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

 

 

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