Book: The Global Foods and Recipes
Author: Smita Dey - Researcher, Healthy Food and Recipes
The popularity of Indian foods lies in its diversity. Like all other countries; Indian foods are associated with their culture, geographical existence, climate, food habits and others.
Indian foods are popular and well-known all over the world. From east to west Indian restaurants and foods are available. The availability of Indian foods in most of countries is the signature of the popularity of the foods.
Religion plays a vital role in the culture of Indian foods. The culture of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jain religion influences on Indian cuisine. 20-42 percent of population is vegetarian in India. The culinary method of this percentage has a great influence on Indian cuisine.
You can find not only the influence of vegetarians’ on Indian foods but there is influence of non-vegetarians also. 30 percent of meat eaters also influence on Indian foods.
From the history, we find the Moghal Empire in India at early period. It played a vital role in Indian cuisine. From this empire India was introduced with Mughlai cuisine. Indian cuisine is also enriched with the cuisine of Europe, Middle East, Southern Agrican, East Africa, Southeast Asia, North America, Mauritius ,Fiji, Oceania, and the Caribbean. 
With the mingling of all the external and own individual influences Indian cuisine has brought itself at an individual place of popularity. Indian foods are popular now all over the world.
However, as India is a large country, the foods and food habits varies. You can find the variety of foods throughout the India. It is happened for the variety of traditional foods in various regions. The traditional foods of Indian regions depend on the climate, availability of ingredients and above all the culture of the inhabitants.
Readers, you can find the food habits and traditional foods of the various states of India in this content. As the food habits and culture of all states are different, the foods of the states are discussed here separately. All the traditional foods and foods habits of all these states represent the specific state and India as well.
Assam is a northeastern state of India. You can find the similarity of Assamese food with other north-eastern states. Like all other regions the food habits of Assam is depending on the climate and the way of living of Assamese people.
The Assamese favors the fermented and dried foods. You can find many fermented dishes and use of dried vegetables in their cuisine.
The cooking preparation in Assam is really simple. They usually avoid the practice of bhuna whereas the process is very common in Indian foods. Mustard oil is commonly used as cooking oil in Assam.
Various types of food ingredients enrich the culinary of Assam. The geographical and climate of Assam contribute on the food productions.
The most available food ingredients are the main ingredients of Assamese cuisine. Here are the main food ingredients of Assam:
Rice is the main food ingredient of Assam. Rice is inevitable with the Assamese foods and meals. It is mostly common in the three meals of Assam. Yes, it is served with different forms in different meals.
Various types of rice are produced in Assam. Bora saul ( Rice), Komal saul (Rice), Joha Saul (rice) and Karaballam rice are largely produced in Assam.
Bora saul is a type of glutinous rice. The word “Komal” means soft. The komal rice is a type of soft rice, Joha rice is a kind of scented rice usually produced in Assam. They usually prepare dessert like kheer, payes etc. with this. This rice is also used for polao preparation. Karaballam rice is a fine quality of rice and available only in Assam. Komal and bora rice are cooked in different ways for each meal.
Rice is completely associated with the foods habits of the Assamese. The presence of rice is must on the plate of Assamese meals.
The place of fish is next to rice as the food ingredient in Assam, the availability of water resource like rives, lake, ponds and wet climate enrich the fish production in Assam.
Various Types of Fish in Assam
Borali, rou, cital are popular and available as big fish. You can find khoria, magur, xingi and many others as medium sized fish. Puthi, ari, goroi and so on are available in Assam as small fish. In a word, fish is as largely produced in Assam as it is little bit difficult to mention the names of all types of fish.
The Assamese people usually prepare fish as curry. As they are not fond of ‘bhuna’ they usually make the preparation of fish stew. “Maser Jhool” (Stew of fish) is popular in Assam. Fish stew is usually cooked with vegetables and various herbs.
They also favor the preparation of fish roasting or grilling. Dried fish commonly known as “Hukoti” is very popular in Assamese cuisine. The “hukoti” preparation is usually cooked with dried small fishes like puthi fish. The usage of arum stem is very common for the preparation.
Fish preparations are usually served with rice for lunch and dinner. The variation of fish preparations in Assam is really amazing.
Meat is another integral part of Assamese meals especially in occasions. The meat recipes in Assam are different from the Bengal part of India. Low amount of spices are used for meat preparations. The use of fermented bamboo shoot, lemon juice and curry leave make a different taste and flavor of meat.
