There are two sure shot ways of identifying an Assamese anywhere in the world, one is their inherent hospitality and the other is their undying love for Assamese cuisine. For an outsider, the local cuisine may look quite simple. But any food enthusiast will tell you that with Assamese food, you should never make the mistake of ‘judging a book by its cover’. We may not have perfected the art of presentation yet, but we do make up for it in flavour. The use of fresh vegetables and herbs is its main USP. Moreover, Assamese dishes require very little oil, making it a great choice for the health conscious.
Yes, although it is technically more than one item, we just had to add it to the list because it includes many of our favourites. Now, different restaurants have their own variants of the same but most of them tend to include –
- Steamed Rice
- Dal, Khar
- Mixed Veg
- Aloo Pitika (Mashed Potato)
- Kharoli (Mustard Chutney)
- Kharisa (Bambooshoot Pickle)
- Soyabean Curry
- Boror Tenga (Lentil fritter in light sour curry)
Non-vegetarian thali would also comprise of your choice of meat or fish, you can also choose in indulge in duck and/or pigeon meat. Some restaurants in Guwahati that serve delicious Assamese thalis are Paradise in Silpukhuri, Khorika in Ulubari, Bor Luit in Amingaon etc.
Maas Patot Diya (Fish in Banana Leaf)
Bengalis may have perfected the art of preparing mouth-watering fish dishes, but after trying this dish, you will have to admit that the Assamese community is not too far behind either. Gam’s Delicacy restaurant in Ganeshguri serves amazing fish items including Ari Maas Patot Diya. Appetizing, moist and cooked just right, you really need to give this one a try next time you are in the vicinity. Other specialities you can try at Delicacy are Chicken/Pork with Potato, Patot Diya Small Fish and Goroi Pitika. During Bihu, Delicacy plans to put together a special menu full of items prepared in the rustic style for their visitors.
Tilot Diya Chicken (Chicken with Black Sesame)
When you talk about exceptional combinations, this tops the list. The person who first thought of grinding til and combining it in a chicken curry is a genius. Tilot Diya Chicken is one of the specialities at Maihang located in Six Mile. The best thing about this dish is that it has a subtle flavour that grows on you with every mouthful. For pork lovers, there is a variant available in pork as well. Maihang also serves other interesting pork dishes like Patot Diya Pork which is a hit among the regulars.
Maas with Outenga (Fish with Elephant Apple)
No one does a maas tenga (sour fish curry) like an Assamese! This is a favourite among many Assamese and non-Assamese food enthusiasts because the curry is just sour enough to tickle your tastebuds. Bhut Jolokia located in Zoo Road Tiniali serves a delectable Maas with Outenga. Bhut Jolokia is also a great place to grab a meal because it has a varied menu and the rates are quite decent. One thing that you must definitely try is the Black Rice Pudding; it’s the perfect way to end a perfect meal.
Chicken Bamboo Hollow
The dish is packed with loads of zest; it is especially interesting because it is prepared in a bamboo hollow over a charcoal fire which helps add a smoky flavour. Chicken Bamboo Hollow and Fish Bamboo Hollow are some of the specialities at Parampara Paradise located in Silpukhuri. Parampara Paradise has a varied menu that includes all the favourites along with some special items like Fish in Banana Leaf, Bhut Jolokia Chicken, Kordoi Sorbot (Starfruit Juice), Belor Sorbot (Stone Fruit Juice) and more. During Bihu, the restaurant also plans to serve their customers with specially made pithas and larus.
Words: Meeta Borah
Photos: Rupam Kalita