neat kitchen surroundings and proper hygiene. To sort out the problem of me having to go out and eat mutton curry (goat meat) recipes and also to do it in the proposed time I thought of a unique way of preparing the meat that would not take much time and also the flavours of the meat would infuse in the curry properly. To get the thing sorted I would chose the preparations on a Saturday evening when a few of my friends would come over for the weekend party and we would have a menu of veg pulao, mutton curry and the famous Bengali recipe of the Begun Bhaja (Brinjal fry with besan). As during the week I would not have time I would plan certain of my tasks like going to the bank, putting my clothes out at the laundry, go for grocery shopping, etc. during the day time on a Saturday and I would at first get the mutton (goat meat) from the butcher near my house and get in the fresh meat cut and bring it back home and put it for marination and keep it in the refrigerator so that it would get tender by the time we stated cooking the evening over our beers.

To begin with the marination, I bring in about a kilo of mutton (goat meat) for the five friends who come for the evening and I would marinate the goat meat (mutton) after cleaning it properly with curd, salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and the meat masala powder and keep it in the fridge for about 7 hours or before I get it out to prepare in the evening. After finishing my work running my personal errands and when the evening arrives and the friends are over I would begin the preparations to prepare the mutton curry (goat meat curry) at first. As the meat is already marinated with the required amount of spices so I simply chop the onions, tomatoes and make  the ginger garlic paste, coriander and dry roast the garam masala and pound it in a hand pounder and start by heating mustard oil in the pressure cooker (preferably a 5 litre one). The oil once it heats up and smoke starts coming out of it is tempered with bay leaf and dried red chillies and whole jeera (cumin). Later I add the onions and ginger garlic paste and fry it for a while. To this I add the marinated mutton (goat meat) that was in the refrigerator and allowed to settle in the room temperature. The meat is tenderized little and so I fry it for a decent amount of time until I see that the oil is separating in the meat pieces in the curry. Now I add the tomatoes to the mutton (goat meat) curry as the mutton pieces have fried up properly and the tomatoes can now bring in the flavours to the mutton curry (goat meat curry) without disturbing the tenderizing process of the meat.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A recipe of Rice, Dal and mutton curry in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine

After the tomatoes are mushy I add sufficient water to make a thick consistency gravy of the mutton (goat meat) curry and put on the lid of the pressure cooker and allow to cook for 7-8 whistles so that the meat is cooked properly. During this time I make the preparations for the veg pulao and the begun bhaja recipe and the pressure cooker is allowed to release the whistle on its own. Now it is time to check the meat tenderness and also the salt in the mutton (goat meat) curry and if everything is correct that I bring the curry to a boil again and put in the pounded whole garam masala powder and top it with the coriander leaves.  The simple yet delicious mutton (goat meat) curry cooked in urban style with tips from the village cooking recipe is ready and kept aside to be served later for dinner.

To prepare the veg pulao I follow a simple recipe as well. The veg pulao recipe or any fried rice recipe is not a popular village cuisine of Assam but it is often had in the urban households of Assam and my mother used to prepare this flavourful veg pulao recipe and I follow her recipe. To prepare the veg pulao the selection of rice in important and you have to choose a flavourful biryani rice to prepare the pulao and soak it in water for about an hour so the rice becomes soft. Next we have to chop the vegetables that we would be using in the pulao and I choose to add carrot, French beans, potatoes and peas to the pulao recipe. Finely chop the vegetable and keep them soaked in a bowl of water so that they do not turn black. Coriander leaves and pudina (mint) leaves are also needed to prepare the pulao and so keep them as well soaked in water. Now heat vegetable oil in the pressure cooker and do not add too much oil just enough to fry the vegetables because we will add a tablespoon of ghee as well to the pulao and the meal will become quite heavy with the ghee and the mutton (goat meat) curry as well. Once the oil heats up temper the oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies, whole jeera and whole spices (cardamom, elaichi and clove) and allow this to fry then add the chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste and fry for some time. Add the chopped vegetables including the tomato and add salt and turmeric powder and continue to fry for some time. The vegetables do not need much time to cook and also we would be pressure cooking for about 3 whistles and so too much frying is not necessary. After the vegetables are fried add the rice and allow frying for some more time and adding in the pudina (mint) and dhania (coriander) leaves and adding water to the pressure cooker and allowing cooking for 3 whistles. Once the pressure cooker releases on its own check for salt and if it is right then add in a tablespoon of ghee and the veg pulao is ready to be served along with the mutton curry.

Now the final preparation is that of the Begun Bhaja (brinjal fry). This is a favourite Bengali cuisine recipe and it is also savoured by the people of Assam. Reiterating again that these are not village cooking recipes of Assam and this is comfort food in the urban households of Assam. For the Begun bhaja recipe we will need to take two good sixed brinjal preferable the round ones and slice up the brinjal into thin slices so that they get cooked properly once fried. The slices should not be very thin and not very thick about 2 cm in width and after you cut out the brinjal slices make slits on the body of the vegetable and put them in a bowl of water or else the skin of the brinjal will turn black and this is not desired. Now we will need to prepare the batter in which we will dip the brinjal pieces before frying it in hot vegetable oil. To prepare the batter we will need besan (chick pea powder) and add some rice flour to it as well as this will make the brinjal fry crunchy. To this we add salt, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, jeera powder and dhania powder and mix it with water to get a coarse paste. Ensure not to add too much water or else the batter won’t stick to the brinjal pieces. Once the batter is ready just keep aside for some time and in that time take a deep bottom Kadhai and pour vegetable refined oil in the Kadhai. Once the oil heats up lower the gas flame and dip in the pieces of the cut brinjal into the batter and coat the brinjal pieces evenly with the batter and fry the brinjal in the oil. Once the brinjal pieces turn golden brown after frying it means it is done and you can remove it from the oil and put it in a paper napkin to soak the extra oil. This finishes the preparation of the comfort food of veg pulao, mutton (goat meat) curry and the begun bhaja.

Another popular urban recipe with roots to the village cooking recipe is the goat meat dry fry recipe (Sagoli Mankho Hukan bhaja) and this is a popular recipe to go with rice wine and drinks. As many people prefer goat meat as compared to chicken so they want not only the curry version of the goat meat (mutton) but also the dry fry version that is popular as an evening snacks during parties and events and so I will write down this recipe for my viewers. In the village cooking recipe of Assam this is a different process of cooking the goat meat dry fry or roast goat meat because this will be cooked over wood fire with raw papaya that would allow o tenderize the meat so that it easily dissolves in your mouth. As this is cooked over fire with a controlled heat so the mutton takes time to cook and the preparations for this recipe almost takes about 2 hours but as in the urban area time is precious commodity we will cut short the cooking process by at first boiling the goat meat in a pressure cooker and allowing it to boil for about 6-7 whistles that will make the meat tender and later we will fry it with the raw papaya so that the meat tenderizes faster. For this goat meat dry fry recipe you will need:

½ kg of goat meat, 1 onion, 1 tomato, ½ raw papaya, dried roasted and pounded whole garam masala, jeera whole grounded, bay leaves, dried red chillies, ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric and meat masala powder, coriander chopped

  • Clean the goat meat properly and put it in a pressure cooked and add little salt and allow to boil for 5-6 whistles
  • Once the pressure cooker releases on its own separate the meat pieces and keep the stock as this would be needed while frying the meat and this will bring about the meat flavours to the dried goat meat fry recipe
  • Chop the onions into thin slices and also the tomatoes and the green coriander and the raw papaya into small pieces
  • You can also add a potato to the recipe as the flavour of the potato once it soaks in the flavour of the goat meat is amazing
  • The pressure cooked goat meat must have become tender by now but to allow the meat to be more tender we will fry it with the raw papaya and the enzyme papain will do the wonder
  • Make a paste of the whole garam masala by first fry roasting them and later pounding them. The whole Jeera you can make a paste by putting it in the blender. Make a paste of the ginger and garlic as well
  • Take a Kadhai and heat mustard oil in the Kadhai and wait until the oil is hot and temper it with bay leaves and dried red chilly
  • Add the onions and fry and later add the ginger garlic paste
  • Now add the goat meat (mutton) pieces in the Kadhai and fry along with the onions and later add the salt and turmeric powder followed by the whole jeera paste
  • Add the mutton stock to the Kadhai little by little and allow the mutton to cook and later add the raw papaya pieces to the Kadhai and mix it properly
  • Once you see that the raw papaya have melted then add the tomatoes to the curry and fry until the tomatoes get mushy and blend with the meat
  • Go on adding the left over mutton stock and frying and add the meat masala powder followed by the whole garam masala powder
  • Once the stock has dried up from the Kadhai after frying check for a piece of mutton for salt and if the salt is alright then top the goat meat roast (mutton sukha) with green coriander

This is another very flavourful mutton (goat meat) recipe cooked in the urban style with roots to the village cooking. In the village cooking, this will be done over fire and the use of meat masala won’t be there and the smoky aroma of the meat will be a very wonderful one to eat. Also as this is slow roasted the mutton will be done to perfection.

The final recipe of the goat meat (mutton) that comes from the village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine is the mutton liver fry. The liver is a big organ of the goat and when prepared well is the tastiest meat from the animal as well. The goat liver fry or the mutton liver fry is best done in the village cooking recipes of Assam over fore and it is the best foods to be had with rice wine or as a started before the main course. To prepare the goat liver (Sagoli Kolija bhaja) fry recipe you will need to select the liver from the butcher who will at first ask you a much higher price than normal and once you bargain you will be able to get it for a fair price. The goat as mentioned earlier is a clean animal that doesn’t feed on anything apart from clean grass and so the liver is bound to be clean and the goat liver (kolija) has a lot of iron content. Once you get the mutton liver you have to chop it up into smaller pieces and just to be sure it is always necessary to boil the liver at first with salt and turmeric. Not only will this help to eliminate any bacteria from the goat liver but also help to tenderize the liver before cooking. This recipe is also called as the mutton kaliji recipe in some parts of India and it is famous and loved among the Muslim community of India.

Once the liver is cleaned and boiled chop the onions, tomatoes, make a paste of ginger and garlic, a few curry leaves (Norohingho paat) to boost the flavour. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with bay leaf, red chilli and whole jeera seeds. Once these are fired up add the chopped onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry for some time and later add in the chopped liver pieces followed by the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and dhania powder and continue frying the goat liver (Sagoli Kolija) and this will take a sometime. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and keep frying until the tomatoes mix well with the goat liver and the curry takes a brown texture. Once the tomatoes are done add little water and keep frying and top with the ground whole garam masala powder and finally top with the coriander leaves. Your goat liver/mutton liver (Sagoli Kolija) dry fry recipe is ready to be served with rice wine or as a starter.

So we have seen that in the village cooking recipe of Assamese cuisine all the parts of the goat meat have been used to make some form of curry like the meat was used to make a curry and the dry roast recipe, the goat legs were used to make a healthy and tasty broth, the goat intestines were used to make a sagoli naari recipe with curry leaves (Norohingho paat) and we have made use of the goat liver to make goat liver dry fry recipe. The only part left is the goat head and brain that can be used to prepare some other recipe as well. I have never eaten ot witnessed the cooking process of a goat head so I do not know about the recipe and so perhaps once I hear about the village cooking recipe of the goat head and brain I will upload the contents in this page.

Now I will come to some of the vegetable stir fry recipes that are cooked in the village cooking recipes of Assam. To start with we will prepare one of the favourite village cooking vegetable fry recipe of Assam that is called as the Dhekia Aalo bhaja (Fiddlehead ferns and potato fry). One of the very flavourful and nutritious herbs in the Assamese cuisine is that of the Dhekia (Fiddlehead fern) and this grows in abundance in the forests and at homes of the villages as well. We have already prepared the Dali aru Dhekia aru Maasor Matha (Dal with Fiddlehead ferns and fish head) and now we will fry it simple with sliced potatoes. To prepare this Dhekia Aalo Bhaja gather a bunch of the fiddlehead ferns and to clean it just break the ferns into inch size pieces with your hands and clean it properly with water. Chop a potato into thin slices and keep the skin on and do not peel it. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with dry red chillies and fry onions and chopped garlic cloves. Add in the Dhekia and the Aalo and add salt and turmeric powder and fry until the potatoes are soft. Your Dhekia Aalo bhaja is ready to be served.

Another very popular vegetable fry recipe in the village cooking recipes of the Assamese cuisine is the Bhendi Aalo bhaja (Ladies finger (Okra) and Potato fry). The Okra or Bhendi as it is called in the local villages of Assam is a very nutritious vegetable and tasty as well recipe that takes very less time to cook. To prepare this Bhendi Aalo Bhaja (Okra and potato fry) simple take a handful of the Bhendi and a big size potato. Wash both these vegetables properly and then chop it into about 2 cm size small pieces. Also chop an onion, slit a green chilli and later heat mustard oil in a Kadhai. Once the hot is hot, temper it with dried red chillies and few pieces of chopped garlic and later fry the onions and the green chillies. Once the onion is fried lower the heat and add the chopped Bhendi and Aalo pieces into the Kadhai and mix well and fry for some time. Once you see that the Bhendi is releasing a sticky paste it is time to add the turmeric and allow to fry for some time after mixing it well and once the stickiness is gone add salt and mix together and fry for another five minutes in the low flame. Once the potatoes have softened it means the Bhendi and Aalo Bhaja is ready to be served. This is a very simple fried vegetable recipe and it is popular across the villages of Assam and not only in the villages but even the urban households prepare this Bhendi Aalo bhaja along with their meal in the season when the Bhendi is available in the market.

Continuing with the Bhendi (okra) recipes, another very popular urban recipe made from this humble vegetable is the stuffed Bhendi. Though it is prepared across various parts of the country the Assamese cuisine version is slightly different and simple to prepare. To prepare the stuff Bhendi recipe take a bunch of the ladies fingers and slit them carefully without splitting the Bhendi into two and carefully remove the seeds from inside of the vegetable. Do this for each and every Bhendi and keep the seeds aside. Take a small onion and slice it into two pieces. Peel a few garlic pods and ginger as well and slit two green chillies and half a tomato as well. Take all of these together along with the Bhendi seeds and put them in a blender and mix it to form a uniform paste. Now leave this paste and put it in a wide bottom bowl and put the slit Bhendi into this bowl. Add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and dhania powder in this batter and mix all the ingredients together and ensure that the slit Bhendi have covered in this paste and use your fingers to mix them properly.

Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is heated up then lower the gas to SIM and add the Bhendi along with the mixed batter into the Kadhai and start the frying process. Cover the Kadhai with a lid and allow the stuffed Bhendi to cook in the Kadhai. When you add the oil to the Kadhai ensure to allow the oil to spread across the Kadhai and this way the Bhendi will not stick to the bottom of the Kadhai and it is always preferable to prepare this stuffed Bhendi recipe in a non-stick Kadhai. Once you see the colour of the Bhendi turning dark brown it means the dish is done and the stuffed Bhendi recipe is ready to be served. You can also prepare a Bhendi Pakora recipe with this vegetable as well and it is a very simple process. Just take a handful of Bhendi and slit them in between to become two pieces. Now prepare a batter with chickpea flour, salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder, dhania powder and ginger garlic paste. Add little water and mix the batter thoroughly until you get a paste with a thick consistency. Now heat vegetable oil in a Kadhai and let it heat up. Take a slit Bhendi pieces and dip them in the batter and allow the batter to coat properly on each side of the Bhendi. Fry the pieces in the oil preferable four pieces at a time and your Bhendi Pakora recipe is ready to be served.

In the villages of Assam, they prepare a Bhendi curry as well and this is a simple process where you take the Bhendi and chop them into decent sized pieces preferably one Bhendi is chopped into two pieces and the edges are removed. To make the gravy thick, the potato is boiled and later mashed up to be added into the curry. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and later temper it with dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds (cumin). Now add the chopped onions and ginger and garlic paste and put in the slit green chillies into the Kadhai. Add the Bhendi pieces and add salt and turmeric powder and allow to fry. After the Bhendi is fried for some time add in the chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes turn mushy and now add in the mashed boiled potatoes to the Kadhai. Top the curry with water and let it come to a boil. This is not a gravy dish and so ensure to add not too much of water and once it boils allow the water to evaporate and keep only a little gravy. Your Bhendi gravy is ready to be served with rice.

But the best flavour of the Bhendi comes in the form of chutney that is another popular urban dish of Assam. This Bhendi chutney goes as a very good accompaniment along with a meal and is loaded with the goodness of the Bhendi vegetable and you can add green chillies to the chutney and spice it up as well. To prepare this Bhendi chutney recipe in the urban style cooking recipes of Assam, you will need a handful of the Bhendi vegetable and clean them properly with water and chop it up in thin slices and discard both the ends of the vegetable. Peel a few garlic pods and also slit a few green chillies and chop a bunch of coriander leaves. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and at first fry the garlic cloves in the oil and remove it and later add the chopped Bhendi into the Kadhai and allow to fry in low flame. After you see the Bhendi becoming slimy add little turmeric powder and continue frying until the Bhendi is done. Now transfer all the contents viz. fried garlic, fried Bhendi, green chillies, coriander and salt in a blender and mix the contents and blend it. The Bhendi chutney is ready to be served as a side dish along with your meal.

Another popular vegetable that is fried and served along with a meal is the Brinjal. In Assam, you will find three variants of the brinjal vegetable one is a thin small ones, one is a thick and long one and the other is a round pulpy one. And all of these can be used to make separate recipes of fried vegetables. We have already used the round brinjal to prepare the special Begun Bhaja recipe when we made a batter of besan with certain spices and fried the brinjal pieces in the oil after coating it with the batter. However a very simple recipe of these brinjal variant is to chop them into thin slices and make a slit in the flesh and rub salt and turmeric powder on the brinjal and later fry them in mustard oil. This is again called as the Bengena Bhaja in the village cuisine of Assam. There is nothing else to do just add salt and turmeric powder and fry the brinjal and the vegetable tastes delicious as well. Another recipe of this brinjal is with the smaller variety of the brinjal and this is mixed with potatoes and fried. To prepare this Bengena aru Aalo bhaja you will need to first clean the small brinjal and slit them into two and cut them in half. Do the same with the potatoes and make equal sized pieces and mix both the vegetables together. Chop an onion and a few garlic cloves and slit two green chillies as well. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Once the oil is heated up lower the gas and temper the oil with a dried red chilli and whole cumin seeds. Add in the garlic cloves and onions and the slit green chillies. After frying for some time you will add the chopped brinjal and potato and fry for some more time. Add salt and turmeric powder and fry until the potatoes are soft and your Bengena aru Aalu Bhaja is ready to be served with the meal.

Another urban cooking recipe of with the Brinjal is the stuffed Brinjal and this is a delight to eat as well. To prepare this recipe you will need the round brinjal variety and you have to hollow out the brinjal and take out the inner content with a spoon. Boil a potato and mash it up once it is boiled and mix it with the pulp flesh extracted. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with whole jeera (cumin) seeds and fry onions and add the boiled potato and the brinjal flesh and fry together. Add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder, dhania powder and keep frying this until the brinjal flesh has cooked and the masala turns brown in colour. Now let this cool and later stuff it back in the hollowed brinjal and heat up oil again and fry the brinjal pieces in the oil one by one. This is a big vegetable and so one stuffed brinjal is enough to feed two members and for a family of four two brinjals are enough. Once the brinjal is fried up remove it from the Kadhai and after it cools down a little use a knife and cut the brinjal into two pieces and it is ready to be served with a meal. Another very important vegetable fry recipe that is good for health is the Tita Kerela (Bitter Gourd) and it is best fried with potatoes. To prepare the Tita Kerela aru Aalu Bhaja select a few bitter gourds (tita kerela) and clean them properly and peel of the rough textures on the vegetable and later chop it up into smaller pieces. Mind you this is a very bitter vegetable and so if you do not like bitter food then do not prepare this recipe. Peel the potatoes as well and if you do not want to make this fry too much bitter then remove the seeds of the tita Kerela (bitter gourd). Chop an onion and peel garlic cloves and slit two green chillies. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Add the onions, garlic and green chillies and later add the chopped bitter gourds and potato in the Kadhai. Continue to fry and add salt and turmeric powder. Keep frying until the potatoes are soft and your tita Kerela aru Aalu Bhaja is ready to be served.

With all add vegetables mentioned how we can forget the King of vegetables that is added to most of the Indian vegetarian dishes and this is none other than the humble potato. The potato in village cuisine of Assam is added in various curries and fry recipes and one comfort food is the Aalo bhaja recipe that is basically the potato chopped into small pieces and fried in oil. The organically grown potatoes in the villages (that do not use any fertilizers like urea) is known to be very healthy and tasty as well and in the villages of Assam I have seen the local villagers simply boil a potato and have it with their meal by mashing it up and mixing a bit of salt and raw mustard oil to it. They King of the vegetables viz. the potato is loaded with starch and they bring in an absolutely delightful taste when just fried simply. To prepare the Aalo Bhaja recipe we will not peel the potatoes and instead we will soak the potatoes in water for some time so that the mud and dirt come out of the skin of the vegetable. Now wash them properly and chop the vegetable into small thin pieces. Chop half and onion and slit two green chillies. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Temper the oil with a bay leaf and dried red chilli. Now add the onions and the green chillies and fry for some time and later add the chopped potatoes to the Kadhai. Lower the gas flow and later add salt and turmeric powder. Cover the Kadhai with a lid and allow frying for a while. When the potatoes become soft the Aalo Bhaja is ready to be served with the meal.

The popular mashed potato recipe of the western countries is also a favoured recipe in the village cuisine of Assam as well and it is called as the Aalo Pitika in the local villages of Assam. It is another very popular comfort food in the village cuisine and the preparation is simple and this is nutritious as well. To prepare the Aalo pitika boil a few potatoes and later peel the skin once the potatoes are boiled. Now take a big bowl and out the peeled potatoes in that bowl. Chop an onion into thin pieces along with green chillies and put them in the bowl. Also chop coriander leaves and put it in the bowl along with salt and little mustard oil and mash all the ingredients in the bowl properly with your hands. Your mashed potato recipe viz. Aalo pitika is ready to be served with your meal. This version of the Aalo pitika is a favourite comfort food of the village people for breakfast. As the people in the villages go out to work early they need to eat in the morning and the only food they eat is rice and since they do not find time to prepare any curry in the morning so they take some left over curry from the previous evening and make this mashed potato recipe and eat it with rice and go about their daily tasks. This recipe goes well with pumpkin as well and this is called as the Rogalau aaru Aalo pitika. While boiling the potatoes simple add a slice of pumpkin (Ronga Lau) after you peel the outer skin of the vegetable and then boil it with the potatoes in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles. Now mix all the ingredients together and mash it up and your Ronga Lau Aalo Pitika is ready to be had with your meal.

Another accompaniment that is prepared for snacks across the village cuisine as well as the urban cuisine of Assam is the Aalo chop which is basically like a fritter that is filled with potatoes and fried. The preparation of the Aalo chop is quite simple again and the way you make the Aalo pitika is the same way to prepare the inner filling of the Aalo Chop. Now to make the batter that will coat the potato mix we will take besan (chickpea flour) and add little salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, jeera powder, dhania powder and ginger garlic paste. Add little water to this and make a paste in a bowl. Now heat vegetable oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Make small round balls with your hands with the mashed potatoes and dip them in the batter to make an even coating around the ball and put it into the oil and fry. Once you see the chop is turning golden brown it means you Aalo chop is ready to be served. Take it out from the Kadhai and put in a paper napkin to absorb the excess oil. Another version of this Chop you can make is with egg and it is called as the Koni Aalu Chop (Egg potato Chop). This is a similar preparation and the additional thing once needs to do is boil about 2 eggs and once the eggs are boiled remove the shell of the egg and chop the egg into two halves. Now take one half of the egg and coat with the mashed potatoes to form a round shape and dip this in the besan batter and fry it in the oil and the egg potato chop (Koni Aalo Chop) is ready to be served. The same can be done with bread as well and you will need to take two slices of bread and cut the bread in half diagonally in the shape of a triangle. In between the bread slices put the mashed potatoes and later dip it in the besan batter and fry it in the oil and the bread Pakora is ready to be served.

With the besan batter you can make various Pakora recipes that are very commonly eaten across the country and in Assam as well though not in the villages but in the urban areas. You can make the Aalo Pakora where you slice the potatoes into thin round pieces and drop the potato slices in the besan batter and fry them in the oil to prepare the Aalo Pakora (potato fritters). You can use various vegetables to prepare Pakora as well where you can chop the vegetables into thin slices (smaller pieces like cauliflower, bitter gourd, pumpkin, (we already made with brinjal and ladies finger), pointed gourd, etc.) Simply chop the vegetables into smaller pieces and put them in the besan batter and fry them in oil and your various vegetable Pakoras like Gobi Pakora, Tita Kerela Pakora, Ronga Lau Pakora, Potol Pakora are ready to be served with mint chutney or ketchup. But nothing beats the Pakora recipe like the Dal Pakora which is a crunchy fritter and it tastes wonderful as well. To prepare the Dal Pakora simple soak 1 cup Masor dal in water and allow soaking for 3 hours to make it soft. Now blend the dal in a blender into a coarse mixture. Take the mixture in a bowl and add little rice flour, chopped onions, chopped coriander and curry leaves. Add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and red chilli powder and mix the batter well. Now heat up vegetable oil and once the oil is hot take a spoon and take some of the batter on the spoon and put in the oil once by one. Once the Pakoras turn golden brown they are ready to be served and it tastes delicious. The dal Pakora is a very favourite urban recipe of Assam.

Coming back to the vegetable fried recipes another one is the cabbage fry recipe and it’s called as the Bandhakobi Bhaja in the village cooking of Assam. To prepare the Bandhakobi Bhaja (Cabbage fry) recipe you will need to take half of a cabbage and chop it into thin slices and clean it properly in water. There might be insects inside the cabbage so clean properly. We will also add a potato to this fry recipe and so slice the potatoes into thin pieces and mix both the vegetables together. Now chop an onion, green chillies and next chop ginger and garlic into small pieces to be added. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and add the chopped onions, ginger and garlic and chillies and later add in the chopped cabbage and the potatoes and continue to fry in the Kadhai. Now lower the gas flame and add salt and turmeric powder and continue to fry until the potatoes are soft and your Bandhakobi aru Aalo bhaja is ready to be served. Another comfort food is the Cauliflower and potato fry called as the Fulkobi aru Aalo Bhaja. Another very simple recipe to prepare you need to select a cauliflower and cut it into smaller pieces and also dice a potato in cube sized pieces. Clean both the vegetables in water and keep it aside. Now chop onions and green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaf and dried red chillies and alter add the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. After frying a while add in the chopped Cauliflower (Fulkobi) and the potato pieces into the Kadhai and continue to fry for some time. Now lower the gas flame and add in salt and turmeric powder and allow to fry for some time until the potatoes are soft and mushy and the Cauliflower and potato fry recipe is ready to be served. Another simple fry recipe is that of carrot and potato called as the Gajor aru Aalo bhaja in the village cooking recipe of Assam. Simply chop the potato and carrot in small pieces and follow the similar process by heating mustard oil and temper with dried red chillies and later fry the carrot and potatoes with onions. Add salt and turmeric powder while frying and your Gajor aru Aalu bhaja is ready.

