How we love to have tea from Assam. This tea fetish is so overwhelming that the world has overlooked the cuisine that this North-eastern state has to offer. With mighty, the Brahmaputra and its tributaries flowing right through, Assam has the most amazing catch of fish you can find. Staple food of the state, Assamese people make fish dishes which are eclectic and so in sync with nature that you just keep being stunned by how simple ingredients are made into some lip-smacking fish curries! The next time you visit, go fishing and fry some.
Here are 20 ways the Assamese eat their fish. The dishes they serve are as unique and sweet as the people who make them.
1. Masor Tenga
If you ask the waiter what’s good in fish to try, he’ll probably suggest you Masor Tenga, Assam’s most beloved fish curry! Its sour-tangy taste with melt-in-the-mouth local fish is something worth staying hungry for. The fish is slowly cooked in a tangy tomato broth, elephant ear (outenga) and a squeeze of lemon to perfection.
2. Manimuni Narasingha Patoor Jool
Made from the river’s tastiest fish, Magur it’s a jaw dropping curry for all occasions. Magur is known to most of the people as Walking Catfish. This is a curry made using authentic assamese ingredients like Manimuni (xaak Asiatic penny-wort) and Narasinghapaat (curry leaves). Extremely healthy, it is a must try!
3. Patot Diya Xaru Maas
Not a curry for a change, this assamese fish dish is pretty fancy. Local small fishes are steamed inside a banana leaf pocket. Yes, totally desi! Sweet and tender fish are ready to be eaten straight from the leaf there after. Also, don’t get me started on its health benefits!
4. Aari Maasor Khar Jool
Now, Khar is an ingredient to know about! It’s basically made by filtering water through the ashes of a banana tree (kola khar). Aari fish (variety of cat fish) is cooked in a khar gravy. With minimal spices, it’s a simple comfort food.
5. Paanilau Maas
Ever wondered how to put bottle gourd to good use and make something yummy. Paanilau Maas is an exotic fish curry made using bottle gourd and tomatoes. Try it right away!
6. Ou Tenga Dhekia Aru Maasor Jool
With this big a dish’s name, you must think that people would rarely be eating it. But such is not the case, this is a curry most frequently had by people in Assam and is made using Ou Tenga (elephant apple) and fresh Dhekia (Fiddlehead Ferns).
7. Paleng Xaak Aru Kaoi Maas
It’s a fish curry having good amount of spinach in it, which has extremely high nutritional value and high levels of antioxidants! All the moms out there, feeding your notorious kids spinach can never be this easy again! Just fry some Kaoi fish and cook them with chopped spinach. Serve hot with rice.
8. Pura Maas Pitika
A much loved native dish, it is one of the best non-curry item you’ll get in Assam! Freshly found local fish straight from the river which are sold on streets by fisherman in big pots, are fire grilled. Barbecue lovers, listen up! These grilled fish are then mashed and chopped onions, garlic, salt, and mustard oil are added to it. Indigenously tasty, is again a must try!
9. Aadar Jaal Dia Borali Maas
Engage your taste buds for this one. It’s a spicy curry from lower Assam, especially the Barpeta district. Borali fish is cooked in a ginger gravy.Too hot to handle this dish is served over rice. Rice and Fish, a combination people can’t live without here!
10. Thekera Dia Maasor Tenga
An addition to the famous Maasor Tenga, it uses Thekera as the main souring agent in the curry. Thekera is nothing but our very own Garcinia. Assamese people sure do have a tangy tooth!
11. Xaaru Maas Bhoja
Ingredients in the least, this is again a simple, non-curry dish. Small fishes are coated with turmeric powder and salt, then stir fried with chopped onions, green chillies, garlic cloves, and chopped coriander leaves. Assamese version of Bhel, one might say!
12. Til Diya Maas
Simplest to prepare, Til aka sesame seeds are cooked with fish and transformed into a curry. A must have in winter as Til keeps your body warm from the inside. Hello comfort!
13. Xaru Maas Xaak Bhaji
Bring out all those left over leafy vegetables or the ones your kids detest, and make this delicious treat for your loved ones. The task is simple, just mix all the leafy veggies you’ve got with small, local fishes and serve this curry with steamed rice.
14. Khorisa Maas
Yes, bamboo shoots are food items used very frequently in Assam for cooking. Khorisa, is grated bamboo shoots in raw, fermented or pickled form. The fish is cooked with fermented bamboo shoots mostly so as to keep the curry fresh for a longer time. Its aroma fills the kitchen and you just can’t wait to get it inside your tummy!
15. Sungal Diya Maas
This one is my personal favourite and you’ll know why, keep reading. An entire fish is placed inside the hollow of a bamboo stem and is roasted on fire or steamed in boiling water till the fish becomes tender and the aroma of the bamboo is infused within it. Opening of the bamboo and garnishing the whole fish with lemon and green chillies adds to this dish’s theatre!
16. Maasor Petu
As weird as this dish may sound to some of you, it’s a preparation made using only the intestines of big fishes like Rohu, Catla etc. Cleaning thoroughly, the intestines are cooked with onions and local spices. Food for brave stomachs!
17. Maasor Konir Tenga
Fish eggs are the most elite group of food. Being rare, extremely nutritious and heavenly taste, are always in huge demand. Assamese people eat this rare item so frequently that others start being envious. Eggs from Rohu or Catla fish are removed and cleaned, then boiled or fried evenly, after which salt is sprinkled on top. After cooling the eggs, add Garcinia to make a sour and tangy curry.
18. Masor Koni Bhaja
A typical pool-side party dish, fish eggs are deep fried and eaten after mixing with onions, chillies, tomatoes, ginger, and local spices. A plate of quick food and totally fancy, makes the guests want to lick the plates, which they were served in!
19. Malaysian Assam Fish Curry
Inspired from Malaysian cuisine, is a tangy curry having okra in it. Commonly known as “Assam Pedas”, this curry can be made using only fish heads or tails or any other combination too. Make way for all the spice lovers!
20. Fish Fried Rice
Take a nice piece of fish and fry it in its own juices until a golden brown and crispy. Serve this fish fry with its extracted oils alongside hot coconut and lemon infused rice. The perfect kind of Biryani if you please!