The Assamese consume Various Types of Meat
Most of tribal are fond of chicken, venison, squab, mutton, duck and pork. Some of them are restricted to take pork for religious prohibitions. The Muslims in Assam are used to intake beef occasionally.
The custom of consuming silkworm, waterbugs, grasshopper and other insects is very common in the indigenous communities of Assam. The regular process of cooking of insects are fried or roasted in leaves.
Meats are usually cooked with vegetables and herbs. The popular meat dishes are duck with white gourd and squab with papaya. ‘Onla’ is a popular complete meal among the Bodos, the tribe of Assam. Like fish preparations meat preparations are also served with rice.
Vegetables also play a vital role in Assamese cuisine. Assam is enriched with vegetable and leafy greens. The use of banana leaves and bamboo shoots are very common in the cuisine.
Types of Vegetables in Assam
Potatoes, papaya, banana, gourd and other vegetables are widely available in Assamese meals. Leafy greens, locally known as xaak is an inevitable part of Assamese food.
Vegetables Intake in Assam
Vegetables are usually cooked boiling in water and salt. Sometimes vegetables are fried lightly. Vegetables cooked with various types of lentils are very common in Assam. Vegetables are also cooked with fish and meat. You can find many popular recipes cooked with the combination of vegetables and meat or fish.
However, the cuisine of Assam is the combination of rice, fish, meat and vegetables. Omitting any one these ingredients the cuisine or food habits of Assam is incomplete.
The Assamese are habituated with three meals a day like any other part of India and other countries. The meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks are also available in Assam.
Let us see the meals of the state. You can find various popular recipes of Assam that you can try for yourself. Here are these:
Breakfast is locally know as jolpan. The word is similar with the word “Jolkhabar” of Bengal. Breakfast in Assam is a lighter meal. It is not elaborated.
The traditional jolpan include rice, pitika, chira, muri and so on. The traditional breakfast foods of Assam are various forms of rice, curd, chira, muri, and milk. The people in rural areas are habituated with these foods.
In urban areas the picture is little bit different now. The people in urban areas take roti, luchi, ghugni, paratha, bread toast, oats etc. The change is the impact of the difference between the lifestyle of urban and rural areas. However, it does not mean that the people of city area do not eat the traditional Assamese breakfast at all.
Here are some of the examples of the breakfast foods of Assam.
You already know ‘Bora Saul’ is a kind of rice. The rice is boiled and is served accompanying curd, milk and sugar. Sometimes jiggery is used in place of sugar.
Komal rice is usually consumed without cooking, The rice is soaked for a short time and then it is served with curd or milk and sugar.
Xandoh is prepared with various types of Bora Saul. After soaking the rice for three to four days, it is fried and pounded. The pounded rice is again fried in hot sand. The preparation is served with as always curd, yogurt, milk and sugar or jiggery.
The flattened rice locally known as chira is another good option of breakfast. Chira is soaked in water or milk. Chira absorbs water or any liquid element like milk very quicky. The soaked chira is served with milk or card, salt or sugar. Sometimes banana is added to add the taste.
Puffed rice or locally known as ‘muri’ is served with curd or milk and sugar or jiggery.
Pithaguri means rice flour. It is fried first and then served with hotmilk, jiggery. Ripe banana and jackfruit are also served depending on availability.
Sunga saul is very common and popular breakfast in Assam. Putting bora saul in an immature bamboo tube the preparation is made. Little water or coconut milk is added while it is putting in the tube. The tube is roasted in fire. Removing the rice, it is served with curd, hot milk, yogurt and sugar.
Roti is made with wheat atta and it is popular throughout the country. After making the dough with wheat atta a round and thin shape is made and roasted putting it on a pan. It is now a day also popular in city areas of Assam. Roti is usually served with mixed vegetables or curry.
Luchi is another preparation of wheat flour. Making round shape with flour dough luchi is fried in oil. It is served with vegetable or suji.
Suji is usually served as dessert in Assam. Suji is fried at first. It is boiled in hot water for turning into paste and sugar is added. The preparation is served with hot milk.
Pitha is an integral part of occasional breakfast in Assam. As Bihu is the main festival of the Assamese. They cannot think of the beginning of this festive morning without pitha.