Another of the popular accompaniments along with the food in the village cuisine of Assam is the beans fry with potato and is called as the Dangboti aru Aalu bhaja. The long beans (not french beans) is locally called as the Dangboti and is available during the summer season in Assam and this is another very simple vegetable recipe to prepare. For this we will need a handful of the Dangboti (beans) and a potato as well. Clean the beans properly with water and chop them into 1 inch sized pieces and this will help to cook them quickly and properly. Chop the potato into the same size as well. Now chop an onion, slit a green chilli and a few garlic pods. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper with dried red chillies. Add in the chopped onions and garlic into the Kadhai followed by the green chillies. Now add in the chopped beans and the potatoes (Dangboti aru Aalu) and continue to fry for some time. Lower the gas flame and keep frying until the potatoes are soft and your Dangboti aru Aalu bhaja is ready to be served with your meal.  Another popular vegetable in the village cuisine recipes of Assam cuisine is called as the Bhat Kerela (Spine Gourd) and various recipes are made from this vegetable.

The most common is the Bhat Kerela aru Aalu Bhaja (Spine gourd and potato fry where the Bhat Kerela is chopped into thin slices along with a potato. Now the rest of the recipe to prepare the Bhat Kerela aru Aalu Bhaja is similar to most of the other preparations where you heat mustard oil and temper with dried red chilli followed by adding onions, garlic, green chilli and the vegetable mix. later you add salt and turmeric powder and keep frying until the potatoes are soft and your Bhat Kerela aru Aalu bhaja is ready to be served with your meal. Another popular village recipe made with the Bhat Kerela vegetable and potato is the Bhat Kerela aru Aalu pitika (Spine Gourd and potatoes mashed). To prepare this you will need to peel the outer skin of the Bhat Kerela (Spine Gourd) and the Aalu (potato) and boil both of these in a pressure cooker for 2-3 whistles. Remove the vegetables from the pressure cooker and place in a large bowl. Now chop an onion, green chillies and coriander leaves and put this in a bowl/ Add salt and little mustard oil and mash all the ingredients together in the bowl together and this way you can prepare the Bhat Kerela aru Aalu pitika viz. mashed spine gourd and potatoes.

Another delightful recipe that is prepared with this spine gourd is the Bhat Kerela pur or stuffed Spine gourd. To prepare this recipe you will need to hollow out and empty the contents of the Bhat Kerela vegetable. Now boil a potato and once done fry it in oil with onions, green chillies, salt, turmeric powder and jeera powder. Use this mixture and stuff it inside the hollowed out Bhat Kerela (Spine gourd) and fry this in oil and your Bhat Kerela Pur is ready to be served. But the most popular food that the villagers prepare in the village cooking is the dal wherein they add all the vegetables and this acts a a sole nourishment food that accompanies a meal of rice. In villages the Dal is prepared not by pressure cooking it and instead allowing it to slowly cook in a Kadhai over wood fire. To prepare this special Dal with herbs and vegetables in the village cooking recipe of Assam, the villagers make use of various seasonal vegetables like cauliflower, Gourd, Kumura, Ladies Finger, carrots, Kosu, Ronga Lau, herbs like Lau Aag, Manimuni, Norohingho, etc. to add to the Dal during the preparations. They first start this village Dal recipe by soaking the Masor Dal and Mati Dali in water for about 3 hours that allows the dal to soak in the water and become soft.

Now they cut the vegetables and keep it aside soaked in water to prevent it from absorbing air and turning black. Now a big Kadhai is put over wood fire and mustard oil is allowed to be heated up in the Kadhai and once the oil heats up, the oil is tempered with bay leaves and dried red chillies followed by whole jeera seeds. To it later onions and chopped garlic is added and a tomato is added as well. Now it is time to put in the Dal and fry for some time and later the vegetables are added in as well and allowed to fry along with the Dal. In case the Dal is sticking to the base of the Kadhai a little water is added to prevent this and the frying process in continued. Now add salt and turmeric powder and continue frying for some time. Once you see that the Dal has turned soft and the cauliflower and potatoes have softened then it’s time to pour water into the Kadhai and bring the Dal and vegetables to a boil. Finally after allowing boiling for some more time the Dal is garnished with coriander leaves and the Dal with vegetable is ready. This can be prepared in a pressure cooker as well and at first you need to add the Dal in the pressure cooker and allow it to pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Now once the hot oil is tempered with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds add the onions and garlic and add in the vegetables and fry them for a while until they soften and later pour the dal from the pressure cooker in the Kadhai and bring it to a boil and later garnish with coriander leaves.

One very delicious vegetable is the long Gourd (Lau) and it is used to prepare a nice vegetable fry recipe. To prepare this recipe you will need to take 1/3rd of the Gourd (Lau) and chop the vegetable into smaller pieces and leave the skin on the vegetable. Take a potato and clean it properly and chop it into smaller pieces and mix both these vegetable together. Now follow the similar process as we have done for the various vegetable fry recipes viz. chop an onion, a few garlic pods and green chillies. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with a bay leaf and dried red chilli and put the onions, garlic and green chillies in the Kadhai. After frying for some time add in the chopped Lau and potato pieces and allow the vegetables to fry some time. Add salt and turmeric powder and keep frying until the potatoes are soft and your Lau Aalu bhaja is ready. This recipe goes well with an egg as well and the flavour of the Lau Aalu bhaja enhances with the egg. There is nothing more to do to the recipe other than once you see the potato has softened then break an egg and scramble it along with the vegetable fry and as the eggs will have an odour to it you can sprinkle chopped coriander on the recipe and you Lau Aalu Koni bhaja is ready to be served. Like this there are several other vegetable recipes of Assam and one can find these vegetable in any local market and follow the procedure we have narrated here and prepare a vegetable fry recipe. Certain leaves of plants are also edible and can be prepared in the similar way like Paleng Xaak, Lai Xaak, Lau Aag, etc. The Lau vegetable plant (Gourd plant) has edible leaves as well and once can pluck these leaves (Lau Aag) from the plant and prepare another vegetable fry recipe with potatoes.

Coming back to the Non vegetarian cuisine again fish is an integral part of the cuisine of the village people of Assam. As mentioned at the beginning of this page, many people in the villages have a pond at their home where they rear fish and also they have livestock as well. But as mentioned the village people of Assam do not eat too much meat and hence fish is an alternate source of protein for them. And even if they do not have a pond at their home there are enough water bodies in the villages and rivers flowing across as well that provide enough fish to feed the villagers. Fishing is an important occupation and leisure activity as well and the villagers have defined spots where they go to fish and bring back their catch either to sell or eat at their homes. The villagers prepare several recipes out of fish and vegetables and once simple village recipe is the fish fry recipe that is served as an accompaniment with meals. To prepare the fish fry recipe you need to clean the fish at first and the village people ensure that no part of the fish goes waster apart from the scales and the bile of the fish. The whole fish (if it is a large one) is chopped into smaller pieces or if the fish is small they are generally fried as a whole after removing the intestines and the bile sack of the fish. To prepare the fish fry simple smear salt and turmeric powder on the body of the fish pieces and heat up mustard oil and once the oil is hot fry the fish in the oil and once the fish turns golden brown it means it is properly fried and this is the famous Maas Bhaja (fish fry) recipe of Assam. This is served with chopped onions and green chillies and is a favourite accompaniment along with rice wine. The fish intestines are not discarded and they are fried along with rice and is called as the Masor Petu Bhat Bhaja (Fish intestines fired with rice). To prepare this clean the fish intestines in water and keep aside rubbed with salt and turmeric powder. Now chop an onion, green chillies and garlic cloves and heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai. Once the oil is hot, temper it with dried red chillies and fry the onion, garlic and green chillies and add the fish intestines. Fry for some time and later add the cooked white rice and mix well and yourcMasor Petu aru Bhat bhaja is ready to be served.

The fish intestines can be cooked without adding rice as well and instead of rice you can use tomatoes. As the fish intestines are bitter in taste therefor these additions are necessary to cut its bitter taste to an extent. To prepare this fish intestine recipe you need to follow the steps mentioned priorly to get your Masor Petu aru Bilahi Bhaja recipe. Ensure to keep the Masor Petu (Fish intestine) smeared with salt and turmeric powder for a while. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up and temper with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Now add the onions and the chopped garlic pods and fry for some time. Add the tomatoes and continue frying until the tomatoes are mushy and then add the fish intestines to the Kadhai and keep frying until all the ingredients have blended well together and chop in some coriander leaves and add this to the Masor Petu as well and this is ready to be served viz. Fish intestines with tomato. Another delicious part of the fish are the fish eggs and during the breeding season you can find the fish vendors selling these eggs and these can be used to prepare two different recipes. At first we will prepare the Masor Koni aru Aalu Bhaja (Fish eggs fried with potatoes). To prepare this recipe clean the fish eggs at first and mix with salt and turmeric powder. When you mix it the fish eggs might break but it is nothing to worry.

Now chop a potato into small sizes and also chop onions, garlic and green chillies. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with dried red chillies. Add the onions, garlic and green chillies and fry for some time and lower the gas flame and add the potatoes and keep frying. Now add the fish eggs in the Kadhai and mix well with a spatula. Mind you when you add the fish eggs they are going to splutter and so once you mix it well cover the Kadhai with a lid and allow frying for some time. When the fish eggs turn reddish brown and the potatoes are soft it means your Masor Koni aru Aalu Bhaja (Fish eggs fried with potatoes) is ready. Top with coriander leaves and serve. The second recipe is the Fish egg Pakora (Masor Koni Pakora). Another very simple recipe to prepare you will need to first clean the fish eggs and keep them is a large bowl. Now chop an onion, green chillies, tomato into small pieces and put it in the bowl with the fish eggs. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste and besan with this mixture and mix with a spoon properly. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up properly. Now lower the gas flame and use the spoon to put in the batter contents into the hot oil. Again mind you it might splutter in the oil and so be careful while adding the contents in the oil. Once you see the Pakora is turning reddish brown twist it and fry on both sides evenly and you Fish egg Pakora (Masor Koni Pakora) is ready to be served with mint (pudina) chutney.

I have mentioned about the mint chutney earlier as well and it is a very easy recipe to prepare. Across the village cuisine of Assam you will find various chutney recipes that are prepared with various ingredients. I will write about the other chutneys later but now we will prepare the Pudina (mint) chutney. Take a bunch of Pudina leaves and remove the leaf from the stem and out it in a bowl of water. Add Naga Dhania (Maan Dhania) leaves, green chillies and a tomato. Peel garlic pods and keep them whole. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the garlic cloves in the oil. Put the other ingredients from the bowl into the blender and put the garlic cloves and little salt and blend together everything. The pudina (mint) chutney is ready to be served with Pakoras or your meal. Post the COVID era when everyone speaks of boosting one’s immune system this chutney is one way to provide great inner strength to a person’s immune system as well. Coming back to the fish recipes there are various vegetables that are added to prepare the fish curries like tomato, Sajina, Cauliflower, Spinach, Lau, Kumura, Ronga Lau , etc. All of these have somewhat similar recipes and some are boiled recipes as well in the village cooking of Assam especially the Borali Maas aru Ou Tenga logot boil.

At first we will prepare the Bilahi Masor Jul (Fish in tomato curry). To prepare this fish curry of the village cooking recipe of Assam, you will need about 4 pieces of ‘Rohu’ or ‘Bhokua’ fish. Rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Now boil two potatoes in the pressure cooker and mash it up. Chop onions, green chillies, a big red tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and when the oil is hot then fry the fish pieces in the oil until they turn golden brown and remove the fish pieces. Now add the bay leaf, dried red chillies and Paanch Phuron in the oil and later add in the onions and the ginger garlic paste and fry properly. Add salt and turmeric powder and now fry the tomato in the Kadhai. Once the tomatoes are soft add the mashed potatoes and after frying for some time add water in the Kadhai and bring to a boil. Add the fish pieces in the Kadhai and once the gravy has become thick top it with coriander leaves and your Bilahi Masor Jul (Fish curry with tomato) is ready to be served. Another comfort food that is prepared in the village cooking of Assam is the Goroi Maas Pitika and is a very flavourful fish chutney recipe in the Mishing village cuisine of Assam. To prepare this take about four Goroi fish and put them in bamboo skewers and place near the fire and allow it to get roasted evenly and then after it cooks pull out the skin and keep the fish in a bowl. The Goroi fish doesn’t have too many bones and so this is used to prepare this chutney. Now add chopped onions, green chillies, coriander, salt with mustard oil and mix all these properly and your Goroi Maas Pura Pitika is ready to be served.

You can prepare this with other fish as well but at first instead of roasting the fish over fire you will have to fry the fish and prefer to use any boneless fish like Kos Maas or Aari Maas and take the flesh only and prepare this Maas Pitika or Fish pitika. Another popular village cooking fish recipe is the Fulkobi Matar aru Masor Jul (Fish curry with Cauliflower and Peas) that is another simple recipe that is made during the winter season as the Cauliflower and peas are found in the winter season in Assam. To prepare this fish recipe with Cauliflower and peas at first take a cauliflower and chop it into smaller pieces and discard the stem of the vegetable and also take out the peas from the skin and keep them aside soaked in water. Chop a potato and tomato and add it together with the cauliflower. Now take four pieces of Rohu or Bhokua (Katla) fish and smear the pieces with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Chop an onion, slit green chillies, coriander and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai (in the village cooking recipe this is made over wood fire) and allow the oil to heat up. Fry the fish pieces in the oil once it is hot and ensure the fish are fried until its golden brown. Now remove from the oil and temper the oil with bay leaf, dried red chillies and Paanch Phuron and add the onions, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies. Keep frying and later add the chopped cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes and peas. Add salt and turmeric and keep frying in low flame. Once the potatoes are soft and the tomatoes have become mushy add in water to the Kadhai and bring it to a boil. Now add in the fish pieces in the Kadhai and in some time top the curry with coriander leaves. Your Fulkobi Motor aru Masor Jul (Fish curry with cauliflower and peas) is ready to be served. Similarly you can prepare a fish curry with drumsticks as well and this is called as the Sajina logot Masor Jul (Fish curry with drumsticks). One of the very nutritious vegetables that can help boost your immune system post the COVID era se the Sajina to prepare this delightful fish curry. Simply clean the Sajina and prepare like the Fulkobi aru Masor Jul.

The next fish curry is a one filled with various herbs and it is a perfect accompaniment during the summer months where the temperatures in Assam soar above 37 degrees and the relative humidity touches at about 90% and this food is believed to cool down the human body and it is cooked with curry leaves (Norohingho), Mani Muni Xaak, Mati Kanduri Xaak, Mint (Pudina) and potatoes. Generally a smaller fish (Boriola) is used to prepare this recipe or you can use the Bhagon fish as well. To start the preparations collect all the herbs and clean them properly and put these in a blender along with ginger, garlic and green chillies and blend everything together to get a fine paste. In the villages of Assam, this blending is done on a large flat stone called as the ‘Bota’ and another smaller piece of stone is used to press against the content on the bigger stone and this allows to grind the contents on the stone. The ground contents are however not very fine as it is done in a blender but the flavours remain better. Next take the fish pieces and make a small incision on the body of the fish and this will allow absorbing the salt and turmeric powder better in the bosy of the fish and allowing this to marinate for a while. Now chop onions, tomatoes and the Naga Dhania (Man Dhania) and start by heating mustard oil in a Kadhai.

Once the oil is hot fry the fish in the oil and do it until they are golden brown and remove the fish from the oil. Now fry the potatoes in the oil and remove once done. Next temper the oil with Bay leaves and Dried red chillies and later add the onions and keep frying. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and fry until the tomatoes are mushy and add salt, turmeric powder and jeera powder and mix properly. Now add in the blended paste of the various herbs and add water and bring to a boil. Once the curry is boiling add in the fish pieces and the potatoes. Keep boiling for some time as this will allow the flavours of the herbs to soak in the fish and the juices of the fish will absorb in the curry. Once you see the gravy has turned thick it means the fish curry is ready to be served. This is a very nutritious curry as it contains some of the medicinal herbs like Mani Muni and Mati Kanduri and also the health benefits and aroma of the curry leaves and mint as well. The next recipe we will prepare is that of the fish, Gourd and ladies finger called as the Bhendi aru Lau r logot Maas Jul. This is a unique village recipe I had once tried at a remote village at Jagun in Assam and it was like the owner of the house had these vegetables in his garden and he caught some fish from the river nearby and prepared this curry in front of me.

Many people won’t be aware of this recipe as the Bhendi is mostly fried up and had and not made into a curry. But as this home in the village where I had been was in a remote place with no access to a market close by so the people staying here are self-reliant and they used to eat whatever they grew in their home gardens. Across the villages of Assam, the village folks grow their own rice and rear their own livestock and pigs and there are adequate water bodies that are abundant in fishes so they do not need to look out for the food and hence everything is at the vicinity of their homes. So when I had visited the owner’s home during my days of exploring Assam and visiting places of interest so that I could send people to these places, the owner had only two varieties of vegetables growing at his garden along with potatoes as it was the season and so he made use of these two vegetables itself to prepare this very flavourful fish curry with Bhendi and Lau. The fish he used was a Borali fish that he had caught from the river that was flowing near his house and he cleaned the fish and chopped into medium pieces and took five pieces of the fish to prepare with the curry. The Bhendi (Ladies finger) was plucked and the Lau (Gourd) as well and cleaned and chopped into medium pieces.

As this was a village environment so cooking gas was not available and all food preparations were done over wood fire. The fish pieces were first fried in the mustard oil and removed from the oil. Later onions, ginger and garlic paste and green chillies were added to the oil followed by salt and turmeric powder and the chopped vegetable of Bhendi, Lau and potatoes were added to the Kadhai and allowed to fry. Once the vegetables were soft water was added to the curry and this was allowed to boil for some time and the result fish was one of the tastiest meals I had with rice. There was no other accompaniment with the meal apart from the fish curry and rice and the natural flavours that came out of the curry were indeed delightful.

Another very flavourful fish recipe I had savoured at Majuli at Rupam’s house was the Borali Maas Ou tenga logot boil. Many of the village cooking recipes of Assam do not make use of any oil to prepare and even without the frying of the fish the meal tastes delicious with all the natural flavours of the fresh ingredients. To prepare this Borali Maas (Wallago Attu) aru Ou Tenga (Elephant Apple) boiled fish recipe you will need about five pieces of the Borali Maas (Wallago Attu) and one ripe Ou Tenga (Elephant Apple), potatoes, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, Naga Dhania, etc. At first you need to boil water in a Kadhai over the wood fire. Put the potatoes in the fire and allow roasting. Once the water comes to a boil add in the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and add salt and turmeric powder. The garlic paste you use should be generous amount as this will bring in the flavour to the boiled fish curry. Now chop up the elephant apple into pieces and mind you it is a tough vegetable to cut through so be careful not to cut your fingers. Make into small sized pieces and later add the elephant apple pieces into the curry. Now take the potatoes you had roasted in the fire and pull the skin and wash it up and put it in the curry. This will bring a unique smoky flavour to this boiled fish curry. Once the potatoes blend in properly with the curry and the Ou Tenga has started releasing its flavours in the boiled curry drop in the fish pieces and allow boiling in medium fire. After about 10 minutes add the chopped Naga Dhania into the curry and your Borali Maas aru Ou Tenga boil is ready to be served with rice. This curry is loaded with the health benefits of the Ou Tenga, garlic and Naga Dhani. The Ou Tenga (Elephant Apple) has numerous health benefits like curing stomach ailments, protect kidneys, delayed aging, boosts immunity, good for eyes, lower blood pressure, etc. and this coupled with the Naga Dhania that has immense flavour as well as health benefits.

The next fish curry recipe is with Kosu (Colocasia) stem and leaves and it is a very flavourful fish recipe of the village cooking recipe of Assam. We had cooked the Kosu (Colocasia) stem and leaves earlier with pork meat and this time we will prepare it with the fish. For this recipe you need to use the Bhangon fish which is a very popular fish in the cuisine of Assam and people generally eat this fish in several of the fish recipes we had prepared earlier. To prepare this recipe we will need about 3 pieces of whole Bhangon fish and we need to clean these and chop it into half and make incision on the body of the fish. Now smear the fish body with salt and turmeric powder. Now chop the Kosu (Colocasia) stem into 2 pieces and pull out the skin of the stem and take a large bowl and put the stem and the young leaves of the Colocasia stem and pour water and salt in the bowl and boil the stem and leaves of the Kosu stem. This is needed as the Kosu stem might cause itchiness once consumed and boiling will allow removing this sensation from the throat. After the stem becomes soft drain the water and keep them aside. Chop the oniosn, potato into thin slices and tomatoes, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and at first once the oil is hot fry the fish pieces in the oil.

Now remove the fish pieces from the oil and temper the oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Add the chopped onions and the green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry well for some time. Now add the boiled Kosu stem and leaves in the Kadhai and mix well with the ingredients and fry for some time. Add salt and turmeric powder and keep frying. Now add the potatoes and keep frying until the Kosu stem have become soft and later add in the chopped tomatoes. This is a very important step as the tomatoes help to remove the itchy property of the Kosu stem and continue frying till the tomatoes become mushy. Now add water in the Kadhai and bring the curry to a boil. Once the curry is boiling add the fish pieces in the curry and continue to boil until the water from the Kadhai has evaporated because we do not want too much gravy for this Maas aru Kosu recipe. Once the gravy has become thick your fish with Colocasia (maas aru Kosu) recipe is ready to be served. This recipe goes very well with the fish head as well and you will need the fish head of any big fish like Bhokua, Rohu or Glass Carp fish variety chopped into two halves and remove the gills of the fish from the fish head.

Fry the fish head properly in oil and once done follow the same procedure as we had taken while cooking the fish with Colocasia plant. The fish head is a very delicious recipe as well and it is to be cooked with certain vegetables or dal to get the authentic taste of the fish head. We have already prepared the fish head recipe with Mogu Dali and Kosu and another vegetable that enhances the flavours of the fish head is the Lau (Gourd). To prepare the Maas Matha aru Lau recipe you will need about one big fish head preferably of the Bhokua fish and this head has to be chopped in half before we start with the recipe. Marinate the fish head with salt and turmeric powder and allow resting for a while. In the meantime prepare the other ingredients for the recipe viz. chop the Lau into smaller pieces as this will allow the vegetable to cook faster, chop onions, green chillies, coriander leaves, tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in the Kadhai and at first fry the fish head in the oil and ensure to fry it properly so that the fish head becomes crunchy. Now remove the fish head from the Kadhai and temper the oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies and Paanch Phuron. Fry the onions and the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and add in the chopped Lau vegetables in the Kadhai.

Keep frying this and later add salt and turmeric powder and mix properly. Once the Lau becomes soft add in the chopped tomatoes to the Kadhai and fry until the tomato has become mushy. Now add water in the Kadhai and bring the curry to a boil. Once the curry is boiling add the fish head in the Kadhai and allow boiling until the water had evaporated because in this recipe as well too much gravy is not desirable. Once the water has evaporated garnish with coriander leaves and your Masor Matha aru Lau (Fish head with Gourd recipe) is ready to be served with rice. Another very simple fish recipe in the Assamese cuisine is the Bilahi Maas or fish cooked in tomato sauce. This is a comfort food and generally had in the urban households of Assam. To prepare this fish recipe we marinate the fish with salt and turmeric powder. For this recipe, blend onions in a blender and also tomato and keep them separately. Make a paste of ginger and garlic and green chillies as well. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish pieces in the oil and remove it once they turn golden brown. Now temper the oil with bay leaf and dried red chillies and put in the onion paste and fry for some time. Add the ginger garlic paste and later add the tomato paste. Add salt and turmeric and pour water and bring to a boil and add the fish pieces. Allow the water to evaporate and let the gravy turn thick. Your Bilahi Maas is ready to be served with rice.

Another one of the very flavourful and delicious recipes is the Jaluk aru Norohingho dia Masor Jul (Fish curry cooked with pepper corns, curry leaves and potatoes). And one fish that comes to mind in the village cooking recipe of Assam is the Kawoi fish (Anabas Testudineus) that is found in the numerous local water bodies during the monsoon season of Assam. People put out nets in the evening and in the morning they have a good catch of the Kawoi fish species along with other like Magur and Hingi. These fishes are able to do deep underground and have the even survive there in the dry winter season in the swamps when the water dries up and so when the rain pours down in the monsoon they come afloat and often get caught in the nets. These fish species have very strong bones and one has to be very careful while eating them or else the bone might get caught in your throat as well as your teeth. But it is one of the very delicious fish species of Assam and once cooked with pepper and curry leaves this is very nutritious and healthy as well. To prepare this fish recipe you will need about 5-6 Kawoi fish and before you clean them ensure to add salt in the dish you kept them because this will humanely kill the fish as they have sharp scales and they keep jumping out of one’s hands. Once you clean the fish ensure to chop of the mouth as the teeth of the Kawoi fish are very sharp and you do not want to swallow them by mistake.

Once the fish is cleaned up then rub salt and turmeric powder on the body of the fish and keep it aside. Take a bunch of Norohingho (Curry leaves) and grind them in a blender to get an even paste of the Norohingho paat. Crush the whole black pepper into a powder form in a hand pounder and keep aside. Chop an onion, potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the potatoes and keep aside and later fry the Kawoi fish pieces in the oil. Remove the fish once done and later temper the oil with dried red chillies and whole Jeera seeds. Now add in the onions, ginger garlic paste followed by salt and turmeric powder and keep frying. Later add the tomato and fry until the tomatoes are mushy. In case you see the mix sticking to the bottom of the Kadhai then add some water to the Kadhai. Now add in the Norohingho leaves paste (curry leaves) that we had cooked and allow to come to a boil by adding some water. Later add the ground pepper corn, the potatoes and the Kawoi fish and keep boiling the curry for some time and allow the flavours of the Norohingho leaves and the pepper to be absorbed in the body of the Kawoi fish. The resultant gravy that you get will be loaded with the flavours of the curry leaves, pepper corns and the Kawoi fish. Top the gravy with some Naga Dhania as well and your Jaluk aru Norohingho dia Masor Jul is ready to be served.

Another very popular village recipe of Assam is the Masor Matha aru Omita (raw papaya) Khar. As mentioned earlier Khar is an alkaline ingredient derived from the stem of the banana plant and this helps to cool the stomach and as the raw papaya blooms in the summer season so both these when eaten together helps a person’s body to cool in the warm weather. The monsoon season in Assam is very hot and humid and the relative humidity often hovers above 90% and this makes your body to lose adequate water and salt and so one has to stay hydrated. But nature has its own way of helping people to stay cool and one way is the food that nature provides during the monsoon season to beat the humidity and heat. For ex. During the summer the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost pepper) or the Naga King Chilly blooms in Assam and it lasts up to October at a time when the weather remains hot and humid with the occasional rainfall. The Bhut Jolokia is the hottest non hybrid pepper in the World and it has a specific property that allows the body to cool down once consumed. Similarly various other herbs like Meseka Tenga (Roselle) leaves flower that is able to lower the body temperature due to its sour taste. The Thekera Tenga fruit is a very nutritious fruit used to make Sherbet and even a tangy fish curry recipe and this cools the body as well. The very nutritious Ou tenga also helps these properties as well.

