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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lip Smacking Assamese Cuisine

Recently I was in the state of Assam and was lucky to taste some of the local food there. As with any state, local food can be tasted in selected restaurants that only locals seem to know or at a native home. During this trip, my car driver, who was Assamese himself guided us to Assam’s amazing food.

My personal favourite is lye saag and young bamboo shoots in a hot steaming broth that I had along with local red glutinous rice. In fact, I liked this so much that everywhere I travelled in Assam I seemed to ask for this combination for my meals. Since lye saag was not easily available in the markets, we used to buy it straight from the farm. This combination tastes best with sliced raw onions and the famous spicy Assam green chillies. This combination is extremely healthy too. No wonder the locals, who eat this as staple food are fit as a fiddle. This same combination can be had with a non-vegetarian flavour too when the Lye Saag is replaced with mutton/chicken or river fish.

My other favourite on the vegetarian menu is the Baingan Pitika (a variant of the Baingan Bharta) where the Brinjal/Eggplant is steamed in a plantain leaf and then its outer skin is burnt on the fire. This tastes much better than the traditional Baingan Bharta. On the non-vegetarian menu, there is the fish pitika and fish tenga, both of which are hot favourites and were voted as ‘yummy’ by my non-vegetarian friends. Both the fish pitika and tenga are cooked in plantain leaves. The preparation though is slightly different.

Most of Assamese cuisine is surprising not too spicy and is cooked in mustard oil which gives it that distinct flavour and aroma. And after these lip smacking meals, you can relish the aromatic Assam tea (best tasted without milk).



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