Inside the ASSAMESE Kitchen

It is Bihu time, lot are happening inside an ASSAMESE Kitchen. Here is the list:

KHAR : A curry mixed with the juice of banana soots. (It is made by drying the trunk of banana plant or banana peels and setting it on fire. The ashes are kept soaked in a coconut shell and the juice that flows out is known as kalakhar.)This dish can be prepared with vegetables, dried night jasmine flowers(Xewali Fhul), fish and dals.

TENGA : A sour dish made either with leafy vegetables like fern-shoots, Taro leaves, fish or dal vadas ,the sourness being produced by the addition of lime juice, elephant apples and tomatoes.

AMBAL : A sweet & sour dish made either with several vegetables ,the sourness being produced by the addition of tamarind pulp which is balanced by the sweetness of jaggery.
BHAJI : Anything fried, either by itself or in batter.

BHAPOT DIYA : Fish or vegetables steamed with oil and spices. A classic steaming technique is to wrap the fish in banana leaf to give it a faint musky, smoky scent.

PITIKA : Any vegetable, such as potatoes, beans, Taro, pumpkins or Brinjal, first boiled whole and then mashed and seasoned with mustard oil or ghee and spices.

SORSORI : Usually a vegetable dish with one or more varieties of vegetables cut into longish strips, sometimes with the stalks of leafy greens added, all lightly seasoned with spices like mustard or poppy seeds and flavoured with a phoron. The skin and bone of large fish like Illish or chitol can be made into a sorsorib.

SOBJI : Tiny pieces of one or more vegetable, usually flavored with panch-phoron or whole mustard seeds or kal jeera. Chopped onion and garlic can also be used, but hardly any ground spices.

LABRA : Mixed vegetables, cooked in a medium thick gravy seasoned with ground spices, especially garom mashla and a touch of ghee.

DOM : Vegetables, especially potatoes, egg or meat, cooked over a covered pot slowly over a low heat.

GHANTO : Different complementary vegtables (e.g., cabbage, green peas, potatoes or banana blossom, coconut) are chopped or finely grated and cooked with both a phoron and ground spices. Ghee is commonly added at the end. Non-vegitarian ghantos are also made, with fish or fish heads added to vegetables. The famous murighanto is made with fish heads cooked in a fine variety of rice. Some ghantos are very dry while others a thick and juicy.

JHOLA : Literally, hot. A great favorite in Assamese households, this is made with fish or shrimp or crab, first lightly fried and then cooked in a light sauce of ground red chilli or ground mustard and a flavoring of panch-phoron or kal jeera. Being dryish it is often eaten with a little bit of dal pored over the rice.

JHOL : A light fish or vegetable stew seasoned with ground spices like ginger, cumin, corriander, chilli and turmeric with pieces of fish and longitudinal slices of vegetables floating in it. The gravy is thin yet extreamely flavorful. Whole green chillies are usually added at the end and green corriander leaves are used to season for extra taste.

KALIA : A very rich preparation of fish, meat or vegetables using a lot of oil and ghee with a sauce usually based on ground ginger and onion paste and garom mashla.

KOFTAS (or Boras) : Dal or Ground meat or vegetable croquettes bound together by spices and/or eggs served alone or in savory gravy.

KORMA : Another term of Urdu origin, meaning meat or chicken cooked in a mild yoghurt based sauce with ghee instead of oil.

PURA : Literally, burnt over charcoal. Vegetables are wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over a wood or charcoal fire. Some, like eggplants (brinjals/aubergines), are put directly over the flames. Before eating the roasted vegetable is mixed with mustard oil and spices.

TARKARI : A general term often used in Assam the way `curry’ is used in English. Originally from Persian, the word first meant uncooked garden vegetables. From this it was a natural extension to mean cooked vegetables or even fish and vegetables cooked together.

PITHA : Typical Assamese snack, prepared from powdered sticky rice called Bora Saul. This snack is sweet as various sweetners like sugar, jaggery, crated coconuts are added. This snack is well accompanied with a cup of refreshing Assam tea. There are different varieties of pithas like Til(Black sesame) Pitha, Ketlir mukhot diya pitha (steamed using a kettle with full of boiling water),Sunga pitha (It is cooked by stuffing the bora saul or sticky rice, whether ground or whole, into bamboo cylinders, and placing the cylinder on fire. It can be had with gur (jaggery) alone, or with doi (curd) and komal saul, another typically Assamese ready-to-eat rice; which can be soaked in water and it’s ready to eat) etc. This a common snack during the Bihu time (Assamese newyear).

For more information about assamese cooking style visit here.