To prepare the Omita aru Masor Matha Khar recipe you will need to clean the fish head chopped into two pieces and clean it properly and rub with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Now take one raw papaya and peel the outside skin and remove the seeds from the inside of the fruit. There will be an inner membrane as well and slice it out as sometime this might taste bitter. Now chop the papaya into small pieces and keep aside. Now chop an onion, make a paste of ginger and garlic, slit green chillies and take about 3-4 ginger leaves and keep aside. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot, fry the fish head pieces in the oil and ensure to deep fry the heads. Now remove from the hot oil and temper the oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies, chopped onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. Now add salt and turmeric powder and add in the chopped raw papaya pieces in the Kadhai. Keep frying and occasionally add little water so that the papayas become mushy after frying. Add few drops of the Khar in the curry and now add the in the fish head pieces in the Kadhai and mix properly and later top it with the ginger leaves. This will not be a gravy dish but thick gravy mostly with the papaya and it is a very flavourful and delicious recipe.

You can replace the fish head with the fish pieces as well and it will be delicious too but the most favoured is the fish head and the fish is used to prepare another recipe with the Meseka Tenga (Roselle leaves). Again known to flower in the summer season we had prepared a special crab recipe with the Bodo cuisine along with this Meseka Tenga and this time we will prepare a curry with fish pieces. Take a bunch of Meseka Tenga (Roselle) leaves and keep them soaked in water for some time. Now boil two potatoes and mash them up into a paste. Take the fish pieces (about 5 pieces) and rub them with salt and turmeric powder. Chop onion, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the fish pieces in the oil and remove them. Next temper the oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch phuron. Add in the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. Keep frying for some time and add the Meseka Tenga leaves. This will need a little frying for the flavours of the leaves ot come out. Now add in the mashed potatoes and fry properly until the potatoes take the colour of the Roselle leaves. Now add water to the Kadhai and bring to a boil and add in the fish pieces. Allow to boil for some time and later top with Naga Dhania and your fish curry with Meseka Tenga (Roselle) leaves is ready to be served with rice.

Another fish head recipe is with Kumura (White Gourd) vegetable and this is a very simple preparation that is done by my mother. This recipe is cooked in a pressure cooker and the flavours of the fish head blend very well with the Kumura (White Gourd) vegetable. To prepare this recipe chop onions, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Rub salt and turmeric powder on the fish head and keep them aside for some time. Now heat mustard oil in a pressure cooker and at first fry the fish head pieces in the oil and bring them out. Now temper the oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds. Add in the chopped onions, chillies and the ginger garlic paste and add the chopped Kumura pieces and potatoes as well.  Fry for some time and add salt and turmeric powder. Add in the fish heads and after frying for some time add little water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Once the air is released from the pressure cooker open the lid and check for the bones of the fish head. Remove the thin bones and top with fresh coriander leaves. Your Kumara aru Masor Matha is ready to be served. Be careful while eating this as the bones are present and carefully remove the bones while eating this delightful curry.

Another popular village cooking recipe is the Horioh aru Maas (fish cooked with mustard paste) and we have already prepared this recipe of mustard seeds with the Drumstick vegetable but this time we will prepare it with the fish. To prepare the Horioh aru Maas recipe we will need a handful of mustard seeds and you can either make them into a paste by using a ‘Bota’ stone mixer or you can use a blender as well but ensure not to add too much water because we will not make too much of a gravy and the flavour of the mustard seeds should be strong for this fish recipe. We will take the Boriola Maas for this recipe as the flavours of mustard go very well with this fish and also the very famous Hilsa fish that is a delight in the Bengali cooking recipe. Take the Boriola Maas about (5 pieces) as they are not very large in size and rub salt and turmeric powder on the fish and keep it aside. Now chop green chillies and onions into thin slices and make a paste of ginger and garlic only. Heat up mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish in the oil and make sure to allow one side of the fish to fry properly or else it will break when you turn the fish around. Now remove the fish and keep aside and temper the oil with bay leaf and dried red chillies. Add in the chopped onions, green chillies and the garlic paste and fry well.

Now add in the mustard paste to the Kadhai and mix properly. Too much frying is not desired and instead just add little water and allow to boil and add the fish pieces. Allow the fish to soak in the flavours of the mustard and garnish with coriander leaves and your Boriola Maas aru Horioh recipe is ready to be served. The Hilsa fish recipe that is cooked in certain urban households of Assam is prepared in a complete differed way. My mother used to prepare this in a pressure cooker and she followed a very simple recipe to prepare this. To prepare the Hilsa fish in mustard paste (Ilish Maas aru Horioh recipe) my mother used to take an inner compartment of the pressure cooker and after cleaning two large pieces of the Hilsa (Ilish) fish she used to place the fish pieces in this compartment and rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Then she would pour the ground mustard paste on top of the fish followed by a little mustard oil and more salt and few green chillies. Then she would allow the container to the put in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for about 2-3 whistles. After the cooker releases the air on its own, the gravy would be topped with finely chopped coriander leaves and this would be one of the favourite fish curry recipes we would savour at our home.

The Hilsa fish (Ilish) has many bones though so one has to be very careful while chewing on the fish. And also mind you that this is a very expensive fish and one has to negotiate properly with the vendor while buying it because the fish comes all the way from Bangladesh at first to Kolkata and then to Assam. The Bengali people love the Hilsa fish and it is very common fish in their cuisine. Another very popular fish that is prepared with mustard is the village cooking recipe of Assam is the Sital fish (Knife head fish). The Sital fish is one of the very popular fish variants found in Assam and it is found in numerous water bodies like lakes and swamps of the state. The ‘Chitala Chitala’ as this fish is called in English grows quite big in size and the pieces that are obtained after slicing the fish is very big. Generally this is a moderately prized fish costing about INR 500 per kg in places in Assam and often no one buys it as a whole and instead three families get together and buy one fish because one fish itself weighs at least 3 kg and more and buying the bigger the fish the better the taste as the oil content of the Sital fish is more. To prepare the Sital fish recipe follow the same recipe we had done to prepare the Boriola fish recipe where we had ground the mustard seeds into a paste and rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric.

The Sital fish has many bones in the body and when buying the fish from the vendor ask him to make straight incisions of the body of the fish.  This way once you fry the fish you will not feel the bones so much once you chew the fish. Follow this procedure and the Sital Maas aru Horioh jul will be ready to be served. Another way to cook the Sital Maas is with tomatoes that makes rich gravy. To prepare the Sital Maas aru Bilahi Jul you will need to take four pieces of Sital fish and rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder. Now make a paste by blending the onions and also make a paste of the tomatoes. Make a paste of ginger and garlic as well and also chop a few green chillies. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and at first fry the potatoes in the oil that have been chopped into thin slices and later fry the Sital Maas pieces in the oil. Remove the fish and potatoes and keep aside. Now temper the oil with bay leaf, dried red chillies and paanch phuron and later add the onion paste and fry for some time. Add in the green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry sometime and add jeera powder. Now add in the tomato paste and fry for some time in low flame later add little water and bring ot a boil. Now put the potatoes and the Sital Maas pieces in the gravy and allow to simmer for some time and later garnish with coriander leaves and your Sital Maas aru Bilahi recipe is ready.

Coming back to another wonder ingredient of the village cooking of Assamese cuisine is the bamboo shoot or the Bahor Gaaz and the villagers also prepare a wonderful fish curry recipe with this bamboo shoot and the best is that it is a boiled recipe that doesn’t make use of oil and hence it is very good for your stomach as well with the various nutrients of the bamboo shoot in the dish. To prepare this fish curry with bamboo shoot recipe it is better to take the Borali fish (Wallago Attu) as the flavour of this fish goes well with the bamboo shoot and the boiled recipe. Clean the fish pieces and rub with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Now chop an onion, make a paste of ginger and garlic and slit green chillies and also chop a tomato. Boil two potatoes and later chop them into four pieces each. Now take a Kadhai and put it over wood fire and pour a decent amount of water in the Kadhai and bring to a boil. Add in the chopped onions, tomatoes and the ginger garlic paste and allow boiling. Now add in the potato pieces in the boiling water and continue to boil the curry. Add salt and little turmeric powder and add in the fresh bamboo shoot in this mixture. Once the gravy turns thick due to the potatoes being dissolved in the water add in the fish pieces and allow boiling for some more time and later garnishing with fresh coriander leaves. Your fish curry with bamboo shoot (Bahor Gaaz aqru Masor Jul) is ready to be served.

Please note that the bamboo shoot has a slight odour to it and it might not be appealing to some people and hence only prepare this recipe if you are okay with the aroma and flavours of the bamboo shoot. Another wonder vegetable in the Assamese cuisine is called as the Jika (Ridge Gourd) and this vegetable is often used to prepare fish curry recipes in the village cooking of Assam. A long and pointed vegetable, the Jika is supposed to be consumed when the vegetable is unripe because once it ripens up it becomes fibrous and is not edible henceforth. Ridge gourd has various health benefits as it helps in weight loss, improves behaviour, relieves pain, treats fungal infections, prevention of sinusitis, etc. So when you prepare this vegetable into a curry with fish it not only brings in the health benefits of the vegetable to your body but also brings in a wonderful taste to the fish curry as well. To start with the Jika fish recipe we will use the Hol maas that is another very popular fish in the Assamese cuisine. The Hol Maas (Murrel fish) is a very delicious fish and the flavours of this fish blends well with the Ridge gourd (Jika) vegetable.

As the Hol Maas is not a very big fish hence you can use one fish to prepare the fish curry recipe and do not discard the heads and instead add it to the curry as well. Similarly, take a ridge gourd (Jika) and chop it into thin round pieces and keep them aside. Rub salt and turmeric powder on the body of the fish pieces and keep them aside. Chop onions, tomatoes, potato into thin slices and make a paste of garlic and ginger. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot, fry the fish in the oil and ensure to fry them until they appear to be crunchy. Take out the fish and keep it aside. Now temper the hot oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and later add in the chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste. Now add in the Jika pieces and the chopped potatoes and allow to fry for some time in medium heat. Once you see the potatoes have turned soft then add salt and turmeric powder and add in the chopped tomatoes over the curry and allow to fry until the tomatoes have become soft. Occasionally add little water so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the Kadhai. Add in water and bring to a boil and later add in the Hol Maas pieces in the Kadhai and allow the curry to boil for some time. Break in the potato that were added to the curry and this will allow the gravy to become thick and your fish curry with ridge gourd and Murrel fish (Jika aru Hol Maasor Jul) is ready to be served.

The Jika vegetable can also be made in a fry recipe and to prepare this simple chop the gourd into small round pieces and also chop a potato into thin slices. Also chop an onion, garlic and green chillies. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper with dried red chillies and later fry in the onions, garlic and add in the chopped Jika (ridge gourd) and the potatoes. Continue frying for some time and once the potatoes are soft it means the fry is ready to be served with a meal. The Jika aru Alu bhaja (Ridge gourd and potato fry) is a common cuisine in the villages of Assam.

Another popular summer dish in the village cooking recipe of Assam is the Thekera Tenga aru Masor Jul (Garcinia pedunculate with fish recipe). This magic fruit is found in the summer season and it’s inside flesh is dried up and stored for later usage. Though the main use of the Thekera tenga is to prepare Sherbet by simple soaking the dried Thekera tenga in water and using the water to drink with little sugar that gives a very soothing taste to the Sherbet and it is filled with a lot of nutrition that the body needs in the humid weather of Assam as the body loses adequate water and salt during perspiration. Now to prepare the Thekera Tenga logot Masor Jul you will need about 3-4 pieces of Roop Sanda fish and marinate the fish with turmeric powder and salt. Soak in the dried Thekera Tenga in a bowl of water and leave it aside for about 30 minutes. Take a few green chillies and slit into half and also chop a small onion and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish pieces at first. The Roop Sanda (Red Pacu) fish is a fish belonging to the Pompret family and it is loaded with oil in the fish body and so one has to be careful while frying the fish because it might splutter in the oil and so be careful while frying it. Once fried remove the fish from the Kadhai and temper the oil with dried red chillies and whole jeera and later add in the onions and ginger and garlic paste and fry for some time. Next add in the chopped green chillies and add the water in which the Thekera Tenga was kept along with the Thekera Tenga pieces and bring the curry to a boil. Once the curry is boiling add in the fish pieces and allow simmering for some time. Your Mass aru Thekera Tenga Jul (Fish curry with Thekera Tenga) is ready to be served.

This is a Tangy fish curry and the addition of green chillies brings in a spicy flavour as well. So when you savour this fish curry with rice there will be a blast of flavours in your mouth as the tanginess will relieve you from the heat and the spiciness will allow you to perspire as well. Coming to another boiled fish recipe of Assam is the Paleng Xaak aru Ronga Lau Maas boil. The Paleng Xaak or the spinach leaves is a very nutritious herb in the village cooking cuisine of Assam and it has a very delightful flavour as well. The Ronga Lau is the pumpkin and another very nutritious fibre rich vegetable of the Assamese cuisine. We will make us of the Borali fish as this goes well with the boil fish recipes in the village cooking of Assam and to begin the preparations rub the fish pieces with turmeric powder and keep aside. Now chop the Paleng (Spinach) vegetable and also the pumpkin in medium sized pieces. Don’t make the pumpkin pieces too small as this will allow the pumpkin to melt in the gravy while boiling. Heat water in a Kadhai and add in the Paleng leaves and the pumpkin and bring to a boil. Add ginger garlic paste and green chillies followed by salt and put in the pieces of potato as well. Continue boiling until you see that the Paleng leaves have softened and the pumpkin pieces as well. Now add in the turmeric coated fish pieces and keep boiling until the gravy turns thick. Your Paleng Xaak aru Ronga Lau Maas boil is ready to be served.

The banana plant is a very diverse and resourceful plant as mentioned earlier because the entire part of the plant can be used in some form or way either in edible form or the leaves can be used to serve and pack food and prepare the steamed fish recipes. The banana fruit as everyone is aware of as one of the most nutritious sweet fruits that is present but did you know that when these banana fruits are unripe they can be used to prepare fish curry as well as a fry recipe as well. The raw banana fruit is called as the ‘Kaas Kol’ is the local village cooking of Assam and it is a very flavourful veg recipe as well. In the village cooking the ‘Kaas Kol’ can be simply fried in little oil and this becomes a wonderful fry recipe. To prepare the Kaas Kol Bhaja simply take 3 pieces of this raw banana and chop them into small pieces. Heat little mustard oil in the Kadhai and once the oil is hot put in the Kaas Kol pieces in the Kadhai and fry for some time and later add salt and turmeric powder. Keep frying in low flame and your Kaas Kol Bhaja is ready to be served. Another fish recipe can also be prepared with the Kaas Kol and for this recipe you will need to use the Roop Sanda fish. At first clean the fish and rub salt and turmeric powder on the body of the fish and keep aside.

Take 3 pieces of Kaas Kol and chop these into rectangular sized pieces and also take a big potato and chop it into pieces similar in shape as the Kaas Kol. Chop an onion, green chillies, and tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry in the potatoes and keep them aside. Now fry in the fish pieces and fry them properly on both sides and keep aside. Now temper the oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and later add in the chopped onions. Fry for some time and add in the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies. Keep frying and later add the chopped Kaas Kol pieces and fry for some time and later add the fried potatoes and the tomatoes. Keep frying while adding little water occasionally to see to it that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the Kadhai. Once the Kaas Kol is soft add in water to the Kadhai and bring it to a boil. Now add in the fish pieces and continue boiling for some time until your curry is ready and top with coriander leaves. Your Kaas Kol aru Masor Jul (Fish curry cooked with raw bananas) is ready to be served.

Another very important ingredient that is used in the village cooking of Assam and parts of Meghalaya and Nagaland as well is the sesame seeds. It is locally called as the ‘Til’ seeds and it is a very nutritious seed as well that helps in controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, cleaning the stomach, good source of energy, good for eyes, good for skin and teeth, hair growth, anti-ageing, etc. These seeds are used in preparing various meat recipes of pork, chicken and even preparing fish recipe as well.  The village people of Assam believe that food is their medicine and hence they know the use of certain ingredients that help in keeping their body fit as well. The sesame seed is one such wonder diet and we will at first prepare a pork recipe with the sesame seeds (Til). To begin with we will take about 50 gm. of sesame seeds and at first fry the Til (sesame) seeds in the Kadhai for about a minute and later allow it to cook and make a paste of the sesame seeds. Now take a pressure cooker and clean the chopped pork (about 500 gm.) and add in little salt and turmeric powder and allow to pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Let the cooker release the air on its own and later keep the meat and discard the water. This will remove the possible bacteria from the pork meat and keep it aside. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic.

Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper the oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Add in the onions, ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry for some time. Add in salt and turmeric powder and fry for some time. Add in salt and turmeric powder and add in the boiled pork meat and keep frying over low flame. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and keep frying until the toamtoes have melted completely and got mixed with the pork meat. Now put in the paste of the sesame seeds we had prepared earlier and add little water and keep frying until the water has evaporated. Your Pork with sesame seeds (Til dia Gahori Mankho) is ready to be served. This recipe can be prepared with fish as well and you can again use the Roop Sanda fish to prepare the recipe of Maas aru Til (Fish with sesame seeds). Follow the same recipe that we sued to prepare the Til dia Gahori Mankho and instead of following the boiling process at first rub the fish pieces with salt and turmeric powder and fry the fish in hot oil at first and later follow the similar procedure to prepare the Maas aru Til recipe (Fish with sesame seeds). You can also replace the pork meat with chicken and to prepare with chicken this Kukura Mankho aru Til recipe is much easier because you do not need to boil the chicken meat at first. If you are using broiler chicken then simply make the paste of the sesame seeds at first.

Now heat oil in a Kadhai and temper the oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Add in the chopped onions, green chillies and ginger garlic paste and fry well and add in the chicken pieces and add salt, turmeric powder and jeera powder. Allow this to fry on low flame for a while. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and fry by adding little water. Once done add in the sesame paste and fry until the water has evaporated and you are left with thick gravy. Your Kukura Mankho Til Dia (Chicken cooked with sesame seeds) is ready to be served with white rice. Another common fish recipe in the village cooing of Assam is the Dhekia Xaak aru Masor Jul (Fish curry with Fiddlehead ferns). As mentioned earlier and we even prepared various recipes with this Dhekia leaves (Fiddlehead ferns) and so in the village cooking a special recipe of prepared with this Fiddlehead fern and the Bhangon fish. The river fishes taste very different from the ones that are raised in a fishery and one best example of how these two fishes taste different is the Bhangon fish (Boga Labeo) and once you eat this fish that has been caught from the river and taste the similar fish raised in fisheries you can feel the difference in taste. The river fishes feed on a natural diet and hence they are very tasty and nutritious and if the fish is caught from the Brahmaputra river in Assam then there Is no doubt that it will be some of the tastiest fresh water fish you will eat.

Though the fish has numerous small bones but when fried properly you can chew the bones away. To prepare this Dhekia aru Masor Jul you will need a bunch of the Dhekia leaves (Fiddlehead ferns) and use your hands to break the bunch into smaller pieces and discard them towards the end of the stem. Wash this properly as the Dhekia grows in the forests and so there will be small insects and it will go out once you clean them properly after soaking in water. Now chop a potato into thin slices and keep aside in water or else it will turn black. Now clean the fish and chop the whole fish into two pieces and make straight incisions in the fish body with a sharp knife. Rub salt and turmeric powder on the body of the fish and keep aside. Chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the fish pieces in the oil. Allow one side to fry properly or else the fish will break while turning it. Once the fish pieces are fried properly on both sides remove from the Kadhai and keep it aside. Now temper the oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and add the onions, ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry for some time. Add in the chopped Dhekia Xaak (Fiddlehead ferns) and the potatoes and keep frying some time and add salt and turmeric powder.

Once the potatoes are soft add in water and bring to a boil. Now add in the fish pieces and continue to boil for some more time. Your Dhekia aru Masor Jul (Fiddlehead ferns curry with fish) is ready to be served with rice. The final fish preparations of the village cuisine of Assam are the tamarind fish curry with vegetables. To be savoured during the summer season in Assam when the weather is hot and humid you can use the available vegetables like Kumura (White Gourd) and Ronga Lau (Pumpkin) to prepare this recipe. Due to the tangy flavour of the fish curry you will need to spice it up with green chillies to balance the taste. We will use the Aari fish to prepare this recipe as this is an oily fish and its flavour will blend well with the curry. To prepare this soak the tamarind seeds in water for some time and this allows the flavours to blend in the water. Take the Aaru fish pieces and rub salt and turmeric oil on the body of the fish and rest for a while. Chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Peel and chop the vegetables and potato and cut it into big chunks and allow to pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Let the pressure cooker release the air and now heat oil in a Kadhai. Once the oil is hot fry the fish pieces and keep the lid covered as the fish might splutter. Remove the fish and fry the bay leaf, red chillies, onions, ginger garlic paste, green chillies and tomatoes. Add the vegetables in the Kadhai and later bring to a boil by adding water. Now add in the fish pieces and pour the tamarind water and cook until the water evaporated and left with a thick gravy. Your Teteli Masor Jul Kumura aru Ronga Lau logot (Fish curry in tamarind with pumpkin and White Gourd) is ready to be served with rice.

As we know by now that most of the people in the villages of Assam have their own ponds where they breed the fish and similarly they also rear livestock as well including chicken and ducks. And as these livestock once they breed lay eggs and with more number of offspring’s it means the more number of eggs. Hence the people in the villages use these eggs to provide their body with the protein requirements and also they keep the half of it foe the breeding of livestock as well. These chicken and ducks are not raised in farms and hence they live around freely wherein the owner lets them lose in the morning and they go about feeding near the surroundings and by dusk they return back to the house and enter their cages on their own. As they feed on the natural diet around them so they turn to be very healthy and lay protein rich eggs as well. So these eggs become an important diet in the village cuisine where the villagers prepare these eggs into recipes as simple as the hard boiled eggs, omelettes and even ones where these are made with vegetables into a curry. The favourite remains of the scrambles eggs or as it is called as the Koni Bhaja recipe of the village cuisine of Assam. To prepare the Koni Bhaja (scrambled eggs) recipe of if the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine we will need about 3 eggs. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomato and coriander leaves.

Heat with mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with dried red chilli and put in the onions and the green chillies. Fry these well and later put in the chopped tomatoes and add in salt and turmeric powder. Once the tomatoes are soft break the eggs and put in the Kadhai and discard the shells. Once it is fried up and then the eggs turn golden brown add in the coriander leaves and the Koni Bhaja (scrambled eggs) recipe is the village cuisine of Assam is ready to be served. The Koni Mamlette is the village recipe version of the egg omelette and it is cooked in a similar style to the general egg omelette where we take about 2 county chicken eggs and break them into a bowl. In the same bowl we add chopped onions, green chillies, tomatoes, coriander leaves, and salt and turmeric powder and mix them properly in the bowl. Now we take a Tawa that is a flat cooking version of the frying pan and generally it is a not stick version as in the village we often find one that is made of cast iron and it is often used to prepare rotis. Put the Tawa over the wood fire and once it is hot add little mustard oil on the Tawa and move the Tawa in a circular fashion so that the oil spreads evenly across the surface. Now when you see smoke coming out of the Tawa remove it from the fire and place it on the ground and pour in the egg batter on the Tawa and use a spoon to spread it evenly across the Tawa surface.

Put the Tawa with the egg on it over the fire and allow to cook for a while and flip over the egg and let is cook on both sides. Your egg Mamlette (egg Omelette) in the village cooking recipe of Assam is ready to be served. Nothing beats an evening snack like hard boiled eggs and it is common in the villages of Assam to serve hard boiled eggs with garnishing as accompaniments during the evening rice wine savouring moments. As certain time life is hard in these villages and people find it difficult to make ends meet especially during the monsoon season and so buying fish or any meat becomes a challenge. And slaughtering a livestock each evening is never an options because of the slower growth rate of these birds. So the best evening snacks becomes these hard boiled country chicken or duck eggs along with a salad recipe. To prepare the Moil Koni (Hard Boiled eggs) recipe in the village cooking of Assam take about 4-5 country chicken eggs/duck eggs and put them in a saucer with adequate water and add some salt to this water. The salt lowers the boiling point of water so the water boils faster. Now put the saucer over the wood foe and allow the eggs in the water to come to a boil.

In the meantime chop an onion into small pieces, green chillies, tomato and coriander leaves. All of these vegetable have to be chopped finely. Once the eggs are boiled remove the shells from the eggs and chop the eggs into half and place them on a plate. Sprinkle some salt and red chilli powder on these boiled eggs and later put the mixture of the onions, green chillies, tomatoes and coriander leaves and your Boil Koni (Hard boiled eggs) presented in the village cooking recipe of Assam is ready to be served. Eggs are a good source of protein and the ones derived from the country chicken are very nutritious though I cannot say the same about the ones derived from the farm raised broiler chicken. Even the duck eggs are a great source of nutrition because these are raised in the natural environment and they feed on all organic produce especially in a village surrounding where pollution is minimal. We will prepare a Duck egg recipe (Hahor Koni Lau r logot) that is a favoured village cooking recipe of Assam and it can also be done with the country chicken eggs. To prepare this recipe of Hahor Koni aru Lau (Duck eggs with Gourd) you will need about 4 duck eggs. These duck eggs can be easily differentiated from the chicken eggs because they are slightly bigger in size and also the colour is not as bright as the chicken eggs as the shells have a light brown colour.

Boil these duck eggs in water and in the meantime chop an onion, green chillies, make a paste of ginger and garlic, tomatoes and chop the Lau (Gourd) into small pieces along with the skin of the vegetable that is rich in fibre. Once the eggs are boiled remove the shells and using a knife make straight incisions on the eggs and mix with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil heats up fry the duck eggs in the oil and be careful as the eggs might splutter in the oil. Once the eggs are fried properly remove them from the oil and keep aside. Now temper the oil with a bay leaf and dried red chilli and add the chopped onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. Now add in the Lau (Gourd) pieces in the Kadhai and continue to fry for some time. Lower the gas and allow the Lau pieces to cook and add in salt and turmeric powder. Later add in the tomatoes and fry for a while buy adding little water in the Kadhai. Once the tomato and the Lau are soft pour in water in the Kadhai and bring to a boil and put the fried eggs in the Kadhai and keep boiling until you have thick gravy. Top with coriander leaves and your Hahor Koni aru Lau (Duck eggs cooked with Gourd) is ready to be served.

Another vegetable that goes well with the chicken as well as duck eggs is the Pumpkin (Ronga Lau) and now we will prepare the Ronga Lau aru Koni (Eggs cooked in pumpkin gravy). To prepare this recipe take about 4 chicken/duck eggs in a pressure cooker and also add in a pumpkin chopped in four pieces and its skin peeled out and a big potato chopped it in four pieces. Now pressure cook all these for about 2-3 whistles because if we overdo then the eggs might break and it won’t be good to prepare the curry. Now take out the eggs and remove the shells and make incision with a knife on the eggs and rub salt and turmeric powder on the eggs and keep aside. In the cooker mash the pumpkin and the potatoes. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomato, coriander leaves and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the egg pieces and keep them aside. Now temper the hot oil with bay leaf and dried red chilli and add in the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry for a while. Add salt and turmeric powder and later add in the tomatoes in the Kadhai and fry until the tomatoes are mushy. Now put the content of the pressure cooker viz. the mashed pumpkin and potatoes in the Kadhai and bring it to a boil. Add in the fried eggs and continue to boil for some time until the gravy turns thick. Top with coriander leaves and your Ronga Lau aru Koni (eggs cooked in pumpkin gravy) is ready to be served.

