Assamese Food

About traditional Assamese cuisine with various dishes is the cuisine of Assam. It is a style of cooking that is a confluence of cooking habits of the hills that favor fermentation and drying as forms of food preservation. and those from the plains that provide fresh vegetables and abundance of fish from its many rivers and ponds; both of which are centered on the main ingredient—rice.The confluence of varied cultural influences in the Assam Valley has led to the staggering variety and flavours in the Assamese food. It is characterised by the use of an extremely wide variety of plant as well as animal products, owing to their abundant availability in the region. It is a mixture of different indigenous styles with considerable regional variations and some external influences. The cuisine is characterized by very little use of spices, little cooking over fire and strong flavors due mainly to the use of endemic exotic fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely used, and birds like duck, squab etc. are very popular, which are often paired with a main vegetable or ingredient. Preparations are rarely elaborate mash;the practice of Bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients so common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam.[3] The preferred oil for cooking is the pungent mustard oil.
A traditional meal in Assam begins with a khar, a class of dishes named after the main ingredient, and ends with a tenga, a sour dish. These two dishes characterize a traditional meal in Assam. The food is usually served in bell metal utensils made by an indigenous community called Mariya. Tamul (betel nut, generally raw) and paan generally concludes the meal.

Though still obscure, this cuisine has seen wider notice in recent times.[4] The discovery of this cuisine in the popular media continues, with the presenters yet to settle on the language and the specific distinctiveness to describe it.
Rice is the most important ingredient in this cuisine. The large varieties of rice found in the region has led to speculation that the grain was first domesticated in the Assam- Yunnan region. Both the indica as well as the japonica varieties are grown in Assam. The most popular class of rice is the joha or scented rice. As a staple diet rice is eaten either steam boiled (ukhua) or sundried (aaroi)A special class of rice preparations, called pithas are generally made only on special occasions like the Bihu. Made usually with soaked and ground glutinous rice (bora saul), they could be fried in oil with a sesame filling (xutuli pitha), roasted in young green bamboo over a slow fire (sunga pitha) or baked and rolled over a hot plate with a filling TheFish is also prepared by roasting or char grilling. A favorite is small fish roasted in banana leaves The Assamese meat and fish dishes are characterized by low amount of spices and oil, extremely wet climate of the region and the large numbers of water bodies has ensured that large varieties of fresh water fish are available in abundance in the valley. It is a staple item in the Assamese palate. There is no traditional ethnic community in Assam that does not eat fish. Most traditional rural households have their own ponds and differ in taste from the dishes of neighbouring Bengal.The environs of Assam are rich in vegetation, and green leafy vegetables, called xaak, are an important part of the cuisine. Some of them are grown while others like the dhekia (fern) grows wild. There is a bewildering variety that is eaten and according to custom, one has to have hundred and one different xaaks (greens) during Rongali Bihu. Herbs, greens and vegetables are commonly eaten by simply cooking in water and salt, lighly frying, as a thick soup or by adding to different varieties of lentils. They are also prepared in combination with fish, meat and eggs.Among spices there are ginger, garlic, onion, cumin seed, black cumin, black pepper, chilli, turmeric, coriander seed, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, fenugreek seed, white mustard seed, aniseed, Malabar leaf, Cumin, etc. Some herbs peculiar to Assam are Maan dhaniya, Moran Ada, Madhuhulong, Bhedai lota, Manimuni, Masundari etc. An Assamese meal is incomplete without green chillies, many varieties of which are available in the region. Assam is famous for the Bhut Jolokia or Ghost Pepper which has been recognized as the hottest chilly in the world. Although modern cuisine of Assam has been influenced by east and north Indian cuisine, Assam is still rich in traditional dishes. Various types of dishes are prepared and served throughout the year.

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