The Assamese are fond of various types of pitha. These are really delicious. The popular pithas are Kachi pitha, Ghila pitha, Tekeli Pitha, Ketli Pitha, Sunga Pitha etc. All these are the part of the uniqueness of the Assamese pithas.
Bihu festival in Assam cannot get its real flavor without laru. Various types of larus are prepared in this occasion. Narikolor Laru and Tilor Laru is traditional and common laru in Assam.
Narikolor Laru is made with coconut ground and sugar cooking over low heat. After cooking the mixture a round shape is given.
Tilor laru is made with sesame seed and jaggery. Seeds are fried and mixed with liquid hot jaggery and given a round shape.
Tea is integral part of Assam. Like many other countries and nations the morning of the Assamese does not start without tea. Tea is served with the breakfast or after breakfast. They drink various types of tea like black tea, milk tea, lemon tea and spiced tea.
Breakfast is an important meal to the Assamese no matter how lighter or heavier the meal is. The good side of Assamese meal is, all these preparations are really good for health and helps the body to keep calm and functioning for next few hours.
Lunch is the heavier meal of the day in Assam. Lunch is not as simple as breakfast in Assam. It is little bit elaborated though the recipes and cooking method are simple.
As rice is the staple food in Assam, absence of rice is impossible in Assam. Rice is so associated with the food habit of Assam they cannot think completing dinner or lunch without rice.
They usually take boiled rice in lunch. Rice is accompanied with vegetables, fish or meat curry and lentils. Bamboo-shoot is also very popular in their lunch. Here are some of common and traditional lunch recipes in Assam.
The traditional food is very popular in Assam. It is difficult to have lunch in Assam excluding the dish from lunch menu. It is one of main vegetarian dish in Assam. The recipe is also prepared with non-vegetarian ingredients. Usually the main ingredient of the recipe is papaya. All the ingredients, vegetarian or non-vegetarian ingredients are boiled first. The boiled ingredient is filtered through banana leaves. This recipe is very delicious and healthy.
Pitika is very popular in Assam. Pitika means mashes of vegetables. Pitika can be prepared with various vegetables like potato, tomato, eggplant etc. Boiling or grilling vegetables, onion, green chilies, mustard oil are mixed with the mashed vegetable. Small fishes’ pitika is also very popular in Assam.
It is already mentioned the Assamese are fond of grilled or roasted food. Grilling or roasting on fire is locally known as ‘Pura’ in Assam. The popular pura dishes are ‘alu bengena pura pitika,’ ‘pura mass pitika’ and so on.
Xaak Aru Bhaji
The vegetarian dish is also very common in Assam. The Assamese eat the recipe regularly. They use seasonal herbs to prepare the recipe.
The word tenga means sour. In Assamese language fish means ‘mas’. ‘Masor Tenga’ means fish curry with sour taste. The dish is really amazing to have lunch with rice. Tomato, outenga and lemon are used to bring the sour taste of fish curry.
Narasingh Masor Jhol
Fish curry with curry leaves is known as ‘Narasingh Masor Jhol’. The recipe is cooked with limited spices. The flavor of curry leaves is the magical taste and flavor of the curry.
Duck Meat Curry
Duck is really delicious meat if you can cook it properly. The Assamese know it well. The popular Assamese’ dish is really amazing. Duck meat curry is inevitable with their special occasions. Adding of ash gourd with duck meat gives a special taste and flavor of the recipe. They also add lentils, pumpkin, sesame with duck meat. However, the taste of the Assamese duck meat curry is just mind blowing.
The Assamese lunch is really awesome. You cannot feel the real taste unless you have tried the recipes. So you can have a try with the recipes and find a new taste that you never thought.
Dinner recipes are not different from the lunch recipes. The people usually take the same recipes in their dinner time. Like lunch menu in Assam, dinner menu is not completed without the presence of rice.
Now a day, health conscious people avoid eating rice. They usually eat roti and try to have a light dinner at night. Hence, having dinner with rice combining with curries or other recipes are very common in Assam.
It is better for you to have an idea of Assamese foods if you are thinking to visit the state. You can also try these foods while you are bored with your regular diet. I am sure, you can find your taste back.
The Assamese foods do not represent only the food habits of Assam. These also represent their culture, climate and others as foods are related with all of these.
The Assamese foods take a place in Indian foods as a number of people in India are habituated with these. So, it is helpful to know about the foods in Assam for the people who are interested to know about the foods in India.