The next recipe we will prepare is the Fulkobi aru Koni Jul (Egg curry with Cauliflower). The Cauliflower is a very delicious vegetable that grows during the inter season in Assam and most of the fields in the villages of Assam are filled with the growth of this vegetable during the winter season. To prepare this village recipe we will need a medium sized cauliflower and clean the vegetable by chopping the cauliflower into medium sized pieces and keeping them in a bowl of water as there might be insects in the organically grown vegetable and this way they will come out of the vegetable. Also take about two medium sized potatoes and chop them up into four pieces each and if the potato is an organically grown one then do not peel of the skin of the vegetable. The potato skin is rich in fibre and hence it is goods for bowel movements but if the potato is not an organic one then peel off the skin because these are grown with lots of fertilizers and the skin is not good then. Now take four country chicken/duck eggs and boil them in a saucer. Once boiled remove the shell of the eggs and make incision on the body of the eggs and rub with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. Now chop a medium sized onion, green chillies make a paste of ginger and garlic, tomatoes and chop coriander leaves and keep aside.

Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the boiled eggs in the oil and once fried keep them aside. Temper the hot oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Now put in the onions, green chillies, ginger garlic paste and fry well. Now add in the chopped cauliflower and potatoes and allow frying on low heat for a while. This will allow even cooking of the vegetables and as the potatoes take little time while cooking so this mode of cooking is helpful. Keep adding little water while frying as this will not allow the vegetables to stick to the Kadhai as we specially use very less oil in the food preparations in the village cooking of Assam. Later add in the chopped tomatoes to the Kadhai and add salt and turmeric powder and cook until the potatoes are soft. Now pour adequate water in the Kadhai and bring the curry to a boil. Now add in the fried eggs and allow the curry to boil until you are left with thick gravy. Top with coriander leaves and your Fulkobi aru Koni Jul (Egg curry with Cauliflower) is ready to be served. This is a very flavourful recipe and all depends on the freshness of the vegetables. If the vegetables of cauliflower and potatoes are fresh then the gravy will be delightful and you would want to eat more of this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine.

Another popular recipe of eggs in the urban cooking of Assam is the egg omelette curry and is often prepared in the urban households of Assam. A very simple recipe to prepare take about 3 eggs and break them into a bowl and mix with chopped onions and green chillies and add little salt and turmeric powder and mix well. Now take a Tawa and heat it up and pour mustard oil on the Tawa and move it a circular fashion so that the oil spreads evenly on the Tawa. Now lower the gas flame and pour the egg batter over the Tawa and use a spoon to spread it evenly on the Tawa. Once the egg omelette is cooked on both sides evenly wrap it up to form a rectangular shape and your omelette is ready. Turn off the gas and chop the omelette into smaller rectangular pieces and keep aside. Now make a paste of onions, paste of tomatoes, paste of ginger and garlic and chop green chillies and coriander leaves. Now take a Kadhai and heat mustard oil in the Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies, whole jeera seeds, whole garam masala (cloves, cinnamon, cardamom) and later add the onion paste and fry well. Now add in the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies. Add in the salt and turmeric powder and later add in the tomato paste and keep frying until you the oil is separated from the curry.

Now pour water in the Kadhai and bring to a boil and put in the pieces of the omelette in the curry. The omelette pieces will swell up once it soaks in the water so make sure you mix the curry properly and allow the pieces to soak in the curry. After some time, top it with coriander leaves and your egg omelette curry is ready to be served. This transform well into an egg curry as well. To prepare the egg curry recipe instead of the egg omelette curry recipe you will need to boil about 3 eggs and two medium sized potatoes in a pressure cooker. Once done remove the egg shells and peel out the skin of the potatoes. Now make incision on the body of the eggs and add salt and turmeric powder and fry them in hot mustard oil and keep aside. Follow the same procedure of making the omelette curry and at the end once you add water and bring the curry to a boil add in the fried eggs and the potatoes and continue boiling till the gravy becomes thick and top with coriander leaves and your Koni Aalu Dom (egg potato curry) is ready to be served. You can also add fresh peas while cooking this egg curry and top with ghee to make the egg curry more delicious.

Another comfort food of the village cuisine prepared with eggs is the Koni Aalu Pitika which is a very simple recipe of mashed potatoes and boiled eggs and goes well with either your lunch or dinner. We have already prepared the mashed potatoes (Aalu Pitika) earlier and this time we will add the hard boiled eggs to prepare this Koni Aalu Pitika. To prepare this village cuisne of Assam take two country chicken eggs and two medium sized potatoes and put them in a pressure cooker and boil them in for about 3 whistles. You can also boil them in a saucer over fire and ensure to boil them until the potatoes have become soft. Now peel the potatoes and remove the shell of the hard boiled eggs. Put them in a large bowl and chop onions, green chillies and coriander leaves. Put everything in the bowl containing the potatoes and eggs and add salt and little mustard oil. Mash everything together with your hands and your Koni Aalu Pitika (mashed eggs and potatoes) is ready to be served with rice. Another urban egg recipe is the one cooked in a Chinese style that includes the usage of tomato sauce, chilli sauce and soya sauce and this is prepared only in the urban homes and not in the village cooking recipes of Assam.

To prepare this egg in sauce recipe boil about 3 eggs and remove the shells. Slice the eggs in thin pieces (around 8 pieces from one egg) and keep aside. Now chop onions into big chunks and peel out each of the slices so that they are one slice each. Now take refined vegetable oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot add in the onion slices and fry for some time. Put in chopped garlic pieces and green chillies and fry doe some time. Now add tomato sauce, little soya sauce and little chilli sauce and add in the eggs and put some salt as well. Mix them wee and your egg in sauce recipe is ready to be served with noodles or rice. Another popular egg cuisine in the village cooking of Assam is with Mati Dali (Black Dal) similar to the Mati Dali aru Gahori Mankho recipe. You will need to soak about a cup of Mati Dali in water and allow it to rest for about 3 hours. Chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now boil the dal on a pressure cooker for about 5-6 whistles. Keep is aside and make scrambled eggs on a Tawa and keep aside. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper it with bay leaf and dried red chillies. Now add in the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry well. Now add in the tomato and add salt and turmeric powder. Pour in the Mati Dali from the cooker and bring to a boil and so not add more water because this should be thick gravy. Add in the scrambled egg pieces and top with coriander leaves and your Koni aru Mati Dali is ready. You can replace the scrambled eggs with boiled eggs and fry these eggs and add when the Mati Dali is boiling.

You can always prepare egg curry with the Kumura vegetable (white gourd) and this is another dry recipe and the egg is in the scrambled form. To prepare the Kumura aru Koni (scrambled eggs with white gourd) take about half of the white gourd and chop it into small pieces. Ensure to peel out the skin of the White gourd in the recipe because it doesn’t go well with the egg recipe of the village cuisine of Assam. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of garlic and ginger. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with dried red chilli and put in the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and now add in the chopped Kumura pieces  in the Kadhai and allow to fry in low heat for a while. Add salt and turmeric powder and keep frying until the Kumura pieces are soft. Now add in two eggs and ensure that the Kumura pieces are spread across the Kadhai and the eggs are broken at the centre so that the eggs are fried at first and later the egg can be fried at first and later on mixed with the Kumura pieces. Top with coriander leaves and your Koni aru Kumura bhaja (scrambled eggs with white gourd) is ready to be served. Another village recipe cooking that goes well is the Koni aru Bhendi Jul (Eggs cooked with ladies finger/okra curry).

To prepare this delicious village cooking recipe take about a bunch of the ladies fingers/okra and slit the edges and the chop the vegetable into two. Also chop a potato into thin slices and keep them aside. Now chop onions, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Boil 3 eggs in a pressure cooker and allow 2 whistles for the eggs to boil properly. Once done remove the egg shells and make slits on the egg and rub salt and turmeric powder. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot put the eggs in the Kadhai and fry them evenly on all sides and keep aside. Now temper the hot oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and also add whole cumin seed and fry for a while. Now add in the chopped onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry well. Now put in the ladies finger and the potato and lower the gas flame and allow frying. Once you see the Bhendi releasing a sap like thing then add salt and turmeric powder and later add water in the Kadhai and bring it to a boil and add in the fried eggs. Your egg curry with ladies finger is ready and top it with coriander leaves and serve with white rice.

Another favourite of the urban cooking of Assam is the Koni aru Kaju (Egg curry with Cashew gravy). This is a typical urban cooking recipe of Assam and it is often cooked with broiler eggs. To prepare this Koni aru Kaju recipe you will need about 3 eggs and boil them in a pressure cooker for about 2 whistles. Once done remove from the cooker and remove the shells and chop the eggs into two halves and add little salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. In the meantime, prepare a paste of onions, a paste of tomato, ginger garlic paste and chop green chillies. This is an urban recipe and so do make use of a blender while preparing the paste. Soak a few pods of the cashew nuts in water and later make them into a paste as well and keep aside. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the eggs in the oil. Ensure to turn the eggs slowly so the yolk doesn’t come out and deep fry the eggs so that they turn crunchy. Now remove the eggs from the Kadhai and keep aside. Temper the hot oil with bay leaf, dried red chillies and whole garam masala (Cloves, cardamom and cinnamon) and fry for some time. Add in the onion paste, the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry well. Now add salt and turmeric powder and later add in the tomato paste and fry well.

Keep adding little water while frying so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the Kadhai. Once fried properly add in the water (not too much) and bring to a boil. Now add in the cashew paste and allow boiling and later lowering the gas and adding in the fried egg pieces. Do not turn the eggs and keep them on one side to soak in the flavours of the curry. Once the gravy is thick top with coriander leaves and your Koni aru Kaju (egg curry with cashew gravy) is ready to be served. The next egg recipe is the Dim Kasha that is a Bengali cuisine recipe and is also consumed in the urban households of Assam as well. This is an easy preparation but mind you this uses the powdered spices and it is not typically the village cuisine of Assam. To prepare this Dim Kasha start by boiling 3 eggs in a pressure cooker. Once cooked remove the shell from the eggs and rub salt and turmeric powder on the eggs and keep aside. Make a paste of onions, paste of tomatoes, ginger and garlic paste and keep aside. Heat a Tawa and once the Tawa is hot put in whole garam masala (Cloves, cinnamon and cardamom) on the Tawa and dry roast the spices. Now remove the spices and put them in hand pounder and pound them to a dry powder and keep aside.

Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the eggs in the oil and do it evenly on all sides. Once the eggs are fried keep them aside and temper the hot oil with bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch phuron. Now add in the onion paste and the ginger garlic paste and add in the green chillies and also add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and dhania powder. Keep frying and later add the tomato paste and fry until you see the oil separating from the mixture and later add in water in the Kadhai and bring it to a boil and heat till the water evaporates and you are left with thick gravy. Now add in the fried eggs in the Kadhai and mix well with the gravy. Once it is mixed them put the ground garam masala mixture on the curry and your Dim Kasha is ready to be served with rice. Now we will prepare a few chutney recipes in the village cooking style of Assam. These chutney recipes are good accompaniments that go well with the meal and so the people in the villages of Assam prefer to eat these chutney recipes along with the meal. As mentioned earlier, the village cooking recipes of Assam do not have various accompaniments unlike the urban foods of Assam where people have various accompaniments with the food they eat and so a spicy chutney recipe is what goes very well with the meals.

One favourite recipe is prepared with Masor Dal and it is called as the Dali chutney. To prepare this Dali chutney you will need to soak Masor Dal in water for about 2 hours and this will allow the dal to get soft. Once the dal is soft clean it properly under running water and mix some salt as this will allow to remove any traces of fertilizers that might have been used to keep the dal preserved. Now take the dal in a blender and put green chillies, coriander leaves and salt. Peel a few garlic pods and heat mustard oil in a Kadhai. Once the oil is hot fry the garlic pods in the oil and allow it to cool down. Later put the fried garlic in the blender and blend all these together and your dal chutney is ready to be served with your meal. Generally in the villages, the folks do not use to prepare this mix in a blender and instead they use a big stone called as the ‘Bota’ to prepare this mix. Another chutney recipe is prepared with tomatoes and garlic and lots of green chillies and it is called as the Bilahi aru Nohoru chutney. To prepare this chutney recipe we will use a large tomato and garlic pods and ensure to pound the garlic and keep them aside. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the chopped tomatoes in the Kadhai and fry until the tomatoes are mushy and now add in the garlic and also add some salt to prepare this chutney.

Once everything is blended together the Bilahi aru Nohoru recipe is ready to be served. Another simple chutney to prepare is that of Mint (Pudina) and tomato and this is a spicy chutney that goes well with a meal of the village cuisine. Take a bunch of pudina leaves and pluck the leaves and keep them aside soaked in a bowl of water. Now take about a few green chillies and keep them soaked in water as well. Take a few leaves of the Naga Dhania and put it soaked in the water in the same bowl. Now peel a few garlic cloves and fry them in hot mustard oil and keep aside. Take a blender and put in the tomatoes, mint leaves, the garlic, Naga dhania and add salt and blend everything together and your mint and tomato chutney is ready to be served. This is a very spicy chutney and hence you need to ensure just to take a little of it in the late along with your meal.

Now we shall understand the preparations of certain chicken recipes in the village cuisine of Assam. As mentioned earlier, the village folks rear their own livestock but with the modern life adaptations generally establishing across the villages as well, people have also started to consume broiler chicken in the village homes as well as it turns out to be cheap and they do not have to slaughter one complete chicken and they could go to the chicken shop and buy about 250 gm. of this chicken for abut INR 50 and prepare it with lots of vegetables so that the flavour of the meat is enough to feed the family and not necessarily the meat pieces. And if they have to slaughter one complete county chicken it would mean that they would need to consume it whole as they do not have refrigerator at their homes to preserve the meat and also it would mean fewer eggs for the family as the chicken is killed. So the village cuisne of Assam also makes use of the broiler chicken and we will see both the country chicken and the broiler chicken recipes separately. The first recipe we are going to cook with the broiler chicken is the Kumura aru Murgi Mankho Jul (Chicken curry cooked with White gourd). A very flavourful recipe this village cooking recipe combines the flavours of the Kumura (White Gourd) with the chicken loaded with aroma of fresh ginger garlic, chillies, coriander leaves and the whole spices of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

To prepare this recipe take about 500 gm. of broiler chicken with the skin and chop them into smaller pieces. Remember these recipes are just for the flavour of the meat and not just the meat pieces and so we will use less of quantity of chicken. Once you have the meat from the shop take the meat in a Kadhai and clean properly and boil it for about 10 minutes with little salt and turmeric powder. This is done to make the meat soft and also get rid of the bacteria in the broiler meat. Now keep the meat covered and chop the Kumura (White gourd) into smaller pieces after you out peel pout the skin of the vegetable. Chop onions, three medium sized potatoes in quarter pieces, green chillies, tomato, make a paste of ginger and garlic and chop the coriander leaves as well. Now heat a Tawa and dry roast whole garam masala spices of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and once heated up put them into hand pounder and pound them into a fine powder form. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper the oil with bay leaf, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Now put in the onions and ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry well for some time. Now add in the chicken pieces and add salt and turmeric powder and fry for some time and later add in the Kumura pieces in the Kadhai and mix well with the meat.

Now keep frying the curry in low flame and allow the Kumura vegetable to melt and put in the chopped tomato pieces. Once the tomato pieces turn mushy and blend together with the meat add hot water to make gravy and allow it to come to a boil and once the gravy is thick put in the powdered whole garam masala that we had prepared. Taste for salt and if the salt is right then put in the chopped coriander leaves in the meat curry and your Kumura aru Kukura Mankho (Chicken curry with White gourd) is ready to be served with rice. Another meat recipe that is prepared in the villages and often replicated in the urban traditional restaurants of Assam is the Chicken Khorika. Khorika is the form of the Assamese Barbecue where the meat chunks are put on bamboo skewers and roasted slowly over the wood fire. In the villages this is generally prepared with the local pork meat and with the introduction of the broiler chicken that has a softer flesh as compared to the county chicken, the chicken Khorika is becoming a favoured food as well. To prepare this chicken Khorika at first big pieces of chicken meat are taken and cleaned properly. Later the meat pieces are rubbed with salt and turmeric powder and put up on skewers and a wood fire is lit at the centre and the Khorika pieces are around the slowly burning wood fire so that the heat slowly permeates the body of the meat.

Once the other preparations are almost done and its time to prepare for the festivities then the village folks chop onions, green chillies, coriander and mix them together and keep aside. Now the bamboo skewers with the chicken on them are taken and put over the slowly burning wood fire directly. The meat has already been cooked with the slow cooking near the wood fire and this allows the meat to get charred and gives the meat a distinct flavour. The same way the pork Khorika is prepared as well. Now once the chicken pieces have cooked on all sides the meat chunks are taken out from the bamboo skewer and a sharp knife is used to chop the meat into smaller pieces. A dash of lime is sprinkled over the meat followed by salt and later the mix of onions, green chillies and coriander is put on the meat and everything is mixed together. Your chicken Khorika is ready to be served with rice wine. This goes well with pork, prawns and fish as well and all of these recipes are called as the Khorika recipes of the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

The next village cooking recipe of Assam is the Ulkobi aru Kukura Mankho (Chicken curry cooked with turnip) and this is a very delicious preparation cooked over wood fire that is loaded with the fibre of the turnip vegetables, the potatoes and the protein of the chicken meat. To prepare this recipe of chicken curry with turnip (Ulkobi aru Kukura Mankho) take about 500 gm of the broiler chicken meat and clean it properly and wash with a little salt and turmeric powder to remove the traces of bacteria from the meat. This step is necessary in the village cooking of Assam as the turmeric powder has various health benefits including that of boosting immunity in a person and the haldi root from which this turmeric powder is derived has been since ancient times used to cure body ailments in humans. So use this to clean any meat to remove the harmful bacteria. Once the meat is cleaned keep it aside and now start with other preparations of chopping onions, tomatoes, make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now we need to properly remove the skin of the turnip vegetable and chop the edges as well. Chop the turnip into four pieces as this is a small vegetable so once you chop it into four pieces the pieces get small. Also take two medium sized potatoes and chop them into smaller pieces.

Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai over the wood fire and once the oil is hot temper with bay leaves and dried red chillies. This chicken curry with turnip is best prepared over wood fire in a slow cooking process as this will allow even cooking of the chicken and the smoky flavour of the wood fire will permeate the meat and bring in a delightful flavour as well. Now add in the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste and add the boiled chicken in the Kadhai and keep frying in a low wood fire flame. The chicken pieces might get stuck to the Kadhai as the oil quantity used is quite less and we add little water while frying the chicken. Now add in the turnip and the potatoes and add salt, jeera powder and turmeric powder and continue frying until the turnip has completely dissolved with the chicken and later add tomato and mix well and after a while add water and bring it to a boil. This process will allow the gravy to become thick and the flavours of the chicken and turnip will blend well together. Check for salt in the chicken curry with turnip recipe and if the salt is less add salt and top with the freshly chopped coriander leaves and your Ulkobi aru Kukura Mankho is ready to be served with rice in this wonderful village cooking recipe of Assam.

Now for a country chicken recipe that is known to be a delicacy in the village cuisine of Assam. As we have prepared certain village cooking recipes with the broiler chicken, this was to guide you to learn about the cuisine since the authentic country chicken meat is often rare to be found in the urban areas and so the broiler chicken meat is mostly available. But all the previous chicken recipes we had cooked could be prepared with a country chicken and the only thing is that it is more time consuming because the country chicken takes little longer to cook because the body is fibrous. But with a little extra frying especially over the wood fire, the meat of the county chicken becomes soft and I must admit it is one of the most flavourful and nutritious meat once can have. One simple way (yet delicious) recipe to cook the country chicken is the Jaluk dia local Kukura Jul (Country chicken curry cooked with ground whole black pepper). To prepare this we will need a small country chicken because this will have a tender meat and clean it properly and make medium sized pieces of the chicken and keep the leg pieces in the desired size as this is a very tasty part of the chicken meat and is often offered to the children in a family or the guests who visit the home.

Rub salt and turmeric powder and little mustard oil to the chicken and keep it aside as this will allow the meat to soak in the flavours of the mix and become a bit tender as well. The technique to preparing the county chicken is to make thick gravy and this can be achieved by preparing a paste of onions instead of simply chopping up the onions. So take about 2 large sized onions and make a paste in a blender. Generally in the village cooking they will use the flat stone crusher called as the ‘Bota’. Keep the onion paste aside and now prepare a paste of ginger and garlic using the same technique. Another key ingredient that is used to prepare this country chicken curry is the whole garam masala paste that is again done by using the ‘Bota’ and making a fine paste of the whole garam masala with the addition of a little water. Also pound whole pepper corns into a powder from and keep aside. Chop green chillies, tomatoes and coriander leaves and keep aside. Take a Kadhai and put it over the wood fire and pour mustard oil into the Kadhai. Once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds.

Now add in the onion paste and keep frying in low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown. Now add in the chicken pieces that we mixed with salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil and fry this properly so that the smell of the raw mustard oil goes away. You might have noticed that we have not added the ginger garlic paste yet and we will keep this to be added later as this will bring about the true flavours of the garlic in this chicken curry recipe. Now fry the meat and add the green chillies and top with some salt and turmeric powder as per the meat quantity. Keep frying for a while and add chopped potatoes with the skin on that have been cleaned in water. In any of the village cooking recipes of Assam, the potatoes that are added in the curry are organically grown and so the skin of the potatoes is not peeled. Now allow frying the potatoes and chicken for some more time and put in the tomato and after some time top with water and allow bringing to a boil. Once the chicken curry is boiled add in the ginger garlic paste we prepared and keep boiling for some time. Once you see the gravy has turned thick then add in the ground pepper powder and the ground whole garam masala. Continue to boil for some more time and later add the chopped coriander leaves and your Jaluk dia local Kukura Jul (country chicken curry cooked with black pepper) is ready to be served with rice.

Once you taste this chicken curry you can feel the aroma of the black pepper, garlic, chillies and the garam masala along with the meat and the burst of flavours make you want more of this recipe for sure. This is a very nutritious village cooking curry as well as you derive the nutrition of the country chicken, the garlic, ginger, green chillies, coriander, pepper corns and the whole garam masala as well. Now coming back to another urban cooking recipe of Assam that is a favourite snack recipe for children and even adults in the evening or with a drinking session is the chicken pakoras that goes very well with the mint chutney we had prepared earlier. Pakoras are a famous snack in India and the monsoon season is not complete without the evening snacks of either dal pakora, paneer pakora or the chicken pakora. Often I have seen in the small roadside shops in the cities selling this recipe and people pick it up for their drinks as this is a cheap way to enjoy a delicious snack. We will prepare a home recipe of this chicken pakora.

To prepare this chicken pakora recipe you will need about 500 gm of broiler chicken cut into medium sized pieces. Once you have the meat at your kitchen boil it at first with salt and turmeric powder to remove the bacteria and also to tenderize the meat as we will coat the meat with a besan batter and fry it so it is necessary to make the meat trader by boiling it. Once the chicken is boiled discard the water and keep the chicken pieces aside. Now we will prepare the batter that is used to coat the chicken and later fry it in refined oil for the chicken pakora. To prepare this batter take a large bowl and we will take a cup of besan (gram flour) and half a cup of rice flour. The rice flour is used in the pakora recipes to make the pakora crunchy because just with besan the crispiness doesn’t come about. Take this in the bowl and to this we will add a paste that we will prepare by blending onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic and put this paste in the bowl. Add an egg to hold the batter together with the chicken and also add salt and garam masala powder. Herbs are an important ingredient in the pakora recipes and this brings about the desired nutrition factor to these pakoras. So for the chicken pakora recipe we will add chopped curry leaves, coriander leaves and pudina.

We will not add turmeric powder to this batter as we have already boiled the chicken with salt and turmeric and so additional turmeric is not desired. Now put in the chicken pieces in the bowl and mix everything together so that the chicken pieces are coated evenly with this batter. Now heat refined vegetable oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot lower the gas flame to medium and add in the coated chicken pieces one by one in the Kadhai till you see them occupying the space covered by the oil in the Kadhai. Evenly fry the pieces and turn it as well as this will ensure even frying of the chicken pakora. Once you see the pakoras turning golden brown it means that the chicken pakora is done and remove them from the Kadhai and place on a paper napkin to absorb the excess oil. Serve the chicken pakora with mint chutneys or you can also serve it with tomato ketchup or mayonnaise and all the serving with taste equally delicious with the chicken pakora. Similarly various other pakora recipes can also be used to cook in the urban cooking style of Assamese cuisine. Coming back to another village cuisine of Assam cuisine recipe that is cooked with a vegetable is the country chicken cooked with Lau (Gourd) that si another very delicious recipe.

To prepare this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine we will need one nice tender Gourd (Lau) and peel the skin of the vegetable and chop the Lau (Gourd) in small pieces. Also slaughter a country chicken and chop it into medium sized and chop it into medium sized pieces and chop it properly and mix it with salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil to tenderize the meat. You might wonder as to why we are not boiling the country chicken with salt and turmeric powder and this is because the country chicken feeds on natural food in the environment and not raised by feeding on antibiotics laden chicken feed and so bacteria doesn’t survive in the body of the county chicken. Now chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander leaves and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai over wood fire and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Now add in the chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste and fry it for a while. Add in the chicken pieces and allow frying for a while in low heat. Now add the Lau (Gourd) pieces and keep frying and add in the salt and turmeric powder and mix well. Once the Lau is soft add in the tomato pieces and fry until the tomato pieces are soft and mushy. Later add water and bring to a boil and once the gravy is thick add the ground garam masala paste and your Local Kukura aru Lau is ready to be served with rice.

Next we prepare another village cooking recipe of the Kukura Mankho Sungat dia Bah Gajor logot (Chicken cooked with Bamboo shoot in a bamboo). As we have learnt earlier that bamboo is a versatile grass that is used in the building various architectures in the villages from houses, fences to even makeshift bridges, the bamboo shoot is also edible and rich in nutrients. We have already prepared a pork curry with the bamboo shoot in the village cooking recipe of Assam and today we will prepare a country chicken recipe with the bamboo shoot in a bamboo pole over a bamboo fire that would tell us how great the bamboo grass is as it provides the source of food, the fire for cooking and even the utensil where the food will be cooked. To prepare this village cooking chicken recipe we will use a small country chicken that has a tender meat or else the meat will not get tender in the bamboo tube cooking style. Chop an onion, few green chillies, tomato, take the bamboo shot and coriander leaves, ginger and garlic paste and mix everything together with the chicken and also add mustard oil, salt and turmeric powder and put everything together in the  bamboo tube and use a bamboo stick to stuff everything inside the bamboo tube. Now light a fire using dried bamboo sticks and once the fire is up place the bamboo tube over the fire in a horizontal stature and allow the meat to cook inside the bamboo tube.

