With Bihu around the corner, those residing in the capital, away from home, tend to crave home-cooked meals. But not everyone has the time or know-how to make Assamese delicacies at home which is exactly why we have reviewed two restaurants in Delhi famous for serving finger-licking Assamese items that you are surely going to love.
Jakoi is a restaurant serving Assamese cuisine in Assam Bhavan, in the plush embassy area of Chanakyapuri. You walk in to find yourself feeling at home right away, with the authentic décor and Assamese music playing in the background. The first thing that will strike you is how welcoming the staff is who will seat you comfortably. After a careful scan of the menu which has a lot of dishes to choose from, I decided on the Parampara thali. When it arrives, you will be taken aback with the number of items, ranging from sewali phulor bor, rongalau phulor bor, fried kaas kol, steamed rice, aloo pitika, khar, dal, aloo bhaji, fish curry and a chicken curry. I slowly worked my way through the plate, savouring the delicate flavour of every single item on the plate. The khar and aloo pitika will take you back to your mother’s kitchen. Jakoi does justice to Assamese cuisine, keeping up with the light texture and riveting taste. At the end of the meal, it leaves one feeling satiated but with a will to return for more.
If you would like to go à la carte, order the chicken in bamboo hollow. This is a lightly spiced mashed chicken cooked in the hollow of a bamboo stick. They also serve a similar fish dish called fish hollow. If you like it spicy, do sample the bhoot jolokia chicken. End the meal with some sweetened zarda and roasted fennel seeds or saunf. Or if you fancy paan, they can have that too. Jakoi is a must-try for a meal that will cater to all your Assamese food cravings.
Price (including taxes): Vegetarian- INR 309, Non-vegetarian- INR 366
Address: 1, Assam Bhavan, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Value for money: Excellent
If you are looking to savour an authentic Assamese thali, Gharua Exaj, a restaurant that serves Assamese cuisine in Lajpat Nagar is a must-visit. As soon as you walk into the restaurant, it will take you back to Assam, with jaapis on the wall and Bihu music playing in the background. It is not spacious but adequately furnished to settle you in for a great meal. The staff is friendly and the place is clean. The smells from the kitchen waft into the restaurant and all you want to do is, dig in to your thali.
Served on a big copper plate, the thali consists of steamed rice, yellow dal, an aloo-phoolkobi sobzi, a black dal, khar, a vegetable fry, aloo pitika and a choice of curry – chicken, duck, fish or pork. Served on the side is bamboo shoot chutney, dal chutney and some pudina chutney with the regular accompaniments, green chillies and lemon wedges. All of the items on the plate have the right balance of spice, oil and flavour and feels akin to eating at home in Assam. The aloo pitika has that hint of mustard oil which we are all familiar with and the vegetable fry is delightful – aubergine tossed in batter. If you like a nice maasor tenga, order the fish and you will not be disappointed. The chicken curry hits home with a light gravy with some potatoes in it, just like we fancy. For dessert, you are served payokh or the famous Assamese rice pudding, not too sweet and thick, it is a perfect end to the meal.
You leave Gharua Exaj feeling nicely full and chances are, you are already on the phone telling your friends about your great culinary experience.
Price: Vegetarian – Rs 230, Non-vegetarian – Rs 320
Address: D-28, Near M Cinemas, Amar Colony, Lajpat Nagar 4, New
Value for Money: Very good
By Meghna Dutta
Meghna by profession specialises as a communications consultant and is currently working with a UK based cultural communications agency. She has a great love for food, travel, books, films and dancing.
This article was first published in Eclectic Northeast (April 2017) issue