Keep stirring the meat with a bamboo stick and see to it that the meat inside the bamboo pole is not getting dry and keep adding water to the cooking process. This will take a little while to cook and once done you will need to take a piece out of the bamboo tube and check for the tenderness of the meat. If the meat is tender and the salt is adequate and all the vegetables have blended properly with the meat it means that the chicken recipe in this village cooking is ready and you will need to hold the bamboo tube with a cloth and invert the contents into a bowl. As we have not used any other masala apart from the salt and turmeric powder this curry along with the bamboo shoot will look a little whitish in colour but the flavours that come out of this cooking in indeed awesome. The bamboo shoot adds a distinct flavour to the meat curry and once you serve this meat with rice you will surely want more of this village cooking recipe of the Kukura Mankho Sungat dia Bah Gajor logot (Chicken cooked with Bamboo shoot in a bamboo). This is one of my very favourite village cooking recipes and the soulful flavour of the bamboo shoot and coriander is what makes this dish so desirable.

Another important county chicken recipe that is cooked by Rupam from Majuli is the boiled chicken recipe with herbs and ground black pepper. This is also prepared by the Singpho people of Assam but I do not know their recipe and instead I will write about the Mishing way of preparing this recipe. We will make use of various herbs like curry leaves, mint leaves, mani muni, mati kanduri, Naga Dhania, etc. to prepare this boiled country chicken recipe in the village cooking cuisine of Assam. Select a decent sized country chicken to prepare for slaughter and once he humanely slaughters the chicken the parts of the chicken are segregated and what to cook is now separated. The chicken liver, gizzard, heart, chicken feet, chicken wings are kept separately and these would be roasted over fire to be had with the rice wine and the other meat parts would be cooked and it is chopped up. In the village cooking of Assam, the skin of the chicken is not discarded and instead the chicken is held over fore and the hair on the skin is allowed to be burnt. No part of the chicken is thrown away and even the head is cleaned properly along with the meat and it is cooked. Once the chicken is cleaned and chopped it is allowed to be mixed with salt and turmeric powder and kept aside. Now a big Kadhai is taken and water is added to the Kadhai and it is brought to a boil.

Now the various herbs that are to be used in the recipe is chopped up and placed in the water and as the flavour needs to be retained in the gravy so the Kadhai is covered with a lid and kept. Once the herbs are seen to be dissolving in the water and the gravy is turning green with the colour of the herbs, the tomatoes are added along with the chicken. Allow the chicken to boil properly and soak in the flavours of the soup. This becomes a very light gravy and so to make this gravy thick we will add little rice flour and this will bring about a nice flavour of the rice flour as well. Allow to boil and the chicken meat to cook. Once you see the chicken fibre has become soft taste a piece of the chicken and if the chicken is tender and salt is right it means the boiled chicken recipe is ready to be served with rice. Now for the other parts of the chicken we had kept aside before the preparation of the curry they are cooked alongside this recipe as well and are mostly the Khorika recipe where the pieces of the meat are put up on a bamboo skewer and kept alongside the fire that we used to prepare the curry. These meat pieces roast slowly with the heat of the fire and later they are served with rice wine and the meat pieces are mixed with chopped onions, coriander and green chillies.

The chicken liver and gizzard is an important snacks recipe in the cuisine of Assam and often during parties one can find the hosts serving this recipe along with the drinks. The broiler chicken farms often sell these parts of the chicken as they are generally not ordered in bulk by the meat distributing companies who supply the desired meat cuts to retail shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. and so to make some decent profit out of the chicken these broiler farms sell these chicken liver, gizzard and chicken feet to small traders who bring them and sell in the local markets to make as small profit as well. These chicken gizzard and liver cost about INR 100 per half kilo and so they are often brought and fried with onions and other ingredient and are served during the evening parties at homes. To prepare the chicken liver and gizzard it is a very simple recipe and at first you will need to clean the gizzard and liver properly with water, salt and turmeric powder. The liver of the broiler chicken processes most of the feed that is provided to these chicken and these feed are loaded with antibiotics to produce a fat and plummy chicken in just about a month which generally takes around 6 months in the country chicken. And as these birds are caged in crammed up places so they need to fed with a lot of antibiotic so that they do not contract any diseases from the filth around the place and the liver take the entire toll of processing this feed.

So you need to clean it properly with turmeric so that the bacteria are eliminated and the raw smell of the meat goes away as well. Once cleaned, you can start with the preparations of the gizzard and liver. These are big sized organs and so to accommodate it in the feeding need you have to chop them into smaller pieces so that they can be picked up with toothpicks. Once you chop them into pieces keep them aside and chop the onions into thin slices, green chillies, coriander and tomatoes. Also make a paste of whole jeera as this aroma of the cumin will be good to mask the meaty odour of the liver and gizzard. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and allow the oil to heat up. Once it is hot and you can see smoke coming from the Kadhai lower the gas flame to medium and add in the bay leaves and the dried red chillies. Now put the finely chopped onions and the ginger garlic paste and the green chillies and fry well. Later add in the pieces of chicken liver and gizzard and cover the lid of the Kadhai and allow frying in low flame. Keep adding little water as the pieces might get stuck to the bottom of the Kadhai.

Now add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are mushy and the gizzard has cooked well. Check for salt by tasting a piece of the gizzard and later add in the jeera paste we had prepared and mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and your chicken gizzard and liver dry fry is ready to be served with tomato ketchup. This is called as the Murgi Anguthu aru Kolija Bhaja in the Assamese cuisine. Now since we are at it another very flavourful side dish that goes well with drinks is the chicken fry recipe and in the Assamese cuisine it is prepared differently as compared to the other cuisine in India because as mentioned earlier we will not make us of the powdered spices in the Assamese cuisne and instead we will use the fresh natural ingredients to prepare this chicken fry recipe. For this recipe of the chicken fry of the Assamese cuisine we will need about 500 gm of chicken meat finely chopped into medium sized pieces. Clean the meat thoroughly with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside to dry and mix with some salt, mustard oil, jeer powder and turmeric powder. Generally in certain chicken fry recipes a lot of colour is added to look tempting and the one we will cook will appear a dark brown colour and even though it might not be very delightful to look but will be delicious for sure. Make onion paste, fresh ginger garlic paste, green chilli paste, tomato paste and take half of a lime as well. And mix everything together with the chicken. This recipe needs the chicken to fry along with all the ingredients and to make this more Assamese we will add potatoes to the dish as well. Now heat mustard oil in the Kadhai and temper it with bay leaf, dried red chilli and whole cumin seeds. Once the oil is hot add in the chicken mix along with the potatoes and allow to fry in medium heat and keep adding little water so the chicken pieces do not get stuck to the Kadhai. Once the potatoes are soft it means the chicken is done as well. Top with the lime and the coriander leaves and serve as a snacks with wine.

Another very flavourful and nutrition loaded chicken recipe in the village cooking of Assam is the Kukura Mankho aru Norohingho Jul (Chicken curry cooked with curry leaves). Again this is a special recipe cooked by Rupam from Majuli Island at his home and he uses the country chicken to prepare this recipe over wood fire. The curry leaves or the Norohingho Pat in Assamese is a very versatile plant and its leaves are known to do wonderful benefits to the human body and some of these benefits are aiding weight loss, good for stomach health, good for eyesight, good for hair health, remove bacteria, heals wounds, reduces stress, etc. and no wonder this is a magical leaf in the South Indian cuisine where any of their meals of either breakfast, lunch and dinner is incomplete without the consumption of a dish cooked with curry leaves. Though in the Assamese cuisine we do not have too much of use of the curry leaves in our vegetarian recipes but often the meat and fish recipes are cooked in a curry prepared with these curry (Norohingho) leaves. The curry leaves bring in a distinctive flavour to the meat recipes of the Assamese cuisine and it complied with another leaf called as the Jari Pat is that brings in more flavour to the meat recipes especially the pork meat.

To begin preparations for this meat recipe pluck a bunch of fresh curry leaves from the tree at the village and clean it properly and later make a paste of the curry leaves. You can use a blender to prepare this paste but at Rupam’s house they do it the traditional way of making it on the ‘Bota’. Once the curry leaves paste is ready keep it aside in a bowl. Now time to prepare the chicken and you need to select a good sized rooster to prepare this recipe because the rooster meat goes well with the curry leaves and though it might take little more time to cook yet the final result will be delicious. You will need to add a mashed potato to this curry so that the gravy becomes thick and hence you can either boil the potatoes at first or else if you are cooking over the wood fire in the traditional village cooking recipe of Assam then the potato will break down in the curry once you mash it with a spatula as this curry will be on the fire for a while. Chop the chicken into medium sized pieces and rub well with salt and turmeric powder and little mustard oil and keep and keep the liver, gizzard and feet pieces aside and put them up on bamboo skewers to prepare the Khorika recipe of the village cuisine of Assam. Chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes, coriander leaves and make a paste of ginger and garlic.

Heat a big Kadhai over the wood fire and pour mustard oil in the Kadhai. Once the oil is hot, temper with bay leaves, dried red chillies and the whole cumin seeds. Now put in the onions and the ginger garlic paste and fry properly. Now add in the chopped chicken pieces marinated with salt and turmeric powder and also add in the chopped potatoes to the curry. Keep frying in medium heat until the smell of the raw mustard oil goes away. Once the chicken meat in the Kadhai starts releasing water then adds in the chopped tomato pieces and fry until the tomato gets soft and blends with the meat. Now add in the paste of the curry leaves we had prepared and allow frying for some time and later top with water and bringing to a boil. Once the chicken curry starts boiling break the potatoes in the curry by using a spatula used for mixing and this will make the gravy to turn thick. Once you see the gravy is thick check for the tenderness of the chicken by tasting it and also check for salt in the curry. If the salt is right then add in the coriander leaves and your chicken curry with curry leaves (Kukura Mankho aru Norohingho Jul) is ready to be served. The other meat parts put on the bamboo skewers will also be ready by now and put them on a plate and serve with chopped onions, green chillies and coriander leaves.

Now for another delicious recipe of the village cooking of Assamese cuisine is the Til Dia Kukura Mankho (Chicken cooked with sesame seeds). We have already prepared the pork and fish recipes with the sesame seed and now we will prepare this chicken recipe with sesame seeds that is not a curry but mostly a dry recipe with very less of gravy. The sesame seeds are very good for digestion and the ones found in the Assamese cuisine is black in colour and is called as the ‘Til’ and this imparts a unique colour to the chicken gravy as well. To prepare this Til aru Kukura Mankho recipe we will use a broiler chicken but follow the techniques used on the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine. Take about a kilo of the broiler chicken and clean it properly with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside. We will follow a simple village cooking recipe wherein we will chop the vegetables and other ingredients and mix everything together with the chicken and fry it up altogether and later add in the sesame seed paste. To prepare the sesame seed pate take about a small bowl of sesame seeds and use a traditional grinder of the ‘Bota’ and make a paste and keep is aside. Ensure not to use too much of the sesame seeds or else the curry would get bitter and about a small bowl would be enough for the amount of chicken.

Take a Kadhai and heat mustard oil and in the meantime chop the onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, potatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic and green chillies and put everything in a large bowl and add in the chicken meat to the bowl and mix everything together. Now once the mustard oil in the Kadhai is hot, temper with bay leaf, red chillies and whole cumin seeds and once done put the mix of the chicken in the Kadhai and lower the wood fire heat and allow frying for some time. Add in salt and turmeric powder and go on frying. Once you see the chicken is releasing the water add in the sesame seeds paste and allow frying on low heat and keep adding little water to facilitate the frying process. Now add in the sesame seed paste and mix well with the chicken and pour little water and once the curry is ready you can top with the coriander leaves and this completes the cooking of the Kukura Mankho aru Til viz. Chicken cooked with Sesame seeds. Another cuisine that I had once and couldn’t resist eating again in the Dhania chicken that was cooked at my friend’s place in Guwahati and the main ingredient used was the coriander leaves and again a bit of curry leaves as well.

Start by cleaning the chicken with turmeric powder and salt and keep aside. Now we will follow a similar recipe to the chicken curry with sesame seeds and we will chop all the ingredients and put in a blender and later put the chicken in the bowl with the ingredients, mix well and later fry in the Kadhai. Take two onions, green chillies, tomatoes, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and coriander leaves and put them in a blender and mix well to obtain a fine paste. Now take the chicken in a bowl and mix all the ingredients together and allow to rest for a while. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Once it is fried up lower the heat and add in the chicken mix altogether in the Kadhai and fry for some time. Cover with a lid and allow slow frying of the meat and the ingredients. Once you see the chicken pieces releasing the water then add in the potatoes and keep frying until the potatoes are soft. Add little chicken masala powder to the curry and after some more frying your Dhania chicken is ready to be served with rice.

Across the urban cities you must have tried many of the tandoori chicken, grilled chicken, roast mutton recipes and in this post we will write about the preparations of these types of recipes in the village cooking recipes of Assam. In certain traditional festivals of the village tribal communities of Assam and even North East Indian feasting and celebrations are an integral part of the festivities. As we understand the majority of the population of the North Eastern States are dependant of agriculture for their livelihood and so traditional festivals revolve around the harvest of the season and after months of toiling in the fields and preparing their food stock ready in the traditional Godowns called as the ‘Bhorals’, the village folks get together to celebrate this festival that continue to about a week or even ten days. And during these festivals they consume rice beer, vegetables and the meat of certain animals like Mithun in certain parts of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. In the village cuisine of Assam, the meat consumed are that of pork, chicken and goat and certain tribes perform the practice of whole roasting the meat of an animal and I had witnessed one such festival in Majuli and I will write about the whole roasting process of the meat here.

One way of preparing the whole pig is a very elaborate process and it includes a lot of work and preparations from selecting a decent sized pig to be slaughtered so that the entire village can savour the meat and as mentioned earlier no part of the meat goes wasted in these festivals and so the people have to take utmost care in cleaning the pig meat. The entire intestines are cleaned out and kept aside and the pig body is thoroughly cleaned with water and the hair removed by cleaning with razors and as the pig would be roasted so the remaining hair would burn away in the roasting process. The pig intestines are cleaned properly along with the organs like liver, heart, etc. and these all would be prepared in a delicious curry with curry leaves and various other herbs like we had prepared a pork intestine recipe earlier. Once the pig is cleaned and ready the village cooking process starts and to mention again the flavouring will be done with various natural herbs and spices and no artificial colour or flavours will be sued to prepare the marination of the whole roast pig. Various herbs like curry leaves, Jaari pat, Mani muni, mati Kanduri are taken and all of it are crushed in large pounder that is generally used to pound rice grains and these are mixed with lots of green chillies, garlic, ginger, etc.

The mix is pounded into a fine paste and once done the aromatic flavours of these herbs in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine is simple amazing. The cleaned pig is allowed to rest on the ground that is placed with banana leaves and at first mustard oil is rubbed over the pig body and this will prevent the meat from getting charred as it will be roasted over the wood fire. Once the oil is rubbed evenly on the body of the pig both outside and inside the next step is to smear the herb paste on the body of the pig and this has to be done evenly so that the flavours of the herbs infuse into the pork meat once it is done roasting over the fire. After the marination process is complete the meat is allowed to rest for a while for it to absorb the flavours of the herbs. Now the wood fire has to be started and the stand to hang the pig has to be built as well and to roast the pig a special kind of wood that has been collected in the dry season and allowed to dry in the sun was kept ready because this wood when it burns releases a wonderful aroma and this smoky flavour enhances the flavour of the meat as well.

The stand where the pig would be allowed to rest are two branches of a tree that would be put up across each side of the fire and the measurement of the stick that would be used to hang the pig is taken and the size is to be right so that the wood can be rotates and allow even roasting of the pork. The tree branches are selected in such a manner that at the top in the intersection from where the sub branches grow and this coupling will be the place to hold the stick on which the pig would be put. The pig is taken and the long strong cane like stick is used to tie the pig on to it and the twigs are used to tie the pig to the cane stick. We can see that everything including the ingredients and accessories used in the preparations of this roast pork meat recipe used is organic and derived from nature itself and ensured that no damages have been caused to nature as well. The villagers of Assam and North East India haves since long learnt to live in harmony with nature and all their activities are revolved around the nature. Before converting to other religions most of the tribal folks of North East India practices the religion of Dony Polo wherein they worshipped the Sun, Moon, Rivers and the gifts of nature around them and so they respect nature to be their God as they believe it to be the sole creator and provider.

Now the pig is put on the two branches and the fire is started and this begins the slow cooking process of the whole roast pork and in the meantime while it is roasting the villagers get to other work like cleaning of the pig intestines and preparing other accompaniments for the feast in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine. While some members stay back at the area where the pork is roasting as they are needed to see to it that the pig is rotated at regular intervals so that the meat is cooked evenly and the skin doesn’t get charred with the heat. The session of rice beer continues and the other villagers are busy at making other preparations for the feast like cooking rice, some cleaning the pork intestines and organs, some of them roasting the fish and some preparing a vegetable recipe. The pork has to be roasted evenly for about three hours for the meat to get tender and when the skin turns golden brown and black the pig is removed from the fire and placed on the same place where the banana leaves were kept on the ground. Than the meat is chopped up with sharp knife tools and at first it is cut into large chunks and separated from the whole pig body and later it is chopped into smaller pieces and offered to the villagers.

These practices in the village cooking of Assamese cuisine is strictly followed wherein the meat is at first offered to elderly folks and later the other members get to taste it and this replicates their age old traditions and customs. The pork turns out to be simply delicious and tender as all the flavours of the fresh herbs and the ginger, garlic and chillies. The slow roasting ensures that the meat turns out to be very soft and tender and the pork fat melts and mixes in the meat. The entire flavours of the various herbs and the special wood for smoke aroma fills the pork meat and it is indeed one of the very special preparations of the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine. The next whole meat roast recipe is that the goat and in this village cooking recipe however the goat meat is not cooked as the whole and instead it is chopped into lesser chunks and later roasted over the fire in pieces because the goat meat is very fibrous and the whole cooking would take a long time and hence it is better to chop it into medium sized pieces and then roast over the fire. The goat meat roast recipe would use the favours of the whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, dried red chillies and all these ingredient need to be ground and taken in a big rice pounder and the ingredients are pounded to make a dry masala.

Next the magic of the curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies come to play and then these are separately pounded and a paste is made. The whole goat is cleaned thoroughly and the pieces are chopped out ot be used to roasted over the wood fire. The goat legs are taken along with the belly part of the bones and these will be used for the preparations of the goat roast while the intestines, liver, heart, feet, head and kept aside to prepare other recipes. This is done on a separate day than the pork meat because these preparations take a while and only one meat can be offered to he had in a day. Although the festival continues for about a week only three days are when meat is consumed by the folks in the village cooking recipes of Assam. The meat is taken in banana leaves laid out on the ground and a knife is used to make incisions on the meat so that the spices go well inside the meat and this will allow even cooking of the meat as well. At first the paste of the ginger garlic and other ingredients are rubbed on the body of the goat and later the dry spice powder is smeared as this will allow it to stick to the body of the goat meat.

Now the mutton pieces are put up on bamboo skewers and the special wood that was used to prepare the whole roast pork is used here as well. In order to catch the flavours of the fumes they light the fire at the centre and a small pit is dug out and the shape of the pit is such that the bottom of the pit is made narrow and the top of the pit is wide and this way the wood sticks to be burnt and kept inverted are allowed to burn at the bottom portion of the pit and this way the wood burns slowly and the fire comes out slowly from the pit and the bamboo skewers with the mutton pieces are placed around the pit and this allows to evenly roast the mutton. To not allow the flavours from escaping, the pit across is covered with banana leaves as well and this this imparts a unique flavour to the meat as well. The meat is allowed to slow roast and in case the meat is seen to be burning then the people add little ghee to the meat pieces and this imparts a flavour and also doesn’t allow the meat to burn. The cooking process takes about two hours and once the meat is done they are removed from the pit area and spread out on banana leaves and a sharp knife is used to chop the meat pieces from the bones.

The goat meat doesn’t get as tender as the pork meat but the flavours of the goat meat are really wonderful and it is by far one of the tastiest meats. The flavours of the whole garam masala, coriander and cumin seeds fill the meat along with the aroma of the curry leaves. The meat chunks are shred into smaller pieces by using a sharp knife and the bone marrow is removed by breaking the bones with a hammer and the entire village feast on this goat meat roast. The liver, heart, testicles of the goat is also put on skewers allowed to slow roast and it is simple served by sprinkling salt and lime over the meat pieces. Certain parts of the goat meat are also added to rice to prepare a kind of a village cooking biryani in the Assamese cuisne. In the biryanis across India we can see it to be loaded with various flavours from the whole garam masala, spice powders, ghee, saffron, etc. but in the village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine it is a simple recipe and can be just called as the mutton and rice. They follow a simple recipe of preparing the mutton as goat meat in the form of a curry and later they add rice and allow cooking it with various herbs like mint and currying leaves.

To prepare this village cooking mutton and rice recipe that is similar to the mutton biryani we will use the meat of the goat that was left earlier from the whole goat and the parts would be from the shoulder area, the neck area and the behind of the goat and the meat is chopped into medium sized pieces and the adding of the papaya will allow to tenderize the goat meat. Now chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Chop mint leaves, coriander leaves and the curry leaves as well. Now take a wide and deep bottomed vessel (Dekchi) and put it over the wood fire. Take local rice and clean it in water and soak it for about the time the mutton pieces are being cooked in the curry. Pour mustard oil in the vessel and once hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole garam masala like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and let the contents from for some time. Now add in the onions and the ginger garlic paste in the vessel and fry until the onions are golden brown. Add in the mutton and fry for some time. Add in salt, turmeric powder and crushed whole jeera and coriander seeds in the vessel and mix the contents properly. Allow to cook until you see the mutton pieces releasing water and it is time to add the tomatoes to the curry.

The tomatoes have to be added towards the end as it slows down the tenderizing process of the meat and so always add tomatoes to a meat recipe when the meat is almost cooked and then you can savour the flavours of the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have mixed well with the curry add in the fresh chopped herbs of coriander, curry leaves, mint and the green chillies and later add in the rice and mix well with the curry and top with required water to allow the rice to cook and cover the lid of the vessel and allow the rice and meat to cook together. Once done remove the lid and feel the aroma of this mixture of the meat and rice and mix well again and you village cooking recipe of the simple mutton biryani is ready to be served with the goat intestines that have been cooked separately. Often an accompaniment of a special vegetable curry is done in the village cooking recipe during the festive occasions. As one had to feed a lot of people in such occasions they follow a recipe of mixed vegetables and they collect the various vegetables growing in the farms and they chop them up and fry in into curry like gravy. This way they are able to take in the nutrition of the vegetables, the taste and even save on the time by not having to prepare dishes separately.

This kind of vegetable cooking is even done in the marriages and other occasions celebrated in the villages and this village cooking recipe turns out to be a very delicious one in the Assamese cuisine. For this recipe the village folks collect various vegetables like pumpkin, gourd, brinjal, Kosu, potatoes, ladies finger, carrots and put everything in water and cleaned thoroughly. The skin of these vegetables won’t be peeled and hence the vegetables need to be cleaned properly to remove the mud as some of these vegetables are grown under the ground. Once cleaned the vegetables are chopped and kept aside and later onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic paste, green chillies are chopped up and a large Kadhai is put over the wood fire and mustard oil is added to the Kadhai and once the oil is hot it is tempered with bay leaves and dried red chillies. The onions and the ginger garlic paste are added and later the vegetable are added to the Kadhai and mixed well. After frying for some time the salt and turmeric powder is added and the vegetables are mixed thoroughly. Once you see the vegetables are soft then the tomatoes are added and once the tomatoes blend with the curry then water is added and the vegetable curry is allowed to boil until the vegetables become mushy.

This prepares your mixed vegetable curry that is ready to be served with the other meat accompaniments and rice. Often fish is used in the preparations during these festivals and a simple fish curry recipe is prepared with tomatoes and potatoes. The numerous water bodied in the area around these villages have various fish species and also the river provides an excellent source of fish as well. The fish caught from the rivers are huge in size often weighing up to 7 kilograms and more and about two dishes are enough to feed the village. This recipe is often prepared with the Borali fish and at first the fish is chopped into thin slices and washed properly and rubbed with salt and turmeric powder. Now onions are chopped along with potatoes and tomatoes, coriander leaves and generous quantity of ginger and garlic is crushed. On a huge Kadhai mustard oil is heated up and once it is hot the fish pieces are fried and kept aside. The fish intestines are used to prepare the Masor Petu Bhaja that we had prepared earlier. Now in the hot oil add the bay leaves and dried red chillies along with whole cumin seeds. The onions are fried along with the ginger garlic paste and later salt and turmeric powder is added. Now the potatoes are added in the curry and fried for some time and later water is poured in the Kadhai. Add in the tomatoes and later the fish pieces and top with coriander leaves.

There is another village recipe o0f the mutton stew that is cooked with certain herbs in the village cooking recipe of Assam. Generally the hard parts of the body of the goat like the legs and neck meat are used for the preparations of this stew along with the head of the mutton and this yields are very delightful soup that is often savoured by the elderly and the children as this provides a healthy nourishment to the bones of the body. The mutton along with the herbs of mati kanduri, mani muni, marsang, etc. a lot of ground whole pepper is added to this mutton stew or Sagoli Mankho Haror Jul that is generally served in a glass to the elderly and the children and the savour this nutritious soup before their meal while the others go about with their rice beer and rice wine. At first as the body parts are mostly to be ground into the soup so they are broken down into medium sized pieces and chopped up kept aside. The herbs are collected along with mint and coriander leaves as well as these two would be added towards the end of the boiling process to bring a delightful aroma to the soup. The powerful aroma and health benefits of garlic are very properly utilized in this soup and lots of garlic pods are peeled and pounded and kept aside.

The ginger pods would also be needed to bring in the natural remedies to this soup and this along with green chillies are crushed and kept aside. A little frying of the onions would be required along with the tomatoes and so generous amounts of the onions and tomatoes are chopped up based on the quantity of meat. This would boil for quite some time to allow the flavours of the bones of the goat meat and legs to boil perfectly and so the addition of raw papaya to tenderize the meat is not necessary in this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine. Once the ingredients are ready take a big vessel with a good depth and put it over the wood fire. Allow the vessel to heat up and add in mustard oil not too much just enough to fry the onions and tomatoes as the meat will mostly be boiled continuously. Once the oil is hot temper with bay leaves and dried red chillies and add in the onions and fry for some time followed by the ginger and chilli paste, the pounded garlic and later add in the meat pieces to the vessel. Mix well and add salt and turmeric powder. If you note across most of the recipes we have prepared in the village cooking recipes of Assamese cuisine there has been no mention of the use of the other powdered spices expect for the turmeric powder.

And the turmeric powder used is also not the ones available commercially in packets. The village folks grow their own turmeric in the fields and they take it to the local rice mills to pound this turmeric into a powder form and this is called as the local Haldi. You can differentiate the naturally powdered turmeric from the commercial ones because these have a dark texture than the ones available commercially and the aroma of the turmeric is very strong as well for the local haldi. This turmeric is a very powerful medicinal root and has been used as a treatment for body ailments in the traditional Indian medicines since a long time. Turmeric has various compounds and especially the curcumin that is a powerful bioactive compound that has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric enhances the anti-oxidant capacity of the body and it is good for heart and brain as well. Thus we see that the turmeric is a very powerful natural medicine and hence its addition to food along with the ground pepper enhances the capacity of the body to deal with various ailments and especially boost the body immunity. After this we fry the mutton for a while and later add in the tomato followed by the various herbs that we collected earlier. This mixture is allowed to fry in the vessel for a while and a little water is added so that the contents do not stick to the bottom of the vessel. Once you see the herbs mix well with the meat now it is time to add the water in the vessel and ensure that the vessel is almost filled with water because the stew will be needed to be boiled for adequate time foe the meat to release its flavours completely in the stew and go on boiling for some time with a lid covered.

Once you see the contents of water evaporate a little add in the mint and the coriander leaves and the ground pepper as well and mix the contents well. Keep boiling for another 15 minutes and check for salt. If the salt is right it means that the mutton stew prepared in the village style cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine is ready to be served. This broth or stew turns out to be a very nutritious one and tasty as well. The flavours of the herbs, mint, coriander and pepper bring in an exotic aroma of flavours and the mutton meat and bones add to the nutrition level of the mutton stew as well. The village cooking recipe of the mutton stew (Sagoli Mankho Haror Jul) is fresh served in glass and bowls to the village elderly and the children. Another important thing to be mentio0ned is the serving of the meal. In festive occasions like this where the entire village gathers to celebrate the harvest, the food stuff is served on banana leaves and the various accompaniments along with a meal.

Generally one leaf is served to a person and he has to eat in that leaf for the day long festivity. For Liquid and drinks bamboo mugs are made and provided to the folks and they have to keep this bamboo mugs across the celebrations. Generally in the villages of Assam, food is served on utensils made with bell metal and the villagers have an entire assortment of such utensils from plates, saucers, bowls, glass, etc. Food is served in such bell metal plates and it is believed that eating on these plates is good for your stomach as certain compounds in these bell metal utensils are beneficial for the stomach. In these festivities, the elderly are served in these bell metal utensils and the other people are served on bamboo leaves and the bamboo mugs. The bamboo leaves are easily disposed by digging a pit and putting the leaves in them and the remaining food disposal is not a problem and most of the families’ rear pigs and this act as a perfect fodder for them. There are certain recipes in the village cooking of Assam that are prepared during the festivities and are prepared on a large scale as well. There are few chicken recipes as well that I will write about after I describe two other urban recipes of mutton.

One important urban cuisine of Assam is the mutton pulao recipe that is prepared in a pressure cooker to save time. This is a very simple preparation and once you have the ingredients ready it doesn’t take much time to prepare. To prepare this recipe we will first prepare a mutton curry recipe in the pressure cooker and later on add rice and pressure cook it to prepare the mutton pulao. The mutton has to be selected from the butcher and you need to take about 500 gms of the goat meat from the hind leg side of the goat as this contains the meat as well as the bones and is perfect for the recipe and to feed a family of four. Generally is Assam we use the Joha rice to prepare Pulao recipe s this recipe has a very nice aroma to it and it has a slight sticky texture to it as well and this is good for the pulao because the grains stick to each other and the mutton pieces blend well with this rice. Soak the rice is water for about 30 minutes and keep aside. Marinate the goat meat with curd, salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder and keep aside in the refrigerator for about 2 hours and this will allow the meat to tenderize. We will not use papaya to tenderize the meat because the curd will do it and the curd and papaya do not go well together.

Chop onions, tomatoes, mint leaves and coriander leaves and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat a pressure cooked over the gas and pour in mustard oil in the pressure cooker and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole garam masala and fry for some time. Now add in the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste and fry well. Add in the marinated mutton in the pressure cooker and allow to cook for a while with the pressure cooker covered. Mix at regular intervals and once you see the mutton releasing the water add in some more salt, turmeric powder and the powdered spices like jeera powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and keep frying. Add in the tomato after a while and fry until the tomatoes mix well with the meat. Now add in the mutton meat masala powder and fry well again and add potatoes and the Joha rice in the pressure cooker and fry this for some time. Later add in the mint leaves and the coriander leaves and add adequate water and pressure cook for about 2-3 whistles. Let the cooker release the air on its own and now open the pressure cooker to the delightful aroma of the mutton pulao. Add little ghee on top and mix well and serve with raita. To prepare the raita we will take about 3 tablespoons of curd in a bowl and chop cucumber, tomatoes, onions and coriander leaves into small sized pieces. Add this to the curd in the bowl and pour water and mix well and also add salt, red chilli powder and jeera powder and mix well and keep it refrigerated. This raita goes well with the pulao and biryani recipes and it soothes your stomach as well because with the spices added, the curd facilitates the cooking process in the stomach.

If you do not like the idea of mixing the rice and mutton together to eat the mutton pulao then you can prepare the white rice separately and the mutton curry separately as well. White rice or steamed rice is an emotion in the Assamese cuisine and the local people of Assam can’t stay a day without eating rice. Certain people of Assam including myself we eat rice for our 3 meals viz. breakfast, lunch and dinner. As per my schedule I wake up at 5 AM and have my breakfast at 7 AM that would consist of white rice, dal, mixed vegetable fry, a mashed potato, green chillies and chilli pickle. My lunch will around 12.30 and it again would have rice, dal, a fish or meat curry with some vegetables, a fried vegetable sabji, green chillies,  a bit of the Bhut Jolokia and to end my meal I squeeze half of a lemon in my dal and drink it. For dinner again while I generally have around 9 PM it again would have rice, dal, an egg or fish recipe with vegetables, a mashed potato and vegetable chutney, green chillies, Bhut Jolokia and the squeezed lime and dal. So it can be seen that though I eat rice three times a day I ensure to take it in less quantity and do not stuff my stomach with it because I am not a farmer who goes to toil in the field every day and needs a lot of carbohydrate from the rice to fuel my energy needs and so I need to eat a meal that I can burn.

I am not a well-built athlete but I perform some regular exercises in the day and so the food I eat has not allowed me to become fat. Moreover the rice we eat is prepared in two ways. The first way is to clean the rice in water and steam it in a pressure cooker for about 2-3 whistles. This is a quick way of preparing the rice but the problem is the starch content of the rice remains back and this is a real cause of concern as this allows your body to accumulate the fat and this is what makes the urban people of Assam fat and later this leads to development of certain ailments in the body starting with high blood sugar, hypertension and later some other complications as well. So the best way to cook white rice is by ‘Maar Karhi’ viz. boiling the rice in water in an open vessel and discarding the water that is left after the rice boils and becomes soft as this is how we eliminate the starch content of rice. This way of cooking rice is the traditional way and so if you want to stay thin and fit and at the same time do not want to give away the pleasure of eating white rice then the best way to prepare the rice is this way. This also helps because to treat the rice so that it is not infested with insects and more often certain pesticides are added while packaging it and this boiling process helps to eliminate these pesticides as well.

So as I was saying that the people of Assam and North East India love to eat while boiled rice so you can prepare the mutton curry recipe separately in a pressure cooked in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. To prepare this we will follow a similar process of marinating the mutton with curd, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and allow marinating for about 2 hours in the refrigerator. Now we will make a paste of onions, tomatoes and ginger garlic all separate. Chop green chillies and coriander leaves and keep aside. Heat a Tawa and once hot add in whole garam masala spices of cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and allow to dry roast. Once it is done put in a hand pounder and make a powder mix of whole garam masala. Now heat mustard oil in a pressure cooked and once hot add in bay leaves, dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds and later add in the onion paste and the ginger garlic paste and fry well for some time. Now add in the marinated mutton pieces in the pressure cooker and allow frying in medium flame for some time. Once you see the mutton releasing the water add in more salt and the powdered spices as per taste and fry for little more time.

Now add in the tomato paste and green chillies and keep frying until the tomatoes mix well with the mutton. Now add in the chopped potatoes and add adequate water and pressure cook for about 5 whistles and allow the pressure cooker to release air on its own. Now open the lid and bring it to a boil again and add in the whole garam masala powder and the coriander leaves. Your mutton curry recipe cooked in a pressure cooker in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine is ready to be served. This mutton curry goes well with white rice or even the veg pulao recipe and it should be served hot. This mutton curry recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisne is also done well in an earthen pot and is called as the Handi Mutton curry. Handi refers to the earthen pot in Hindi. Since times immemorial the artisans of Assam have been known to be adept in pottery and they used to make various earthen wares from medium sized pots to big sizes. They also make Dias that is used to offer worship to the Gods filled with mustard oil and a cotton wick that allows the oil to burn. Use of mud is also prevalent in the design and building of statues of Gods of Goddesses that we used in the festivals across Assam and India as well.

But the basic usage of pottery was mostly used to prepare pots that were sued in the storage of water and food as well. If you travel across the villages of Assam you can still see the village folks storing and drinking water in these earthen pots because this facilitates in storage and also in the warm season this allows the water to keep cool. Some of these earthen pots are made with a stronger base and these can be sued for cooking and it is to be ensured that the heat is not too much or else cracks will develop in the pots. Special clay mix that has been extracted from the soil deep underground near the river banks and later being mixed with cow dung. The heat of the sun dries these pots and they are used for cooking. One village cooking recipe in the pot is that of the Handi mutton curry and it follows a simple recipe of using right ingredients to prepare this Handi mutton curry. A tender goat’s meat is used to prepare this Handi mutton curry and the meat is cleaned and rubbed with salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil and allowed to roast. This recipe is prepared with potatoes and the Kumura vegetable and these vegetables are cleaned and chopped after peeling out the skin. Also chop onions, tomato, coriander leaves, green chillies and making a paste of ginger and garlic.

Now gently put the ‘Tekeli’ – the earthen pot over the wood fire and ensure the fire burns in minimal and pour mustard oil in the ‘Tekeli’ and allow it to heat up. Once the oil is hot add in bay leaves and dried red chillies and mix well and later add in the chopped onions and the green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. The flavours in this meat curry will be brought about by the garlic, green chillies and the vegetables and no use of powdered spices as it is typical in the village cuisine of Assam. Now add in the mutton pieces that have been mixed with salt and turmeric powder and allow frying in low heat and covering the pot. Keep checking for the mutton not to stick to the bottom of the pot and so it would mean you will need to keep adding little hot water until the mutton starts releasing water from the meat. Now add in the chopped vegetables of Kumura and potatoes and fry for some time and later add in the tomatoes. For this recipe we will use the Kon Bilahi or the small tomatoes that is a popular tomato species to be found in the villages of Assam and have a distinct flavour to it. Ensure to remove the seeds from the tomatoes or else the curry with turn sour. Now add water to the pot and raise the heat and keep boiling the curry.

Once you see the potatoes are soft it means the curry is done and you can add in the chopped coriander leaves and the Handi mutton curry is ready to be served with rice. The same way you can prepare a Handi Mutton biryani as well in the urban cuisine of Assam. To prepare the mutton biryani in the Handi style the utmost thing is to cover the Handi and you will need to seal it properly once you add in the rice in the pot and this will allow the flavours to be sealed inside the pot. Generally these earthen pots come with an earthen lid and to seal it temporarily you can use dough of Atta and seal it around the mouth. Once the sealing equipment is ready you will need to prepare the mutton and curd will be used to tenderize the meat. Mix the mutton pieces with curd, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, jeera powder, ginger garlic paste and coriander powder and allow to marinate for a while. Now chop onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies. Heat mustard oil in the pot and once hot temper with bay leaves, whole garam masala, dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds and fry for some time. Add in the onions, ginger garlic paste, green chillies and later add in the mutton pieces and keep frying on low heat for a while. Add in the tomatoes and later add water and allow to boil for a while.

Now add in the mint and coriander leaves and also add in the basmati rice in the pot and add little ghee and add water and seal the pot. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes on a low flame and this will allow the flavours of the meat and rice to blend will together. Now remove the sealed lid and the wonderful aroma of this mutton biryani recipe cooked in a pot and locally called as the Handi mutton biryani will be a delight to taste. Serve this biryani with a raita or even in certain parts of the country it is served with a brinjal salan and this is also an easy recipe to prepare. Chop up a brinjal into thin slices and mix with salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Now chop a potato into thin slices as well. Chop onions and tomato and green chillies and chop a few garlic pods as well. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and temper with bay leaf and dried red chillies. Add in the onions, garlic pods and the green chillies and fry well and later add in the tomato and the brinjal and potatoes. Mix well and keep frying for some time and add in water to the Kadhai. Now mash up the ingredients and keep frying and once everything turns into a paste the brinjal salan is ready to be served with the biryani cooked in the urban style of the Assamese cuisine.

Another of the few urban mutton recipes of the Assamese cuisine that are savoured in households are the mutton cutlet and the mutton keema fry. The mutton cutlet is the perfect evening snack for parties and even with dinner and the mutton keema fry as well. For both these recipes we will need the minced mutton meat that is found in select butcher shops across the state. To prepare this minced mutton or mutton keema generally the boneless meat pieces of the goat meat are taken and they are chopped continuously with a sharp chopping knife (used by butchers) so that resultant is a smooth mutton paste like ingredient. This is the traditional way of making the mutton keema but with the advent of machinery this is now achieved by means of a machine in which the goat meat is put and the machine pounds and chops the meat to make the keema in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. Otherwise certain blenders also have the ability to mince the meat as well and so you can buy the goat meat and make the Keema at home itself. At first we will prepare the mutton keema cutlet (or it is also called as the keema balls in certain parts of the country) and is a very delicious snack recipe. Take the minced goat meat in a big bowl and add in little bit of whole chana dal, besan (Chickpea flour), chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, curry leaves, coriander leaves, green chillies, chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, jeera powder and coriander powder.

Mix these ingredients well in a bowl and allow to rest for some time. After this we have to take the meat and make small round balls of the meat and keep aside on a large plate. You can keep the balls round or you can also flatten them by making into a round and then pressing the ball to make a flat cutlet like shape. Now heat refined vegetable oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot add in the mutton keema balls in the Kadhai and allow to fry evenly until they turn golden brown. Serve these mutton keema balls (mutton keema cutlet) hot with pudina chutney or ketchup. You can also make a curry out of these mutton keema balls and this is called as the keema ball curry. Once the mutton keema balls are fried up keep them aside and make a paste of onions, ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, chop green chillies, coriander leaves and make a pounded powder of the whole garam masala. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and now once the oil is hot add in the bay leaves and dried red chillies.

Now add in the onion paste and the ginger garlic paste and fry for some time. Add in salt and turmeric powder and keep frying and later add in the tomato paste. Add in thin slices of potato as well as this goes well with the mutton keema balls. Now add water and bring to a boil. Once the potatoes are soft add in the mutton keema ball pieces in the curry and allow to cook in medium flame for a while. Add in the garam masala powder followed by the coriander leaves and your mutton keema ball curry is ready to be served with roti or white rice. Another recipe that we can prepare with the mutton keema is the keema fry with matar (minced goat meat fried with green peas). This is a seasonal dish as the green peas are available in the market in the months between the winter and monsoon season mostly March-April in Assam and so this recipe goes well during that time as the weather is favourable as well. The goat meat is a red meat and hence it brings in a lot of heat to the body and hence it is not recommended to eat goat meat in the summer of Assam when the existing temperatures and humidity are already high and your body needs to digest food that can help lower the body temperature rather than increase it. So during the months of March and April the climate is favourable as it is neither too cold nor too hot and so the urban cooking of Assamese cuisine uses the goat meat in many recipes during this time.

To prepare this mutton keema and green peas fry recipe take about 300 gms of the minced goat meat (mutton keema) and clean it and mix well with salt and turmeric powder. Take a bunch of peas and remove the pods from the skin and keep aside. Chop onions, tomatoes, make a paste of ginger and garlic, chop green chillies and coriander leaves, Heat the Tawa and dry roast the whole garam masala and pound it in a hand pounder. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and one the oil is hot, temper it with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Now add in the chopped onions, the green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry well and later add in the minced mutton and mix well as this will allow the salt and turmeric to spread evenly across the other ingredients. The minced mutton has to be made into individual pieces and so keep stirring the meat in the Kadhai and add in the tomatoes. Now add little jeera powder and coriander powder and fry for some time. Add in the green peas and after frying for some time add in water and allow to boil as this will allow the mutton to get tender. Once you see the water has almost reduced in level add in the roast garam masala powder and later add in the chopped coriander leaves and your mutton keema matar recipe is ready to be served with roti or white rice.

The mutton liver is a very tasty part of the goat meat as well and when prepared in a dry recipe it is a perfect accompaniment for the evening parties at home. To prepare the mutton liver dry fry recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine we will use about 300 gms of mutton liver and chop into smaller pieces and boil them is water with some salt and turmeric powder and this will allow the mutton liver to become soft so that too much frying is not necessary to prepare it. Now make a paste of onions, ginger and garlic, tomatoes and also pound the whole garam masala in a hand pounder after dry roasting it over a Tawa. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves and dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds. Now add in the onion paste and the ginger garlic paste. Chop potatoes into small cube sixed pieces and add it in the Kadhai followed by the mutton liver pieces. Now add in salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder and fry for some time and later add in the tomato paste. Keep frying by adding little water and once the potatoes are soft add in the whole garam masala powder and the coriander leaves and allow the water to evaporate completely and the mutton liver fry is ready to be served with toothpicks for the evening snacks.

Another popular Bengali cuisine recipe of the mutton that is also prepared in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine is the mutton kasha or mutton fried with lots of spices. The whole spices are taken of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, badi elaichi, star anise and all of these are at first dry roasted on a Tawa and later pounded into a powder form. The mutton is marinated with curd, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder. The whole seeds of cumin and coriander and take and dry roasted and pounded into a powder form and kept aside. Onion paste, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, tomato paste is made and kept separated. Also chop coriander leaves for garnishing at the end. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper with bay leaves and dried red chillies. Now add in the onion paste, ginger garlic paste and green chilli paste and fry well. Add in the mutton pieces that were marinated and allow to fry for some time. Keep adding little water while frying as this will allow the mutton to turn tender. Add in the tomato paste and continue to fry over medium heat. Add in the powdered jeera and coriander powder and followed by the whole garam masala powder and keep frying. Once you see the mutton pieces are soft it is time to check for salt and if the salt is right then add in the coriander leaves and you mutton kasha is ready to be served with rice.

Now we will look into some of the chicken recipes that are prepared in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine and one simple recipe is the chicken curry cooked in pressure cooker that is prepared with broiler chicken and papaya. As mentioned earlier, the papaya is used to tenderize the meat and once you use it with the broiler chicken meat it becomes completely soft and this is delicious watery chicken gravy and most of the ingredients are mixed together and fried and later allowed to pressure cook for about 3 whistles. Chop onions, tomatoes, make ginger garlic paste, chop green chillies and coriander leaves and also a slice of raw papaya. Take about 500 gms of chicken meat and clean properly with turmeric and keep aside. Now take a pressure cooker and heat mustard oil and temper with bay leaf and dried red chillies and mix all the vegetables and chicken together and put in the cooker and fry along with potatoes. Add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and fry on medium flame. Once fired add water and pressure cook for about 3 whistles. Allow the cooker to release the air on its own and later served in a bowl and top with coriander leaves and your chicken curry with papaya and potatoes (Kukura Mankho aru Omita aru Aalu) is ready to be served with rice.

Now we will prepare the chicken masala recipe that is another popular recipe in the urban cooking of Assamese cuisine. To prepare this recipe of the chicken masala we will need about 500 gms of broiler chicken and this has to be cleaned well with water and later we will add little salt and turmeric powder and keep it aside. Now we will chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander leaves and make a paste of ginger and garlic and keep aside. Heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot turn the flame to medium and at first fry the chicken pieces in the oil and fry them until they turn golden brown and keep them aside. Chop 2 potatoes into four halves each and this will be added to the chicken later. Now temper the oil with bay leaf, dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds. Add in the onions and fry well and later add in the ginger garlic paste and keep frying. Now add in the tomatoes along with the potatoes and add salt, turmeric powder and jeera powder. Now add in the fried chicken pieces and lower the flame and once fried for some time add in the coriander powder and the garam masala powder. Add water and keep frying until the potatoes are soft as the chicken pieces are already soft as we fried them.

Finally add the chicken masala powder and top with coriander leaves once the gravy has become thick and this is the chicken masala recipe of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. Another very famous snack recipe of India is that of the chicken kebabs and even in the Assamese cuisine this recipe of the chicken kebabs has become popular and is often served at the evening parties. To prepare the chicken kebab we will need about 500 gms of boneless chicken chopped into small pieces. To prepare the coating we will need Maida, corn flour, little rice flour, two eggs, and little milk and put all of these in a big bowl. Now add salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, ginger garlic paste, little edible red colour and mix all of these together by adding little water. Ensure that the water is not too much or else the batter will be too watery and that is not desired. Now put in the chicken pieces in this batter and mix well and squeeze little lime on the mixture and allow to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour. Allow to rest in the open for 15 minutes and then heat a Kadhai and add in vegetable oil in decent amount to deep fry the chicken kebabs.

Once the oil is hot add in the chicken pieces with the marinade and deep fry the chicken pieces and remove them from the Kadhai and put them on a paper napkin to allow to absorb the excess oil. Your chicken kebabs are ready to be served hot with the pudina chutney. Some of the other favourite chicken recipes of the Mughal cuisine of India are tandoori kebabs and these are basically chicken marinated with spices and roasted in the tandoori oven that is powered by charcoal and to prepare these recipes at home you will need a barbecue stand. Even if you do not have a barbecue stand/apparatus you can use an iron box to light the fire and make place to hold the chicken skewers to allow it to roast over the fire. The first one is the chicken tandoori recipe and this you can prepare by taking a whole dressed chicken and chopping it into four pieces with the two halves of the leg side and two halves of the breast side of the chicken. To prepare the Tandoori chicken we will use the marinate as we made in the chicken kebab recipe and the only thing we will do is we will not add the eggs and the rice flour as these two ingredients do not go well this chicken recipe and instead we will add little curd with the other ingredients. Now clean the chicken properly and put the masala marinade all across the chicken pieces and use an iron skewer and pierce it across the meat from one end to the other.

Take the barbecue stand and light the charcoal and ensure that it is not burning with full fire and it should be just enough to roast the meat pieces evenly. Now put up the skewer with the chicken meat on it over the charcoal fire and allow slow roasting of the chicken. While the chicken is roasting make cuts on the body with a sharp knife and this will allow the heat to permeate inside the chicken body and make the meat tender. Once you see the chicken pieces turning charred it means the meat is done and you can serve the tandoori chicken with pudina chutney. The same way you can cook tandoori kebabs and you will need to chop the chicken pieces into medium sized pieces and pierce the meat on the skewers after marinating it with the masala and this will prepare the chicken tandoori kebabs. The mutton seekh kebab is also a popular evening snacks and this is prepared by using the mutton keema and the ingredients like chana dal powder, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, the masala powders and everything is mixed up in a bowl and take a big ball of the mutton keema and wrap it around the iron skewer and roast over the fire and this will prepare the very delicious mutton seekh kebab recipe.

Like this you can change the flavours of the batter and prepare numerous tandoori chicken recipes. One important ingredient of the veg cuisine of India and also gradually catching up with the urban cuisine of Assam are the various paneer recipes and since we discussed about the tandoori recipes you can also prepare a paneer tandoori recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine as well. This is a different preparation from the chicken recipe as too many spices are not needed for the paneer (cottage cheese) and instead you can simply add in salt, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste , jeera powder and coriander powder on the paneer and also other vegetables like onions and tomato and put up on skewers as well. You put one slice of the paneer followed by one slice of onion and tomato and this way the vegetables too would be very good to taste with the paneer. Once the paneer and vegetable pieces are roasted remove them on a plate and sprinkle lime and chat masala on it and serve hot with the pudina chutney. Another popular paneer item is the matar paneer that is a simple recipe and is savoured across the vegetarian food of the Assamese cuisine. To prepare this matar paneer recipe we will use fresh paneer (cottage cheese) chopped into small square sized pieces.

Also use a bowl of green peas and remove the pods from the skin and keep aside. The paneer will need to be fried at first and simply add vegetable oil in the Kadhai and fry the paneer until they turn golden brown and keep aside. Now make a paste of onions, tomatoes and keep aside. We do not use garlic for this paneer recipe and so we simply ground ginger and green chillies. Now in the left over oil heat it again and once hot temper with bay leaf and dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds and later add in the onion paste. Now add ginger and green chilli paste followed by the tomato paste and keep frying on medium flame. Add in the salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder and add in the green peas and fry well for some time. Now add in the paneer pieces and allow cooking until the gravy has become thick. Top with little ghee and coriander leaves and your matar paneer recipe is ready to be served. Different versions of paneer are also made in the Assamese cuisine followed with the Chinese twist like paneer chilli and paneer Manchurian as well. I will write about it later once I discuss the influence of the Chinese cuisine on the Assamese urban cooking recipes but one paneer recipe that is also quite popular is the paneer bhurji or the scrambled paneer.

To prepare the paneer bhurji recipe we will take about 250 gms of paneer and mash them into a bowl and keep aside. Chop onions, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic and also chop green chillies and coriander leaves. Now heat vegetable oil in a Kadhai and once hot add in the onions and fry well. Later add in the ginger garlic paste followed by the tomatoes. When all these blend together well add in salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, jeera powder and dhania powder and mix well. Now add in the mashed paneer in the Kadhai and mix well with the ingredients. Fry well and later top it with coriander leaves and your paneer bhurji is ready to be served. Generally in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine the people eat rotis for breakfast and this paneer bhurji recipe is the perfect accompaniment with rotis. Roti or the Indian bread is made with wheat and the Atta is mixed with warm water and salt and dough is prepared out of it. Later the dough is made into small pieces and put on a flat surface and little Atta is added and a belan us used to make it into a round shape. A Tawa is heated and the flat round dough is now heated and the roti is prepared. To make the roti fluffy it is put directly over the fire once it cooks little on each side and to make it more flavourful a little bit of ghee is added on top and served.

Now we will look into the Chinese influence the Assamese cuisine but at first let me write about the food that is a hit among the youth of the urban population of Assam and this is none other than the Tibetan delight of the momos (dumplings). A Dough filled with various sorts of fillings of meat these momos are loved by the school and college students and even the young working professionals and many outlets across Guwahati in Assam have earned the repute of being the best places when it comes to Momos. An outlet called as the Momo Ghar that started humbly in the late 90’s at the college hub near Ambari in Guwahati is now known to serve some delightful chicken and pork momos and if you are in Guwahati then a visit to the Momo Ghar at Ambari is a must to try these delicious momos. To prepare these momos you can choose either to have a chicken or pork meat filing and with the vegetarians too not wanting to be left out in trying this cuisine, today certain outlets in the city even serve veg momos as well. I will write about the pork momos as it is a readily available meat across Guwahati city and also my personal favourite as well. The fat in the pork meat is what does wonders to this momo recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine and thus making it all the juicier.

Select about 300 gms of pork meat and ensure to have boneless section that is a mix of the pork skin, fat and meat as well, and chop them into tiny pieces. Chop an onion, garlic, ginger and put all of these in a bowl and add salt, bit of sugar, soya sauce and mix well and keep aside. Now to prepare the dough take flour in a bowl and add little salt, oil and eggs and mix properly so that everything mixes well together and keep to rest for 30 minutes. The pork moms are incomplete without the soup and the spicy chutney and to prepare the soup we will use chicken meat. The momo steamer is a unique apparatus that is basically a four layered structure with the top three layers having holes in the bottom and the bottom layer to hold water to steam the momos. So in the lower layer we will prepare the soup and in this layer add water, the chicken pieces chopped into small sized along with the bones and mix with salt, turmeric powder, pork fat and skin, coriander leaves, crushed ginger and garlic and onions, green chillies, ground pepper and mix well. Now to make the momos take the dough (prepared with Maida flour) and roll them into small sized round rotis and take a spoonful of the pork meat and put it at the centre and wrap up the dough roll as you like to make a round formation.

In the upper container add little oil and smear it across the surface so the moms do not stick to the container once steamed up or else they will break. Once the momos are placed on the upper container then light up the flame and put the momo apparatus on top of it and allow it to boil. In the meantime we will prepare the chutney of green chillies, coriander leaves and tomato and to make this take a bunch of green chillies and put in the blender, chop a tomato in half and also put it in the blender followed by chopped coriander and some salt. Peel a few garlic pods and fry them in hot mustard oil and put them in the blender and blend to a fine paste and you chutney is ready to be served once the momos are ready. Once you hear the soup at the bottom container boiling it is time to check whether the momos are done or not and you can open the top lid and check for one of the momos. You will realize that the momos are done once you see the pork fat melting and coating the outer skin of the dough and this is the sign that the momos are ready. Taste the soup as well and if the salt is right it is time to serve the momos on a nice plate, the soup in a bowl and the chutney alongside the momos.

Coming to some of the other fast food items in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine these types of food are to be found available at the small fast food outlets across the cities and towns and they churn out quite a tasty retreat in the Assamese cuisine using the food skills of the Chinese cuisine. One very famous food that is found and is easy to prepare at home as well is the fried rice recipes. Generally they are found in many variants like veg fried rice, egg fried rice, chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, etc. And to get the best out of all the flavours we will prepare the mix fried rice that is a combination of all the flavours of the meat and prawns as well. To prepare each of the recipes of the fried rice in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine I will mention each of the steps in the preparations and you can choose to prepare any of the fried rice recipes you want at home. The main ingredient of the fried rice is the boiled rice and so to prepare this white rice it is always recommended to prepare the rice in a pit and not in a pressure cooker because in the pressure cooker the rice becomes sticky and this is not desirable in the fried rice recipes because we would want the rice grains to be separate in the fried rice recipes of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

Once the rice is ready add in some vegetable oil in the vessel in which the rice was cooked and mix well with your hands so that the rice grains do not stick to each other and the same has to be same with noodles as well. Now the ingredients of the fried rice have to be made ready. At first we will see the recipe of veg fried rice and the egg fried rice. To the vegetables part we use vegetables like potatoes, onions, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, carrots, peas, beans, coriander leaves, etc. Chop at the vegetables into thin pieces and keep aside. Now we also add soya chunks to the veg fried rice recipe and at first take a few soya chunks and put them in hot water for a while and once they turn soft and bulge due to absorption of water we chop them into halves. Now take a Kadhai and add vegetable oil in the Kadhai and allow to heat. Temper with dried red chillies and later add in the chopped garlic followed by the onions pieces. Now add in the chopped vegetables and the soya chunks followed by salt, turmeric powder and jeera powder and mix well. Once the vegetables are cooked add in the rice followed by little soya sauce and keep frying by stirring the contents over a high flame. Once done add in a little bit of the chilli powder for the colour followed by the coriander leaves and your fried rice is ready to be served with ketchup.

To prepare the egg fried rice once you fry the vegetables then break two eggs in the Kadhai and scramble the eggs well and later add in the rice and fry it. Your egg fried rice is ready to be served with ketchup. For the ingredients involving the meat like chicken and pork one has to ensure to cook the meat at first and later use to add it in the fried rice recipe. In these fast food stalls the cooks generally boil the meat with salt, turmeric powder and chilli powder and keep it aside and once the requirement of these recipes come they add in the pieces before adding the vegetables.  After the chicken and pork meat are boiled properly they are shred into smaller pieces and kept aside. Same in the case with the prawns as well. In the fired rice recipes generally we use the small river prawns and not the giant tiger prawns. Based on the order when a customer orders for chicken fried rice or the pork fried rice, the cook at first take the Kadhai and heats oil and adds in the garlic and onions and fries the meat first and later adds in the vegetables and the spices and the soya sauce and later he adds the eggs followed by the rice and chilli powder and coriander leaves. This prepares your recipe of either the chicken or pork fried rice recipes.

Coming to the mixed fried rice recipes, the same procedure is followed and only the prawns are added along with the meat and then the rice to prepare the mixed fried rice recipe. Now coming to another favourite of the fast foods of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisne are the noodle recipes and it is very much similar to the fried rice recipes and only instead of the rice we will use noodles to prepare these recipes. To prepare the noodles you can purchase noodle packets from the market and boil them in water and once they are soft remove them and drain under cold water and sprinkle little vegetable oil so that the noodles do not stick to each other. You can follow the similar procedure of cooking the noodles as the fried rice and you can add cabbage and do not add turmeric powder while preparing the noodles and instead add the turmeric powder while boiling the noodle itself while preparations of the veg noodles, egg noodles, chicken noodles or the pork noodles. Another very famous snack recipe available in certain fast food stalls in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine is the Aalo Tikki chat that is basically a potato chop topped with boiled peas and spices. To prepare this Aalo Tikki recipe we will need to boil potatoes and peel them and mash them up. Chop onions, tomatoes and little ginger garlic paste and mix with the potatoes and add salt, turmeric powder, cumin powder and coriander powder and make these into balls and flatten it and add little bread crumbs on the Aalo Tikki and fry them in the oil.

Now boil peas (bottle peas) or dried peas that have been soaked in water. Heat oil in a Kadhai and make a curry by frying onions, green chillies, garlic and adding salt, turmeric powder and garam masala powder and later add the peas topped with coriander leaves and keep aside. Now take an Aalu Tikki in a bowl and flatten it with your hands and pour the peas on top of it followed by chopped onions, tomatoes, chopped cabbage, green chillies, coriander leaves and top with little salt, chilli powder and chat masala powder and your Aalu Tikki chat is ready to be served. The same goes with the all-time favourite snack recipe of the pani puri or Fuska as it is called in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. To prepare the fuska the puri is available in the market and you can buy a pack of it. To prepare the inner filling we will use the boiled peas, boiled potatoes and add chopped onions, salt, chat masala powder, red chilli powder, coriander leaves, and green chillies and mix well. Now to prepare the tangy water we will soak tamarind seeds and mix with the water and add pudina, coriander leaves, salt and masala powder to make the pani of the pani puri. Now take a puri and make a hole with your thumb on top and fill it with the potato and peas mix and dip it in the tangy pani and savour the delight of the pani puri of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

Now we will come to another favourite fast food recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisne and this is the various variants of rolls or wraps like egg rolls, chicken rolls, veg rolls and the various twists to it like the one’s available at certain outlets in Guwahati (J14s) viz. Baba roll, chicken seekh kebab roll, paneer roll, egg cheese roll, chicken cheese roll, etc. The basic preparation of these rolls remains the same and only the inner filling differs that brings about the unique taste to these fast food delights in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. To prepare these rolls recipes the main ingredient is that of the wheat Atta that is used to prepare the dough and further the roti that is wrapped with the inner fillings and is held together by a paper and people start to eat the roll from one end and end it by gradually opening the covering and finishing to eat the roll. To prepare the roll at first you will need to take Atta and add some vegetable oil and salt to it and mix it with some warm water and prepare the dough. Now you allow it to rest for some time and in the mean time you prepare the inner filling to be put in the dough. In case you are preparing a vegetable roll then take some vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, cabbage, beans, etc. and chop them into very small pieces and start by heating oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot put in the onions, garlic and later add in the other vegetables followed by salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and fry well.

Once the vegetables are cooked remove it from the Kadhai and keep aside. Now prepare small rolls from the dough and prepare a round roti and while preparing the roti add in little oil on the sides on the Tawa and now on a flat surface take the wrapping paper and place the roti on it so that is half outside the area of the paper and half inside the area of the paper. Take Mayonnaise and spread it across the roti and now add in the fried vegetables on one half of the roti and also add chopped raw onions, green chillies, a little chopped coriander and chat masala powder. Now wrap up the roti along with the paper and at the end where the paper is protruding fold it to fit inside the edge of the roti. Serve with tomato sauce and chilli sauce and your veg roll is ready. Now to prepare the egg roll it follows a similar procedure and only before you add the roti on the Tawa take the oil on the Tawa and at first prepare a road omelette out of the eggs on the Tawa or you can do it the other way as well where you first add the roti to the Tawa and pout oil on it and later add the eggs on the roti and flip is once and allow to cook properly on both sides.

Now you can add in the Mayonnaise followed by the vegetable filling and serve this egg roll with the accompaniments of tomato and chilli sauce. The most popular roll recipes however remain the ones prepared with the chicken filling and though it is not found commonly the ones with the filling of the minces mutton called as the mutton keema roll. The variants of the chicken roll differ and it is mostly the filling of the chicken meat. At certain places the meat available is not the chicken fry and so the only roll available is the chicken roll while in certain fast food joints where they have a tandoori setup they prepare various roll recipes like tandoori chicken roll, reshmi kebab roll, lasuni Tikka chicken roll, chicken Tikka roll, etc. and it is again marinating the chicken loaded with various spices and cooked in the tandoor and later chopped up and added inside the roti to prepare the chicken roll with various flavours.

Say for example we will prepare the general chicken roll recipe. In this recipe the cook in the restaurant generally prepares a chicken curry to be served with the Thalis that are served in many Assamese restaurants. Once the order for the chicken roll comes to him he takes a few boneless pieces of meat from the chicken curry and places it on a neat plate and chops it up into smaller pieces. Now he follows the normal preparations of an egg roll and once the roti with egg is prepared it is places on the table and the mayonnaise is added to the roti followed by the chicken pieces. Later the chicken is topped with the chopped onions, green chillies, coriander leaves, mint leaves, tomatoes and the roll is wrapped up and the paper is twisted and put firmly on the other end of the roll and the chicken roll is served with the tomato and chilli sauce. In case the order is for the chicken tandoori kebab roll then the meat is taken on skewers and cooked in a tandoori over and later chopped into pieces and placed on the rolls followed by the other ingredients and wrapped and served with the pudina chutney. Nowadays roll preparations across restaurants have become more easier as the rotis to prepare the rolls are easily available in the form of packed paratha and the only thing you need to do is to heat uip the paratha in the Tawa and add little oil and he roti to prepare the roll is ready and the same can be used to prepare the various roll recipes in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

Another version of the roll recipe that is gaining popularity among the vegetarian lovers of the city are the paneer tolls that is the cottage cheese and various toll recipes are prepared with the paneer as well. To prepare a paneer roll you cannot add eggs as the vegetarians do not eat eggs and so you will simply need to fry the roti first and then the paneer filling. Generally the paneer doesn’t have any distinct taste to it and so it is necessary to make the paneer to taste good before add into the rolls. You can simply fry the paneer with onions, tomatoes and spring onions and add little ketchup and soya sauce to make the inner filling or you can also try the paneer bhurji recipe we had made earlier. Once you have the filling ready simply chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies and mix with the paneer and add it to the roti and you paneer roll is ready to be served with tomato and chilli sauce.

When you are writing about the urban cooking of a particular cuisine then one dish that comes to mind in India is the Maggi noodles that happens to be an urban favourite and is a fast food that is enjoyed by the children and adults both alike. Branded as the two minute instant noodles, the Nestlé’s Maggi has found a unique niche in the instant noodles or rather the complete noodles segment because whenever people refer to as noodles they often mean Maggi and it is synonymous. A simple packaging of the noodles and a sachet of Masalas the comes in two flavours Masala Maggi and Chicken Maggi and to prepare a simple recipe of maggi noodles you need to boil water (about one and half cups) for serving of the noodles and once the water is hot, the noodles is added to it followed by the masala powder and mixed well and this is the ready to eat maggi noodles. Over the years people have come up with various modifications to this simple noodles recipe and things that one could have never thought about are now being made with the maggi noodles like maggi noodles samosa, maggi noodles sandwich, magic noodles masala, egg maggi, etc. At first we will prepare the egg maggi recipe that is a simple to prepare.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
The delightful recipe of Maggi noodles with a twist in the urban cooking of Assam

The maggi noodles have to be bought and at the time you need to chop a small onion, green chills, tomato and coriander leaves. Now heat oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the onions, green chillies and tomatoes. Add in the maggi masala and later add an egg and fry well. Now add the one and half cups of water to the Kadhai and bring to a boil. Add in the maggi noodles and once the water is soaked in the noodles add in the coriander leaves and mix well. You can also make this into soupy noodles and to make this soupy you need to add in about another cup of water. Many people also add chicken and pork in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine to their maggi recipes and as this maggi is often had for breakfast so they cook it with the left-over chicken or pork meat from the refrigerator. The procedure followed is simple, once the onions, tomatoes and green chillies are being fried the already cooked meat is added to the Kadhai and fried for a while and this time the egg is boiled and kept separately. Once the meat and vegetables are fried up (you can also add in a potato to it and chop it into small inch sized pieces and before adding the onions and tomatoes to the oil fry the potatoes).

Once everything is fried up add in the water and bring to a boil and later add in the maggi noodles and the masala and later serve the maggi with the coriander leaves and the boiled eggs on top. Another way to prepare the maggi and for it to taste delicious is simply with lots of vegetables like carrots, peas, beans, potatoes and at first you fry up the onions and these vegetables followed by the tomato and add in the water and the masala and the maggi noodles and later once the maggi noodles are ready you top it with butter and the resultant dish is quite delicious. Coming to the samosas that is a loved food of the country that is basically as triangle fritter filled with potatoes, peas and peanuts and is savoured by small children and grown men. Often the filling is also of mutton keema and is a favourite snack recipe during the month of Ramadan. At first I will explain about how to prepare a potato stuffing and later how it is made with maggi noodles filling and mutton keema filling. The foremost thing is to prepare the filling of the potatoes and this can be done by boiling about 2 big sized potatoes and later peeling the skin and mashing them up and keeping it aside.

The dough gas to be prepared first and for that we will use flour and to it we will add a little vegetable oil, ghee and also add a little vegetable oil, ghee and also add the sesame seeds and later add warm water to make the dough and allow it to rest for some time. Now to prepare the inner filling we have already boiled potatoes and the peas and now we will heat oil in a Kadhai and prepare the inner filling by putting in fennel seeds in the oil followed by onions, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder. Now we add the ground nuts to the oil and after it is fried for some time we will add the mashed potatoes and the boiled peas. Once everything is mixed up we will top with coriander leaves and keep it aside and prepare the outer coating to fill in the potato mix in it. Now take the dough and make round balls and make it in the shape of a round roti and slice it into half in the shape of a semi-circle. Take the half and fold it into a triangle shaped cone and on the open end take some of the potato filling and stuff it in the samosa and wrap it up  and keep it aside.

Do it for the entire dough and you should have about ten samosas at the end. Now heat the oil again and once the oil is hot, fry the samosa pieces in the oil and once they turn golden brown remove from the fire and serve with ketchup or the pudina chutney and this makes the favourite Indian snacks of the Samosas. Now many variants are also present because as mentioned earlier there is a mutton keema samosa as well and the preparation is similar and only the inner filling is made by frying and flavouring of the minced mutton and this has a very unique and distinct flavour to it. To prepare the mutton keema samosa you will need about 250 gms of minced goat meat and this will need to be boiled in a pressure cooked at first to make the meat very tender. Once boiled do not discard the water as we will use it to prepare the mutton keema fry along with potatoes. Heat oil in a Kadhai and once hot temper with dried red chillies and add onions, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, and potatoes and fry properly. Add in the minced mutton pieces to the Kadhai followed by the spices of salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, jeera powder and the meat masala powder and fry well.

Now add in the chopped tomatoes and go on frying until the tomatoes have become mushy and blended well with the meat. End it by adding chopped coriander leaves on top and we will prepare the dough like we made earlier for the samosas and stuff the mutton keema in the samosas and keep ready for frying. Heat up vegetable oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot fry the samosas in it and your mutton keema samosa are ready to be served with the mint chutney. But mind you these samosa recipes are very oily and hence it is always recommended to use a tissue paper to drain the excess oil. It might seem a cumbersome process to prepare these samosas especially when it for 2-3 people and therefore it is recommended to buy and eat from decent sweet shops if the number of people are less and only to make these samosa recipes when there is a family gathering. Now coming to the maggi stuffed samosas, you can prepare this very easily because the stuffing preparation doesn’t take much of time.

The way we have prepared the vegetable maggi we will prepare this maggi stuffing in the same way by first frying the chopped potatoes in the oil and later adding the onions, green chillies, carrot, beans, peas and any other vegetable of your choice. Once the potatoes are soft add in the magic masala packets in the mix and later add water and the coriander leaves and allow the water to evaporate completely. Now prepare the dough and make it into a roti shape and slice in half. Wrap up the outer covering and stuff with the maggi noodles and close the wrap and fry it in hot oil and you maggi samosa is ready to be served with tomato ketchup. As I mentioned earlier the various recipes of maggi noodles have been found to be introduced by the various urban cooking recipes of the Assamese cuisine to an extent that the maggi noodles are also used as a stuffing in the roll recipes we had prepared and even a pakora recipe as well. To prepare the maggi roll we will use the already available Kerela paratha and heat them in a Tawa and add little oil while frying it.

Now we will prepare the chicken maggi like we did earlier with the left over chicken and keep it aside. Now we also make an egg omelette and put it on the roll and ensure that the omelette fills the roll and add the chicken maggi stuffing inside and wrap it up and serve with mayonnaise and tomato ketchup. These are various recipes of the Assamese cuisine to prepare the humble recipe like that of maggi noodles and another one we learn to prepare is the maggi pakora that is again very easy to prepare. Begin by boiling a cup and half of water and prepare the maggi noodles and allow the water to evaporate completely. Now take vegetables like onions, capsicum, potatoes and carrot and dice them into very small slices and put the vegetables in a large bowl. You can also add minced chicken pieces to it and add the maggi noodles to this bowl and mix well. Now heat oil in a Kadhai and once hot take a spoon and use it to drop the balls of this mixture in the oil and fry well on both sides and your maggi fritters/pakora are ready to be served with ketchup or pudina chutney.

Coming to two more recipes that can be made with maggi are the sandwich maggi and the burger maggi. These two popular snack recipes have caught on well with the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine and many places serve delightful sandwich recipes to their customers. From veg sandwich, chicken sandwich, cheese sandwich one can find various options to choose from when it comes to these maggi recipes. To prepare the sandwich the main ingredient is the bread and once has to select a rich whole grain bread to prepare the sandwich. A sandwich in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine can be either grilled or served just without grilling. To prepare a veg sandwich we will use two slices of big bread and the filling will have butter, cheese, omelette, tomato, onions, lettuce, mashed potatoes and the accompaniments of the certain spices. Take a Tawa and heat it and in a bowl break an egg and add salt and turmeric powder and green chillies and prepare an omelette and fold it to fit inside the bread. Now on one side of the bread spread little butter followed by the omelette and a cheese slice. Take a whole onions and slice it into very thin slices and do the same with the tomatoes are well. Take some boiled potatoes and on the Tawa fry it with salt, turmeric powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and put it on the sandwich.

Now spread a lettuce leaf on top and add in salt and crushed pepper and put the other slice of bread on top. This can be wrapped up in a foil or tissue paper and you can also choose to grill it as well. You can also add shredded pieces of chicken on top as another later to make a chicken sandwich. In case you do not eat eggs at all so not add the omelette and instead you can stuff with paneer bhurji and add more of vegetables like carrot and beetroot thin sliced. Now coming to the magic filled sandwich this has to be grilled to be savoured. Prepare the veg maggi recipe like we did earlier and ensure to allow the water to evaporate completely. Now take the bread slice and out butter and cheese spread and later add the onions and the tomatoes that have been finely chopped. Put the maggi layer now and put the slice of the other brad and grill it in a sandwich maker and once it is ready you can see the cheese melt on the top of the sandwich and this maggi sandwich is ready to be served with mayonnaise and tomato ketchup.

An accompaniment that goes very well with the sandwich is the fries and as potato is available in Assam in plenty the fried made with these organic potatoes are even tastier. Though I do not know how to prepare the fried of the likes of the Mc Donald’s but I can tell about an easy homemade recipe of these fried or the potato fingers in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. We will need about 3 medium sized potatoes and we will make long inched sized pieces of these potatoes. Now we will clean it properly with water and keep them aside after drying the water properly from the potatoes. Now we heat up vegetable oil and the oil has to turn hot completely and once hot reduce the flame to medium and wait for a while and then gently add in the chopped potatoes in the Kadhai and allow frying well. As we have not added any spices to the potatoes yet they will not become golden brown and once you see them slightly bulging due to the frying you need to remove them from the oil and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle little salt and red chilli powder on these fried and close the bowl with a plate and shake well and your fries are ready to be served with the sandwich and burger recipes.

Burgers too have become an important part of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine and I will narrate about a special Vada Pav that is the Indian form of a burger very famous across Mumbai and Maharashtra and this has found a place in certain of the eating joints of the urban cities and towns of Assam as well. To prepare the Vada Pav (Indian Burger) we will need the Pav (special bread) that is about a square sized of two inches and inside it is cut and filled with a pudina chutney and a Vada (chop made with potatoes and peas and chillies). Also called as the ‘Batata Vada’ this is found to be a very tasty street food delight of the urban cooking in the Assamese cuisine. To prepare we will need to boil two medium sized potatoes and once boiled peel them and mash them up and keep aside. Now we will make a paste of ginger and garlic and green chillies and keep them aside. Now to fry up the ingredients we will heat little mustard oil in a Kadhai and once hot temper it with whole jeera seeds, asofieda and once fried add in the paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies. Now take this entire mixture and put it in the bowl where we had kept the mashed potatoes.

Mix these well together and now it is time to prepare the outer coating of the besan to coat this mashed potato and later fry them and put them in between the ‘Pav’ (Bread) to prepare the Vada Pav recipe. Take about three spoons full of besan (Chick pea flour) and add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and mix well and add little water to it to make a paste so that the potato balls can be put into it and made into a batter to be fried. Now heat oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot take few green chillies sand slit them and add salt and fry them up and keep aside and this will be served as a side dish along with the Vada Pav recipe. Now in the same oil make round balls of the potatoes and dip it in the batter we prepared and fry them up properly on both sides and this will make the batch of the Vada Pav ready. Now we need to fry and remove these Vadas and keep aside. Take one of the Buns and slice it into half and on one side smear the pudina chutney that we has prepared earlier and push the Vada inside it. You can also slice onions into thin slices and put them inside the Vada Pav and serve this with the green chillies fried that we had prepared and the entire preparation turns out to be a wonderful recipe.

This is a symbolic dish of Mumbai (the Financial Capital of India) and is savoured by the people them for breakfast, snacks and even lunch as well. Another famous North Indian recipe that we have to make a mention as many of them live in parts of Assam and they prepare this recipe and it has become a part of the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine is the Rajma Chawal (Kidney beans and White rice) that is to be found in certain restaurants and is a speciality dish. To prepare the Rajma Chawal recipe we will take the kidney beans about 2 cups and these have to be soaked in water overnight and then only they turn soft or else if you pressure cook the Rajma it will not cook properly. After the soaking is done overnight meaning that is a special breakfast recipe and even dinner as well. Once the Rajma have been soaked clean them up with water and put them aside. Now chop onions, tomatoes, green chillies, garlic and ginger into thin slices and do not mash them up like we did for the other recipes. Chop coriander leaves and keep aside.

Now heat a pressure cooker and add mustard oil and temper with bay leaf, dried red chillies and whole cumin seeds. Add in the chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste. Now fry well until the tomatoes turn mushy and add in the Rajma beans in the pressure cooker and fry for some time. Add salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder and keep frying by adding little water. Now pour about 2 cups of water and close the pressure cooker and allow to pressure cook for 5 whistles. Allow the cooker to release the air on its own and later open the lid of the pressure cooker. Now start the flame again and put the cooker over it as we do not want too much of water in the gravy and also we need to add a few more things to prepare the Rajma completely. Once the Rajma gravy starts boiling add in amchur powder about a teaspoon and also add garam masala powder as well. Now go on boiling until the gravy has become thick and check for salt and if correct add in the chopped coriander leaves on the Rajma and this is ready to be served with white rice. In the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine most of the people do not cook the rice in a vessel and instead they use a pressure cooker to cook the rice and so to prepare this we will take about two cups of rice in a pressure cooker and clean the rice properly and soak it in the water for about 15 minutes as this will allow the rice to soak in the water and become soft. Now the water level has to be right and always use your finger to measure the amount of water to be added in the rice. In the index finger the first marking on your finger is the amount of water you need to have above the rice in the pressure cooker. Now close the pressure cooker and allow to pressure cook on a medium flame for about 3 whistles and your rice is ready to be served with the Rajma.

Another interesting urban cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine is the Kabuli Chana bhaji or as it is famous across North India as the Chole. Though across the other parts of the country it is served with a Big Puri called as the Bhatura in the Assamese cuisine it is had with rice only. To prepare the Kabuli chana recipe we will need to soak in Kabuli Chana (Big sized Chick pea) in water for about 5 hours and later take a pressure cooker and pressure cook the Kabuli Chana for about 5 whistles and callow the cooker to release the air on its own. Now we heat a Kadhai and pour mustard oil and once the oil is hot temper it with dried red chillies and bay leaves and add in chopped onions, ginger garlic past, tomatoes, and green chillies and allow to fry properly. Now add in salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and keep frying. Later add in the chick peas from the pressure cooked in the Kadhai and discard the water. Now keep frying for some time and add the crushed whole garam masala powder on it and add water and boil for some time while the gravy has become thick and your Kabuli Chana is ready to be served after topping with ghee and coriander leaves and these are absolutely delicious to eat. Mind you as these are legumes so they tend to facilitate to create intestinal gas and so snot be surprised if you follow a bout of intestinal gas release once you eat the Rajma and Kabuli Chana recipes. The green salad in the Assamese cuisine is different because we add the Moong and small Chick pea in the salad as well. To prepare the green salad recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine at first we will soak the Moong and chana in water for about 4 hours to allow it to become soft and later we will clean and chop onions, tomatoes, radish, carrot, beetroot, and cucumber in small sixed pieces and keep aside. Now we take a cup of the soaked but and mogu (chickpeas and Moong) and add it to the bowl of the vegetables. Add chopped coriander leaves, salt, little mustard oil and lemon juice and mix well and your green salad recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisne is ready to be served.

Another very popular recipe in the urban cooking as well as the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine is that of the raw jackfruit. The jackfruit when it ripens is a delicious fruit to eat and once you eat the flesh of the fruit you will find the seeds and these seeds are not discarded in the Assamese cuisine and instead these area cleaned and allowed to dry in the sun and later these are added to the dal recipe and also boiled and made into a chutney as well. The raw jackfruit is peeled and the flesh chopped into square inch sized pieces and later they are made into thick gravy and the jackfruit flesh tastes like meat itself and once it is made to cook properly there is nothing more delicious than this. But this is a very cumbersome task to peel the jackfruit and the sap that comes out of the fruit makes your clothes dirty so this is to be prepared only under supervision of a person who knows and has prepared the jackfruit curry earlier. In certain markets the vendors are kind enough to peel and chop the jackfruit (Kothal in Assamese) for a certain nominal price and if you can get them to do this then the preparation becomes much easier. Once you get the jackfruit it will not be made into fine pieces and so you will need to chop it into inched sized pieces.

Now the jackfruit has a hard flesh and to make it soft it is always recommended to pressure cook this at first so that the flesh becomes tender and later you prepare it into a curry just like mutton or the country chicken meat. In a pressure cooker add the chopped jackfruit pieces and add little salt and turmeric powder and pressure cook for about 3-4 whistles and once done allow the cooker to release the air on its own. Now in the meantime prepare the other ingredients that are needed to prepare this jackfruit curry and for this we will prepare a paste of onions, a paste of ginger garlic and green chillies and a paste of tomato and also chop coriander leaves and 2 potatoes. Now we will take a Kadhai and once the oil is hot we temper it with whole garam masala (Cloves, cinnamon and cardamom) and bay leaves followed by the dried red chillies. Now add in the onion paste and fry well followed by the paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies. Add in the turmeric powder, jeera powder and coriander powder and now add in the jackfruit from the pressure cooker into the Kadhai and allow to fry evenly for some time. Now add in the tomato paste and go on cooking until you see the jackfruit is tender.

Now add water to the Kadhai and bring to a boil and cover the lid of the Kadhai. Covering of the Kadhai with a lid quickens the cooking process and also the water from the curry evaporates quickly. Keep stirring the curry in between so that the flavours spread well across the dish and once the gravy has become thick this means that the jackfruit curry is ready and you can top it with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti. Coming to the seeds of the jackfruit it is again a delightful retreat and you can use the seeds to add in the dal or even make a pitika put of these seeds as well. To prepare the jackfruit (Kothal) seed with dal you will need to take a cup of the Masoor Dal and clean it properly with salt and water and later put it in a pressure cooker with water, salt, half a tomato and turmeric powder and also add in the jackfruit (Kothal) seeds and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Allow the pressure cooker to release the air on its own and remove the lid of the pressure cooker and take out the jackfruit (Kothal) seeds and mash the dal properly with a whisker.

Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch phuron. Now add in chopped onions, garlic and green chillies and later add in the dal in the Kadhai after reducing the flame. Now turn the flame high again and bring the dal to a boil and add in the jackfruit seeds in the dal and later top with coriander leaves and your dal with Kothal seeds is ready to be served. If you would like to eat the Kothal seeds as the Pitika then you have to take the seeds and instead of adding it to the dal, take them out after boiling and keep them in a bowl. Now chop onions, green chillies and coriander leaves and put all in a bowl. Also add a boiled potato to it and add salt and red chilli powder and mash them up in the bowl and your Kothal Guti Pitika is ready to be served as an accompaniment with your meal. One vegetable that goes well with the Kothal seeds is the Kumura (White Gourd) and you need to chop the Kumura into small pieces and also chop the Kothal seeds in half before preparing this dish in the village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine. One fish that goes well with this curry is the Boriola fish that is a small fish and you need to clean the fish at first and keep aside rubbed with salt and turmeric powder.

Now chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and make a paste of ginger and garlic and also coriander leaves. N0ow heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and fry the fish at first and remove from the oil and later temper the hot oil with bay leaves and dried red chillies and whole jeera seeds. Add in the onions, ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry well. Now add in the Kumura, potato and the Kothal seeds. Add salt, turmeric powder and keep frying by closing the lid of the Kadhai. Keep checking for the vegetables and also stirring in the process. Once everything looks cooked add in the chopped tomato and fry for some time and later add water in the Kadhai and bring the curry to a boil and add in the fish pieces and allow the curry to boil. Once you see the gravy turning thick break the potatoes and this will make the curry more flavourful and inviting and finally top with coriander leaves and your Kumura, Kothal guti aru Masor torkari (Fish curry with White Gourd, jackfruit seeds) is ready to be served.

Coming back to the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine recipes I had spoken about the influence of the Chinese cuisine in the urban eating of the Assamese cuisine and you can find numerous Chinese restaurants across the cities and towns that specialize in Chinese recipes. While some of them are very authentic as they have chefs trained to prepare these delights all the way from China and some even have ancestral Chinese links and they prepare everything from scratch at their place including noodles and some are just kind of fast food places whose idea of Chinese cuisine is lots of soya sauce, chilli sauce, tomato sauce and MSG. Since we are preparing the cuisine in the home style recipes we will prepare the Chinese recipes with a hint of touch of the Assamese ingredients as well. We will first prepare the Chilli Chicken recipe in the Assamese cuisine style and to prepare this recipe we will need about 500 gms of broiler chicken and you can use the boneless chicken but I prefer to use the ones with bones because the left over bones can be fed to the dogs who wait neat my house every morning and afternoon and I feed them with rice and chicken. So once you get the chicken clean it under running water with salt and turmeric powder and keep aside.

We will need to fry the chicken after coating them in a batter and for this we will use corn flour and add an egg to it to make a batter and add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and make the batter and put the chicken pieces in the batter and mix well and allow to rest for a while. Meantime we will take the vegetables of onions and chop into four pieces and individually remove the scales of the onions and keep aside, chop carrots, thin potato slices, beans and green chillies and spring onions and mix all of these together. Now heat refined oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot reduce the flame and fry the chicken pieces from the batter in the oil in batches and once the chicken turn’s reddish in colour remove from the oil and keep aside. Now in the same oil add in the vegetables and allow them to cook for some time with the lid closed. Once you see the vegetables are soft take the chicken pieces and add them in the Kadhai and add little soya sauce and chilli sauce and tomato puree and allow to fry for some time. You Chilli Chicken recipe is the urban cooking style of the Assamese cuisine is ready to be served with fried rice or noodles.

This same recipe can be used to prepare chilli pork, chilli egg, chilli paneer and chilli prawns. As mentioned earlier each that a lot of people eat pork in the urban as well as rural cooking of the Assamese cuisine and hence a chilli pork recipe is often prepared as well. As to the pork chilli preparation generally the pork is not fried with the batter and instead added to the cooking of the chilli pork recipe after boiling it and allowing it to rest for a while. The other preparations remains the same of chopping the onions into cube sized pieces and allowing the layers of the onions to be individual pieces, slicing the ginger and garlic into small pieces, chopping tomatoes, spring onions, green chillies, carrots, etc. Now to prepare the chilli pork or rather any pork recipe boiling of the pork with salt and turmeric powder to get rid of the bacteria from the pork meat is utmost necessary. Simply take the pork and clean it in water and put it in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder and allow to pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Once the pressure cooker releases the air take out the pork and drain the water as it is not needed. Ensure at first to boil the pork in bog chunks and later you need to slice the chunks into thin slat square sizes and this is the way to slice the pork meat in the chilli pork recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

Now heat vegetable oil in a non-stick Kadhai and temper the oil with dried red chilli and star anise and later add in the chopped ginger and garlic followed by the onions and tomatoes and the vegetables and stir fry for a while and add the sliced pork meat followed by soya sauce, chilli sauce and MSG. Now not add tomato puree or sauce as we have used chopped tomatoes and allow to cook with the lid covered. Add in spring onions at the end and your chilli pork is ready to be served with fried rice or noodles. Now coming to the chilli egg recipe this is again a similar preparations with all the vegetables and this time we will need to boil the eggs (3 nos) and once the egg are boiled remove the shells of the eggs and chop one egg into four pieces. This time we will need to prepare the batter with corn flour, egg white, salt and soya sauce and mix this batter will and dip the sliced eggs in this batter and allow to rest for a while. The consistency of this batter has to be ensured not to be very neither thick nor thin and ensure it sticks to the eggs and allow it to fry in hot oil for a while and allow to cook evenly on both sides. The batter will ensure the egg yolks do not come out of the eggs and this will also add a unique flavour and sticky texture to the egg as well.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A typical way of roasting pork in skewers in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine

Once done remove the eggs from the oil and continue to follow the similar process of frying the vegetables and adding the eggs followed by salt and the soya sauce and MSG and your chilli egg recipe is ready to be served with fried rice or noodles. The paneer is also a similar method and you can prepare the batter and coat the prawns and fry it and your paneer chilli is ready to be served. One popular recipe of the Chinese cuisine that has found place in the Assamese cuisine is the stir fried pork that is similar to the chilli pork recipe and it doesn’t include too much preparation and can be prepared with any vegetables that are in the refrigerator. Simply chop the pork into thin strips and coil them in a Kadhai with salt and turmeric powder and drain the water. Later chop the vegetables you have into thin strips and heat oil in a Kadhai and stir fry the pork at first and later add in the vegetables followed by soya sauce and MSG and you stir fried pork recipe is ready to be served.

You can replace the pork with either chicken or prawns as well and this will make your stir fried recipe ready. As the people of Assam love their fish recipes and the fish is to be found in abundance across the State the influence of Chinese cuisine in certain fish preparations and are also to be seen and using this method we can prepare a chilli fish recipe that is slightly different from the other chilli recipes and for this we will use a fish that doesn’t have too many bones and one fish that goes well is the Aari fish that doesn’t have too many small bones and only the one at the centre and while you slice the fish ensure to do it properly so that you remove the flesh at first and do not take the bones of the fish. Now prepare the batter by taking corn flour, maida, salt and soya sauce and mix well and chop dip the fish in the batter and allow to rest for a while. To prepare the sauce of the chilli fish we will need ginger, garlic, green chillies, tomato and chop them all into thin slices. At first we will heat oil in a non-stick Kadhai and fry the fish pieces in the oil and keep aside in a serving bowl. Now the sauce has to be prepared and in the same oil used to fry the fish add in the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies and follow with the tomatoes, salt, soya sauce and MSG and fry well and make a sauce by adding the corn flour and water to it.

Once it the done pour the sauce in the bowl where the fish is kept and top with spring onions and your chilli fish is ready to be served and this can be done with the prawns as well to make the chilli prawns. One ingredient that can be used to prepare a vegetarian delight is the potato and the chilli potato recipe is gaining prominence in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine. To prepare the chilli potato follow the process we used to prepare the chilli fish and instead of the batter we will few small sized potatoes and clean them well in water because the skin will not be peeled and boil them in a pressure cooker and while preparing the dish pierce small holes in the potato and add them to the sauce so that it absorbs the flavours of the sauce and top with spring onions and your chilli potato is ready to be served with fried rice or noodles. Another important Chinese recipe that  blends well with the fusion cooking of the Assamese cuisine is the chicken Manchurian recipe and this extends to the veg Manchurian, gobi Manchurian, paneer Manchurian and the egg Manchurian recipes as well and even further  the pork and prawns Manchurian dishes in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisne.

To prepare the chicken Manchurian recipe we will use about 250 gms of boneless chicken and clean them well and put it in a bowl with soya sauce, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, ground pepper. Also add an egg white, rice flour and corn flour to the chicken and mix this well together. The batter and the chicken is ready and keep it aside for about an hour for the flavours to blend inside the chicken meat. Now we need to prepare the sauce and for this we will take a bowl and add cornflour with water and to it we will add vinegar, sugar, salt, soya sauce and tomato sauce and mix this well. Now we heat oil in a non-stick Kadhai and fry the marinated chicken pieces in the batter and deep fry the pieces and keep them aside. In the same oil we fry the ginger and garlic and onions and capsicum shred into pieces. Now pour the sauce in the Kadhai and water to it and bring it to a boil. Check for salt and later add in the fried chicken pieces in the gravy and allow to cook until it becomes a thick gravy. The chicken Manchurian is a thick gravy and so it is generally offered as a started and also in the main course recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A typical village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine of Pork steamed in banana leaf

Now top with spring onions and the chicken Manchurian is ready to be served as a started with drinks or tea as well. To prepare a signature vegetarian Manchurian dish we use cauliflower and this popular recipe in the urban cooking of the Assamese cuisine is the Gobi Manchurian for the vegetarian lovers. To prepare this at first boil the cauliflower after chopping into smaller pieces and ensure that you do not over boil it or else it will mash up and break and ensure to boil just so that the stem of the cauliflower has become soft. Now follow the similar recipe we used to prepare the chicken Manchurian and your Gobi Manchurian is ready to be served. You can use paneer to prepare this Manchurian recipe as well and ensure to allow the paneer to rest in the batter for 2 hours to make it soft and follow the similar process and your Paneer Manchurian is ready to be served.

A few of the village cooking recipes of Assam that I learnt during the lockdown prevailing due to the COVID 19 pandemic situation in India and across the World when we were confined to our homes with very meagre resources to eat and people had to survive on the food that were growing at or near their homes and to make matters worse the floods of Assam too started due to the monsoon period and the caretaker at my house and his family who belong to the Bodo tribe of Assam came to my rescue and they used to pluck certain herbs and vegetables growing around our house and we managed to buy pork for us as the area I stay in Guwahati is inhabited by the local Karbi people of Assam who though have adopted the modern way of life living in a metro like Guwahati but when it comes to food they still believe in eating food that are prevalent in the ancient customs and cooking techniques across their villages in the ancient times and so they rear animals for food at home and some even grow their own vegetables. The people at my locality have their own land where they have built their houses and the concept of living in apartments has not been very popular yet and this means that the local people have adequate place for them to grow the local vegetables and produce.

As it was tough times so the caretaker and his wife used to go out to collect the Colocasia stem and leaves (Kosu thari aru Paat) and they would come back with a thick bunch of these and prepare them with pork. Their children who had no studies as most of the schools were shut during this time would go out with handmade fishing rods of bamboo and come back home with a catch of various small fish like Goroi and Seng Maas and they had stocked up dried fish that they would prepare a chutney with chillies and coriander leaves.  To prepare the Kosu aru Gahori they would first separate the stem and leaves of the Kosu plant (Colocasia) and the stem would be cleaned up by first chopping them and removing the black layer that used to be present on the Colocasia plant as this is an itchy part and it causes discomfort in the throat while eating the Kosu. Next they pick and select the leaves that are growing and are tender and not the ones that ate fully grown as these are not good to eat and in certain cases poisonous as well. The next step is to chop them into thin pieces and also add potatoes and to make the Kosu and Gahori delicious they do not boil the stem and instead they fry it properly.

So you begin the cooking process by at first boiling the pork in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder and this allows removing the bacteria from the pork and allowing to pressure cook for 3-4 whistles and later allow the cooker to release the air and take out the meat and drain the water. In the meantime you need to chop onions, make a paste of ginger and garlic and also slit green chillies. One very flavourful and health loaded ingredient to be used in the cooking of this Gahori aru Kosu recipe is the Ginger leaf (Aada Paat) that brings in a distinct flavour to the curry. To remove any itching that might arise due to the consumption of the Kosu stem and leaf we will use any sour vegetables to this curry either tomato or a squeeze of lime as well. In case these are not available you can add crushed pepper corns as well. Now heat a big Kadhai and add little oil to it and fry the Kosu stem and leaves at first. One you see the mixture turning dark brown remove it from the Kadhai and keep aside. Now add little oil again and temper with bay leaves and dried red chillies and later add in the chopped onions and ginger garlic paste and fry well.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A neat presentation of the thali in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine

Add in the pork and potatoes and keep frying for some time and add little turmeric powder and continue to cook. Now put back the Colocasia leaves and stem and continue to fry in low flame. Ensure not to add salt because the salt will not allow the Kosu stem and leaves to release the water and this is necessary as the flavours come out and this mixes well with the pork meat. Now the most important part of the cooking is to mash the Kosu stem and leaf because the flavours of this curry enhances once you mash the Kosu stem and leaves into a pulpy paste like substance. The potatoes too would get mashed along with the curry and that will not be a problem because the flavours will only enhance with this step. Now it is time to add the salt and the green chillies and mix well and later add the chopped tomatoes and allow to mix well. Once you see everything has mashed and blended properly and the only solid thing visible in the curry is the pork meat chunks then add hot water to the Kadhai and bring the curry to a boil. Allow to boil with the lid of the Kadhai covered and allow to cook until this becomes a thick gravy and finally top with the ginger leaves and mix well. In case due to tough times you do not have tomatoes then you can add a squeeze of lime or ground pepper as well.

The tough time delicious recipe of Kosu thari logot Gahori is ready to be served with rice. Now as I told that the children go out to fish with the bamboo fishing rods and they spend the day fishing and come back with a catch of the Goroi or the Seng fish and this will be prepared in a chutney in the evening dinner and to prepare this we will first take the fish and clean them properly as they are naturally found fish and though they are delicious they might feed on certain things that are not desirable and so the fish is cleaned and gutted and later the flesh of the fish is removed from the centre bone after frying the fish in mustard oil with salt and turmeric. These fishes do not have too many small bones and hence you can chew through it easily. Now the fish is kept separately in a bowl and onions are chopped along with green chillies and coriander leaves into small pieces and put them in a bowl along with the fish. Now the main ingredient to be added is the garlic and this has to be chopped into fine pieces and later fried in little mustard oil so that the raw smell of the garlic doesn’t stay in your mouth. Now put everything in a bowl and mix together well with a spoon and you Gori aru Seng Maas pitika is ready to be served with the meal.

Not only during the times of COVID but also during the harsh monsoon season of Assam food becomes scarce and people in villages who enjoy the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine stock up certain essentials to help them in the cooking preparations and as the Namsing is to the Mishing people of Assam, the Bodo people store dried fish to prepare a chutney and this is similar to the process of preparing the Goroi aru Seng Maas pitika we had prepared. To prepare this dry fish chutney you will need to take the dry fish and put them in a bowl and put hot water and salt in the bowl and allow the fish to become soft and also the salt will help to get rid of the bacteria in the fish. Now we follow the procedure that we had done earlier and only thing is that we will need to at first fry the fish in oil and make it crunchy. Now transfer the contents of the fried dried fish, fried garlic pods, green chillies, coriander and salt in a hand pounder and pound it properly and your dried fish is ready to be served with the meal. The banana stem comes as a saviour during these tough times and as we had prepared various recipes earlier with the banana stem (posola) as we have the small fish we can fry them up with the posola and prepare another dish to be served with the meal.

To prepare this fried posola and fish recipe you will need to chop the banana stem into small pieces and along with it you will need to chop a potato into thin slices and mix these together. Chop onion, green chillies and make a paste of ginger garlic in this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine. Now we cannot fry both the fish and the vegetables together as this will cause the fish to break and hence we will at first fry the fish and keep it aside and later in the same oil we will fry the posola and potatoes and at the end mix both these ingredients together. After frying the fish in the same oil add the onions, green chillies and the ginger garlic paste and fry well. Now add in the chopped posola and potato and keep frying until the potatoes and the posola are soft and later you put the fried fish pieces on the Kadhai and mix well with the posola carefully. Top with coriander leaves and your Posola Aalu aru Maas bhaja is ready to be served with your meal.

I will end this write up about the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine by writing about a few pork and pumpkin dishes that are cooked in the village cooking style of the Assamese cuisine and it were prepared by the caretaker at my house who happened to belong to the Bodo tribe of Assam and hence these village cooking recipes I will qualify under the Bodo cooking of the Assam. At first I will write about the Mati Dali Gahori aru Bahonr Gaaj Khar (Pork cooked with Black Dal, Bamboo Shoot and Khar) that we have already prepared one version of it at the beginning but only with Mati Dali (Black Dal) and the Gahori (Pork). At this time we will use the signature ingredients of the Bahonr Gaaj (fresh Bamboo Shoot) and Khar (the extract of the burnt Banana stem) and what happened to be the signature dish of the Assamese cuisine. This will also include the flavours of the Bhut Jolokia (Ghost pepper), Maan Dhania (Naga Coriander) and the Aada Paat (Ginger leaves) and off course the aromatic flavours of the ginger and garlic. To prepare this Mati Dali Gahori aru Bahonr Gaaj Khar we will take about one and half cups of the Mati Dali (Black Dal) and soak these in water for about 4-5 days. This will help to allow the dal to soften up. And as we cooked this recipe during the times of the lockdown situation prevailing in Assam due to the COVID19 pandemic and so the caretaker was able to arrange for the ingredients from near the house itself.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
A delightful pork recipe in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine

The Khar was already present in the caretaker’s house and the pork meat was already brought and kept in the refrigerator, the fresh bamboo shoot was brought from a plot of land near the house that had an abundant growth of bamboo trees and the major ingredients needed to prepare this recipe was ready. It was now time to prepare these ingredients to start the cooking process. The bamboo shoot was sliced up into thin strips and chopped as well and allowed to soak in water for some time and the Khar was taken and mixed with water and the droplets collected after rolling the Khar in a plain cloth. The pork has to be boiled in a pressure cooker with salt and turmeric powder and this will make the meat soft and also remove traces of bacteria from the meat. The meat to be used for cooking in supposed to be brought fresh but due to the tough times we had to manage with the one kept in the refrigerator for a few days. Now once the pork is boiled, remove from the cooker and drain the water and keep the pork aside. Next we will need to boil the Mati Dali in another cooker and in case you do not have a separate cooker then clean this one and put the Mati Dali along with little salt and turmeric powder and allow to pressure cook for 4-5 whistles.

We will now prepare the other ingredients that will flavour up this recipe and hence chop an onion, the Bhut Jolokia (only half), few green chillies, Maan Dhania and make a paste of ginger and garlic and also pluck a few leaves of the ginger and garlic. As we are using Khar to prepare this recipe so do not add tomato as it is a sour vegetable. Now once the Mati Dali is boiled allow the pressure cooker to release the air on its own and later Mash the Mati Dali with a wooden whisker. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with Bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch phuron seeds. Now add in the onions, ginger garlic paste and fry well and add in the slit green chillies and the slice of the Bhut Jolokia. Now add the boiled pork and allow frying for some time and ensuring not to fry too much or else the fat becomes hard and it is not desired. After frying for some time add in the bamboo shoot and continue frying and later add the turmeric powder and salt and now pour in the Mati Dali from the pressure cooker in the Kadhai and bring to a boil. Keep stirring so that the flavours of the meat and the bamboo shoot blend together with the flavour of the Mati Dali.

Now add in the Khar drops and mix well by stirring the contents of the Kadhai continuously and you will see that the curry has now turned from a dark brown to a dark yellow colour due to the addition of the alkaline Khar. Keep boiling for some time and finally top with Maan Dhani and the ginger leaves. Keep on the flame for some time and finally your Mati Dali Gahori aru Bahonr Gaaj Khar (Pork cooked with black Dal, bamboo shoot and Khar) is ready to be served with rice. This is one of the very delicious Khar recipes of the Bodo people in their village cooking of the Assamese cuisine and the flavour of this curry enhances if you cook it over wood fire. We did not have the resources to cook this over wood fire as it was raining heavily but still over the gad flame as well it turned out to be delicious. The next recipe the caretaker had prepared with the remaining pork in the freezer was the Ronga Lau aru Gahori (Pork cooked with pumpkin). Earlier we have prepared the pumpkin recipes with fish and also soya bean but I never knew that we could use the pork as well to prepare such a delicious recipe in the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine. The key to the flavours of this recipe is the use of a big pumpkin and one has to select the right pumpkin because this release a sweet flavour and the colour of the curry also becomes a vibrant orange colour as well.

To start the preparations of this Ronga Lau aru Gahori recipe we will boil the pork in a pressure cooker with little salt and turmeric powder for about 3-4 whistles. Once the pork is boiled and the cooker releases the air on its own take the pork out and discards the water. Now we peel the skin of the pumpkin and chop it into small inched sized pieces and this will allow the pumpkin to dissolve quickly in the curry and also with it we chop two potatoes as well. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and once the oil is hot temper it with Bay leaves and dried red chillies. Add in the onions, ginger garlic paste and green chillies and fry well. Now add the boiled pork and fry for some time and ensure not to fry too much or else the pork meat will again get hard and it will not be desirable. Add in the chopped pumpkin and the potatoes and after frying for a while add salt and turmeric powder. Reduce the flame and cover the Kadhai with a lid and allow to cook in medium heat for some time.

Keep stirring the contents of the Kadhai and later add in the chopped tomatoes. We have to ensure that the pumpkin melts completely and once you see the potatoes have turned soft put hot water in the Kadhai and now turn on the flame and keep boiling the curry with the lid of the Kadhai covered. The water from the curry must have been evaporated by now and you will be left with thick gravy and you now add in the ginger leaves to the curry and your Gahori aru Ronga Lau is ready to be served with rice. The left over pumpkin was used to prepare another curry and this was a vegetarian recipe as we had run out of meat. The caretaker came up with the plan to add dry fish to the pumpkin and prepare a different curry but as my father doesn’t eat and he literally hates the odour of the dry fish so the caretaker decided to prepare the recipe in two separate ways one without the dry fish and one with the dry fish. Basically the pumpkin would be prepared without adding the dry fish at first and once he would remove a portion for my father he would add the dry fish and the flavours of the fish would add a distinct flavour to the curry in this village cooking recipe of the Assamese cuisine.

Assamese Cuisine, Tribal cooking, Village cooking, Village Food, Village Recipes, Kaziranga, Assam
Mati Dali Gahori aru Bahor Gaaj recipe of the village cooking of the Assamese cuisine

To prepare this pumpkin curry we will need half a pumpkin diced into inched sized pieces, chana (gram) that have been soaked in water for about 3 hours, the Kosu Thari (Colocasia stem) with the black skin removed and chopped into thin slices, soya beans, onions, chillies, tomato, ginger garlic paste and ginger leaves. Chop the onions, green chillies, tomato and make a paste of ginger and garlic. Now take the dried fish and put in a bowl of hot water and allow soaking in the water and becoming soft. Now heat mustard oil in a Kadhai and one the oil is hot temper with bay leaves, dried red chillies and paanch phuron. Add in the onions and ginger garlic paste and green chillies and later add in the pumpkin and the potatoes and allow to fry in low flame. Now heat another Kadhai and add oil to it and fry the soaked and dried dry fish in the oil and keep aside. Ensure to cover the lid on the Kadhai while frying. Now check for the pumpkin and add in the chana, soya beans and the Kosu thari and mix well and continue frying in low flame. The pumpkin will take time to melt and the potato also takes time to cook and hence add these ingredients only after the pumpkin and potatoes have fried for some time. Now once the curry is cooked add hot water and boil for some time and once you see all the ingredients are properly cooked add the ginger leaves and remove a portion for people who do not want to eat the dry fish. Now add the dry fish to the Kadhai and allow mixing for some time and letting the fish release the flavours in the curry and your Ronga Lau aru Hukan Maas (Pumpkin cooked with dry fish) is ready to be served.

Thus we have seen the various cooking recipes in the Assamese cuisine have an influence of the village cooking as many indigenous tribes of Assam have carried on their legacy of their ancient food and eating habits. These people believe in eating things that grow in nature around them and so not use any form of artificial cooking in their recipes. They rear their own livestock and have fish in their home ponds and lakes and they are aware of the various natural herbs that grow around them and inculcate them in their daily eating habits. These indigenous people of Assam have always lived and believed in the concept of the statement that ‘let food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food and this is evident from the various village cooking recipes of the Assamese cuisne that we have seen. These food habits are a must to survive in today’s modern world where the various ailments have started to develop in the human body certain of them that were unheard of many years ago. We have also seen the influence of the modern fast food and its cooking techniques embraced by the urban cooking in the Assamese cuisine and though this might have become a necessity in the modern life of the people in the urban areas it is to be remembered that too much of such fast food are a real concern for eh rise in the number of disease in the modern world and hence the induction of the village recipes of the Assam should continue towards one’s food habits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements