Assam Diaries: Glimpses of The Brahmaputra

Assam, a northeastern state of India, is incomplete without the river Brahmaputra. It is the lifeline that has shaped the human civilization in this part of the world since time immemorial. 

The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam. It has been shaping the geographical as well as the geological profile of the state, as well the backbone of Assamese Civilisation. Although the Assamese people claimed it to be their own and worship it, the river solely does not belong to this northeastern state of India. It is, in fact, a truly international river. With a drainage area of 580000 square km, the river crosses 2880 km from its source Chema Yung Dung to its mouth in the Bay of Bengal. The river, known as Tsangpo in Tibet, flows 1625 km over the Tibetan plateau, then enters a narrow deep gorge at Pe (3500m from MSL) and then continues its journey southwards across the east-west ranges of Himalayas before entering the Assam Plain. The two rivers Dibang and Lohit join the river in Arunachal Pradesh, India and hereafter it is known as the Brahmaputra. The river traverses 918 km in India and rests 337 km in Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal through a joint channel with the Ganga.

It holds a special place in Hindu mythology where it is regarded as the son of Brahma, the creator of the universe and Lady Amogha. It is also said that Parshuram, the incarnation of Vishnu, the nurture of the universe, committed matricide and the sin was so terrible that the ax he used was stuck to his hand. He visited many holy places but the ax came off once he washed his hands in the Brahmaputra. Relieved, he cut one side of the mountains that were guarding the river to help the locale.

The whole riverside is a cradle of different tribes and various cultures. The Ahoms settled on its banks and reigned for 600 years. Various tribes like Mising, Bodo, Karbi, Chutiya, Moran, Motok, Dimasa, Garo, Rabha, Hajong, Tais and several tribes have built their homes centering the Brahmaputra valley. The banks of the river are picturesque and full of natural and cultural heritage. 

Glimpses of the Brahmaputra

Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Brahmaputra

Natural Heritage of the Brahmaputra

  • The Brahmaputra is home to the world’s largest and the smallest river islands.
  • It is 2880 km long and it is the fourth longest river in the world.
  • It has its origin in Chemayungdung mountain ranges,  southeast of Mansarovar lake in the MountKailash range in Southern Tibet and ends in Bangladesh at the Bay of Bengal.
  • The Brahmaputra has world’s deepest gorge in the Namcha Barwa range, also known as Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.
  • The Brahmaputra has a drainage area is 580000 km².
  • It has more than thousands of tributaries and sub-tributaries in both the banks.
  • The river has numerous wetlands along its course which is home to precious wildlife.

Cultural Heritage of the Brahmaputra

  • The banks of the Brahmaputra is home to numerous indigenous tribes.
  • There are thousands of towns, cities, villages and hamlets along its course.
  • The largest river island in the river, Majuli is home to Assam’s Sattriya culture.
  • The smallest river island of the river, Umananda or the Peacock island is home to Shaktism with a Shiva temple.
  • Kamakhya, the center of tantrism of India is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra.
  • Saraighat, the battlefield where the Ahoms defeated the mighty Mughals, is situated on the southern bank of the river.
  • Biswanath ghat or Guptakashi is situated on the northern bank of the river.
  • The fertile alluvium soil of the river has made the Brahmaputra valley of the major tea producing regions in the world.

 

Here are some of the glimpses of the pristine beauty of the river Brahmaputra

The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam.

The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam.

The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam. The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam. The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam.

 

The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam. Sunset at the Brahmaputra

If you want to know more about the history of the Brahmaputra, click here.

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander-Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven

Let me admit, I devour fishes. Some may say that they do not like the smell but for me, it is the most appetizing smell when someone is frying fishes. I just love them. But when it comes to my favorite fish recipe, nothing can beat this awesome fish in the coriander-mustard sauce recipe. It is an easy to cook recipe and does not involve much time. As half of the recipe’s work can be done ahead and can be kept in the freezer, this can be a suitable meal in busy weekdays. And the recipe is suitable for microwave cooking and that means you can set it in the oven and take a power nap before the dinner or can cook it while you are setting up the dining table. Here is a recipe for busy moms and dads who want to cook something special for their families in busy days. A simple recipe to cook fish with coriander & mustard sauce in the microwave oven.

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven

Fish with Coriander-Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven

The recipe is easy and can be cooked with any fish. I, however, have used chitol fish in this particular dish. Chitol or Indian Featherback/ Clown Knifefish (Chitala chitala) is a native fish species to South East Asia and easily available in Ganga and Brahmaputra river basins. The fish is full of thorns but its flavour is so good that chitol is considered a delicacy in both India and Bangladesh. This fish is full of vital vitamins and minerals. 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven

While preparing the sauce, I have used both coriander and long corianders to intensify the fragrance. The sauce can be made in batches and kept in freezer, so you need not to worry about your time every time you want to have this delicious fish recipe. 

Pictorial Guide to Cook Fish with Coriander-Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Ingredients of Fish with Coriander-Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Pour raw mustard oil in a microwave bowl

 

Put the mustard paste over it

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Put the fishes over the first layer

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Add the coriander paste over the fishes

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Pour water until the fishes submerge

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Put it into the microwave oven for 8 minutes on high

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander- Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Fish with coriander-mustard sauce is ready!

 

Assamese Recipe: Fish with Coriander-Mustard Sauce in Microwave Oven
Serves 4
A delicious and easy to cook fish recipe
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. Fish of your choice, cut and cleaned.
  2. 50 grams Coriander leaves with stems.
  3. 10-12 small cloves of garlic.
  4. 1 small onion, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons of mustard paste.
  6. Green chilies (optional)
  7. 2 tablespoons raw mustard oil.
  8. Salt according to taste.
  9. Water
Instructions
  1. Fry the fishes in mustard oil with little salt and a pinch of turmeric.
  2. Make paste of coriander leaves, garlics, onions and chilies.
  3. Now, take a microwave compatible bowl and pour the two tablespoons of mustard oil.
  4. Add the musatrd paste covering every inch of the bowl.
  5. Add the fishes.
  6. Now cover the fishes with the coriander paste.
  7. Add water till the fishes submerge and salt according to your taste.
  8. Cook it in a microwave at high for 8 minutes.
  9. Adjust the salt and serve hot.
Notes
  1. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves!
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Foodie On The Road http://foodieontheroad.com/

 

 

A Trip to Manas National Park!

Manas National Park has always been our family’s first love. After all, I met my better half here and we spent three long years after our marriage near the park. Though we bade adieu to Barpeta Road, the nearest transit town to Manas but we never said farewell to Manas. Instead, we carried it with us. In our heart. Eventually, Neel, my son came and the return to the park was postponed for several times. Though we traveled and visited other places, our hearts longed to visit Manas. We chatted with each other, hubby and I and sighed to show the places at Manas to our son, who is equally enthusiastic for road trips and vacations. 

 

Manas National Park

 

Finally, the first week of March gave us the much-needed trip to Manas. All three of us were excited about it and the whole journey was filled with laughter and squeals about the destination. We took jungle safari, spotted lots of wildlife, mingled with fringe villagers, and spent our time with the river generously. Neel played with the river while my better half introduced him to it and the jungle. After all, we never left Manas, we carry it in every day of our life. 

As the day we spent in Manas was a rainy one, peacocks were everywhere, waiting for the mates. We spotted swamp deer, sambar, wild elephants, wild buffalos, and rhinos. But the stars of the day were the birds. Hundreds of birds too graced us with their presences. If you want to visit this amazing place, here is the needed information.

Where is Manas National Park?

Manas National Park, situated in the Himalayan foothills near the Indian-Bhutan border, is a World Heritage Site. As they say in Manas, if you want to explore the wild, come here! Crowned with as many as five conservation statuses, Manas is home to  61 species of mammals, 354 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibian, 79 species of fish and more than 187 species of butterfly and 100 species of invertebrates. It has more than 600 species from plant kingdom making it one of the suitable habitat of wildlife wonders.

The park boasts of having the largest number of Scheduled-I species than any other Protected Areas (PAs) in India. It is home to 21 species of mammals which are highly endangered. Among these 21 species, 3 are restricted to only Manas and its immediate locality. They are Golden Languor, Pygmy Hog, and Hispid hare, which are exclusively endemic to the Manas National Park. All three animals are also included in the critically endangered list of the IUCN Red Data Book. World’s 80% of endangered Bengal Florican resides at Manas. It is also home to Wild Buffalos and Asiatic Elephants, Assam Roof Turtle etc.

The park is divided into three main ranges and several bits for monitoring and protection. The main ranges are… Bahbari (central range), Panbaari (western range) and Bhuyapara (eastern range).

 

How to Reach Manas National Park?

Manas is best reached by roadways and railways. It is situated 176 KM far from Assam’s capital city, Guwahati. Well connected by roads and railways, the nearest transit town and railway station is Barpeta Road. Barpeta Road also has the Field Director’s office, Manas National Park. The central range of Manas National Park, Bahbari is situated 22 KM away from Barpeta Road. The nearest airport is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Borjhar, Guwahati.

What is the Best Time to Visit Manas National Park?

The best time to visit Manas National Park is from October to April.

Manas National Park

Accommodation and Safari cost at Manas National Park

There are several private as well as Govt resorts at Bahbari and Bhuyapara ranges where you can stay and take a safari to Manas National Park. The packages start from 3,500 Indian Rupees. 

If you want to know tidbit of life at Manas National Park, here is a blog that documents everything about this destination by my better half.

What to see at Manas National Park

Manas is home to 61 species of mammals, 354 species of birds, 42 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibian, 79 species of fish and more than 187 species of butterfly and 100 species of invertebrates. It has more than 600 species from plant kingdom making it one of the suitable habitat of wildlife wonders.
The park boasts to have the largest number of Scheduled-I species than any other Protected Areas (PAs) in India. It is home to 21 species of mammals which are highly endangered. Among these 21 species, 3 are restricted to only Manas and its immediate locality. They are Golden Languor, Pygmy Hog and Hispid hare, which are exclusively endemic to the Manas National Park. All three animals are also included in the critically endangered list of the IUCN Red Data Book. World’s 80% of endangered Bengal Florican resides at Manas. It is also home to Wild Buffalos and Asiatic Elephants, Assam Roof Turtle etc.
You can do-
1. Jungle Safari
2. River Rafting
3. Village tracking
4. Enjoy Traditional Dance
5. Relish Traditional Food
6. Enjoy Assam Tea and many more…..
 
Contact number

Head Quarter Beat at Barpeta Road for Tourism Contact
Mr. Kripa Nath Forester-I
Phone number-+91 73998 62555 

Culinary Past of Cauliflower and the Assamese Recipe for Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry

The beauty of Assamese Cuisine lies in its simplicity. It uses minimal ingredients which are available in the season. These seasonal produces along with freshwater fishes make any Assamese dish delicious and full of health benefits. Take any vegetable which is available in the season and we Assamese will give you a fish curry. Typically, Assamese fish curry is not similar to other Indian fish curries which are often loaded with spices. Instead, we love to use the flavor of the used vegetable to bring out the taste of the fish. As a result, the curry is flavorful yet light on your stomach. Such a curry is potato cauliflower fish curry where every flavor is distinct yet they mingled to give you a delicious treat. 

Culinary past of Cauliflower and Assamese Recipe for Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry

 

Today’s recipe of potato-cauliflower fish curry is a common dish cooked during winters. As in Assam, the most flavourful cauliflowers are available only in winters, the potato-cauliflower fish curry is a must have item in winters. Of course, with the advent of supermarkets, you can have the vegetable now round the year but no one can beat the taste and flavor of a seasonal vegetable in its original season. 

Cauliflower is known to reduce the risk of lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder cancers. Recent research from the University of Hawaii reveals that it also provides important cardiovascular benefits.

Cauliflower is also a common produce of the kitchen gardens at every Assamese household during winters. My mother in law, who is a DIY diva, grown a huge batch of cauliflowers in her kitchen garden and as usual, when we went home for holidays, she supplied us the best cauliflowers in the town. After all, how can you get such a vegetable here in this concrete jungle of Guwahati?

But before going to the recipe, have you wondered about this beautiful vegetable once in your life? I mean, yes, we have been eating it since time immemorial but do you know the vegetable is not a native to India? My, my..now that’s a news! Isn’t it?

Culinary Past of Cauliflowers

Assamese Recipe for Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry

 

Cauliflowers are one of the most important winter vegetables in India. However, it is not native to India. Instead, the vegetable was introduced in India in 1822 only. It was a British import but unlike their importers, the vegetable refused to live Indian soil and mingled in Indian cuisine.

Cauliflower, one of the several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea, has its origin in Cyprus. The first mention of cauliflower can be found in the writings of Pliny in the 1st century of the last millennium in his book Natural History. Next mention of the vegetable was in the 12th century in the writings of Arab Botanists Ibn al-Awwam and Ibn al-Baiter where they described its cultivation in Cyprus for more than 1000 years. It was introduced in Spain, Italy and then in France by the Arab merchants via Syria. (Source) Le Cuisinier françois (1651), one of the most influential cookbooks in early modern French cuisine, written by François Pierre La Varenne has the mention of cauliflower as chouxfleurs. The book that broke the monotony of Italian cuisine in France created such a sensation that cauliflower was immediately hailed as one of the most important vegetables on the royal palates. Cauliflower, along with the cookbook, revolutionized Medieval French Cuisine paving the path for the modern French cuisine. King Louis XIV took so much interest in this particular vegetable that his royal banquets were incomplete without a particular dish presenting cauliflowers in a rich sauce made with veal, ham, and cream, or as part of a stew of sweetbreads, mushrooms and foie grass, as reported by Menon, a food writer from 18th century.

Culinary past of Cauliflower and Assamese Recipe for Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry

In North America, this vegetable was introduced in the 16th century when immigrants from Europe flocked the country. Cauliflowers were a mere kitchen garden commodity in North America and although it was mentioned in American writings as early as the 1800s, it was only in the 1920s that the cauliflower was commercially cultivated.

The vegetable conquered the whole Europe and finally along with the British came to dominate the British Kingdom along with the Britons. It was the early 19th century when cauliflowers came to India as mere seeds with British farmers so that the officers had the convenience to eat this delicacy while ruling India. The imported seeds were first sown in the Company Bagh in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh under the supervision of Dr. Jemson, the then in-charge of the bagh. As in Britain, the crops are produced during May to July, the first sowing of the seeds of cauliflowers happened according to it. But as India is a tropical country and differs from Britain in geographical and climatic conditions, the result was devastating. The initial failures didn’t deter the company farmers from trying and they thought to adapt some introduced varieties for early production during warmer and humid conditions in the country. They experimented with the harvest season too and altered the sowing time to November- December when India has the colder season is needed to grow the best cauliflowers. This experiment resulted in success and soon the Indians too adapted the vegetable for its delicacy. Now the cauliflowers grown in India, typically known as Indian cauliflower, are different from cauliflowers grown in Europe. They are tolerant relatively hot and humid climate and mature very easily.

Assamese Recipe for Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry

Assamese recipe for potato cauliflower fish curry is easy to make. It doesn’t involve any spice except onions. You can add half a teaspoon of ginger paste but that is optional. Every vegetable used in the curry retains its flavors yet they give you a delicious treat by complimenting each other with the sweetness of fish. I have used tomatoes also in this dish but you can skip it altogether. 

 

 

Assamese Recipe of Potato Cauliflower Fish Curry
A delicious and light currry cooked with chunks of potato, florets of cauliflower and freshwater fishes. Goes excellent with plain rice.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  2. 2 potatoes cut into for halves
  3. 1 tomato cut into small pieces
  4. 4 pieces of any fish of your choice. (I used rohu fish here)
  5. 1 medium size onion cut into thin slices
  6. Green chillies (optional)
  7. Mustard oil
  8. Salt and turmeric powder
Instructions
  1. Fry the fishes and keep aside.
  2. Now add the onions in the same oil till they turn golden and soft.
  3. Add the cut vegetables, salt and turmeric and sauté for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Cover the wok with lid for 2 minutes.
  5. Sauté for another 3 minutes and again cover it for 2 minutes.
  6. Repeat the process unless the vegetables are 3/4th cooked.
  7. Now add two glasses of water and fishes.
  8. Let the mix boil and cover with lid.
  9. Once the vegetables are fully cooked and the gravy thickens slightly, your curry is ready.
  10. Adjust the salt and garnish with coriander leaves.
Notes
  1. You can add half a teaspoon of ginger paste for extra flavor.
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Foodie On The Road http://foodieontheroad.com/

The Path of Colours: Rongali, Showcase of A Destination Named Assam

 Assam, a state in India’s northeast part is an unexplored paradise. The state is home to 80% of endangered Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros, Bengal Florican, Golden langur and much more such beautiful creatures. It is the only place where pygmy hog survives in the world. The tea that refreshes you every morning may have come from my state Assam as it produces 1/6th of the total tea cultivation in the world. We have the largest inhabited river island, Majuli and we are the proud group of people who has never bowed down to Mughal invasion. If we have the golden silk, Eri, Pat and Muga, we also have our Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park. We have the only dynasty in India that has ruled the region for 600 years without any break. We have the Brahmaputra, the 4th longest river in the world and we have Jatinga too. We have our Bhupen Hazarika and Kamakhya temple, the adobe of tantric Hinduism. We speak the modern Indian language which has the first Ramayana, translated into any modern Indian language. We are proud people with our own culture, festivals, and culinary tradition. We have more than 50 tribes that have agglomerated to make us the Bor Axom, The Greater Assamese Society. Each tribe has their own language, culture, deities, food habits and tradition but the thread that binds us is our language and the love we share with us.

But in spite of so much potentiality, Assam is one of the least explored destinations in India. Most of the tourists which come here go either to Kaziranga/Manas National Park or visit Kamakhya temple. But Assam is more than just two national parks and a temple. It is a place where you can go for angling tourism, culinary tourism, rural tourism, tea tourism, community tourism, river tourism and the list goes on. Unfortunately, three decades of political unrest has turned the grapes sour for our infrastructure and investment. But as the new millennium has turned 17 years old, things have changed for us. Entrepreneurs are coming forward and they are boosting our infrastructure too. Take ShyamKanu Mahanta, the prominent entrepreneur and the work he is doing for our state. He has single handily started the movement to popularize our culture in front of the world so that people can know what is going on in this part of the world. After the successful introduction of Shankardeva Movement and North East Festival in national circuit, he came with the idea to promote Assam as a tourist destination. His dream came true in the shape of Rongali: Destination| Culture| Harmony.

Rongali is the biggest event in the history of Assam that is organized to promote our culture and Assam as a destination. It is a one-stop event where you can witness Assam at its best. It showcases culture, traditions, and food of various ethnic groups of Assam. The festival is the bridge that connects you with some unexplored parts of Assam as a tourist destination.

This year, the third edition of Rongali was grander than its previous editions with more participants and more crowds. With provisions for aero sports, traditional boat race of Assam and a food challenge to promote traditional Assamese food, Rongali was at its best. Let’s have a look at the official trailer of Rongali, 2017

The major attractions of Rongali Festival, 2017, Assam

  • Showcase of the culture of various ethnic tribes of Assam
  • Live performance of various ethnic dance forms
  • Live Ankia Bhaona, the unique drama form of Assam.
  • Aero sports at the Brahmaputra river front.
  • Traditional sports of Assam
  • Display of mukha, the traditional masks from Majuli.
  • Traditional boat race at Digholipukhuri.
  • Traditional Assamese food challenge.
  • Musical events featuring the top DJs, rock bands and singers of India

Here are some of the snapshots of Rongali, 2017. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. So, let go through this one-of-its-kind experience called the Rongali, 2017 with some awesome snaps.

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Traditional Assamese Food Challenge at Rongali Festival, 2017, Assam

This year’s Rongali gave me so much to behold. As my regular readers know that I am on a mission to trace my culinary routes and preserve Assamese recipes. And when a place offers you to give glimpse of traditional Assamese food, you cannot miss the opportunity for life! Priyobandhu, a Guwahati-based social welfare society, has come up with the idea to throw a traditional Assamese food challenge where food enthusiasts showcased their culinary skills. The food challenge has three segments which showcased three different aspects of Assamese cuisine. Those segments were Traditional Assamese Sweet Dishes, Traditional Assamese Vegetarian Dishes, and Traditional Assamese NonVegetarian Dishes. The food challenge saw some of the most exquisite Assamese dishes which are often neglected.

According to Archie Borthakur, the chief functionary of Priyobandhu said, “The food challenge is an attempt to bring out the traditional foods of Assam. Recently, we have seen so much fusion of Assamese food which is slowly destroying our culinary traditions. Assamese food is always easy to cook and very healthy. This challenge is an attempt to popularize traditional Assamese recipes among masses and encourage the tourist to try our food.” The challenge was successful in terms of encouraging culinary connoisseurs to bring their best dishes and showcase them in front of an equally enthusiastic crowd. Some of the dishes that made to the food challenge are less known food like naangol dhoa pitha, jeng pitha, mogu dailor bor di thekera tenga, rongalau aru poka teteli di boralir jhol, bhedailotar aanja magur mas di, sandoh r logot hah koni bhoja, posola diya murgi mangsho, various tribal dishes and much more. The food challenge was a treat to foodies who had the fun to try various dishes that signifies Assamese Cuisine.

The food challenge also gave away to discussions among the food critics and enthusiasts about Assamese cuisine and how we can popularize it in front of the world. I love listening people talking about their food and it gave me immense pleasure as a food curator/blogger to learn new dishes from the foodies. Let’s have a look at those culinary wonders!

Axomiya Payokh: Treat Your Valentine the Assamese Way This Year!

Ah! It is that time of the year when you can literally experience peaks of love everywhere. February is the month when you eagerly plan something special for your valentine, be it your husband/boyfriend/partner, children, friends or parents. So why not treat your valentine in the Assamese way this year? We all love to eat and share recipes and to try new cuisines. Surprise your loved ones with the Assamese recipe of Axomiya Payokh, a milk+rice pudding. The dish is healthy, easy and can be perfect as a dessert for your Valentine’s Day Party.

Axomiya Payokh: Treat Your Valentine the Assamese Way This Year!

Memories related with Axomiya payokh

There was a time when our birthdays meant luchi (Indian puffed bread) and payokh. The piping hot luchis accompanied by mildly sweet payokh was a must have combo for most of the parties in our childhood. Payokh held a great place in the culinary tradition of Assam. You arrange dinner for someone, cook payokh as desert, you are having some religious rituals, cook payokh and distributed among the devotees. Payokh is a dish that is held very high in our households.

I still remember when ma used to cook payokh during our childhood. My mother is an excellent cook and once she started cooking it, the aroma used to fill the house. As we came back from schools in the afternoon, one step inside our alley and our nose would tell that ma is cooking payokh for us. In the cold afternoons, it was a comfort smell and we would eagerly wait for ma to finish her cooking. One scoop of the payokh with piping hot luchis and our hungry tummies would sing the songs of summer. Now I cook payokh regularly but I would never be able to create that magic like ma. I think it was love that made those payokh special! 

Axomiya Payokh: Treat Your Valentine the Assamese Way This Year!

How to cook Axomiya Payokh

Though the payokh is easy to make and use minimal ingredients, it involves slow cooking and hence takes a lot of time. It is advisable to cook it beforehand to avoid the last minute rush. As I said, this is a dish which has to be cooked with much love and care. The dish can be made in large batches and can be refrigerated for two days. 

Axomiya Payokh needs only 4 ingredients to be specific, milk, rice, sugar and cardamom seeds. The dish is made by continuously stirring the milk with rice. Generally, Joha rice, an aromatic, indigenous rice found in Assam is used to make payokh but you can use any small grain rice for it. 

Ingredients of Axomiya Payokh

 

Here is the recipe for Axomiya Payokh. Let your loved ones taste something that speaks of love, only love!

 

Axomiya Payokh: The Perfect Valentine's Day Dessert
Serves 5
A perfect dessert to be cooked with love
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 litre full cream milk
  2. 1/2 litre water
  3. A handful of Joha or any small grain rice
  4. 1/2 cup regular sugar
  5. 2 large cardamoms
  6. Dry fruits for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Pour the milk and water in a deep based vessel.
  2. Bring it to boil.
  3. Once the milk+water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer.
  4. After 10 minutes, add the rice and stir continuously.
  5. Once the milk reduced to half, add the sugar and cardamoms and stir continuously.
  6. Cook till the rice is totally mixed with the milk and thickens like custard.
  7. Once done, garnish with dry fruits of your choice.
Notes
  1. The process takes one and half hour to two hours to make the perfect payokh. Stir continuously after every five minutes so that the rice doesnot stick to the botttom.
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Foodie On The Road http://foodieontheroad.com/

Kolakhar: Saga of Well-Being | Health Benefits of Banana Trees

Assamese Cuisine totally depends upon the ingredients that are available in our surroundings and hence totally nature-dependent. Assamese recipes are harmonized with seasonal produces and often include dishes that help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of such natural produce is the banana tree. The banana tree is an integral part of Assamese culture and cuisine. No Assamese rituals are complete without banana leaves. Assamese people have always known the health benefits of banana tree parts and we have been using them extensively.

Assamese rural life is unimaginable without banana trees. Almost every household has a koloni/kolbari or banana garden where different types of bananas are planted and nurtured. Forget the health benefits of a banana tree, bananas are a good source of income. Mere 10-12 banana trees can give you good money if you can treat them well. There is an Assamese saying that goes,

তিনিশ ষাঠীজোপা ৰুবা কল,
মাহেকে পষেকে চিকুনাবা তল ।
পাত পছলা লাভত পাবা,
লংকাৰ বনিজ ঘৰতে পাবা ।।

Which means, Plant 360 banana trees and nurture them at every fortnight: You will get the whole chest full of gold at home along with banana leaves and posola for free.

Banana leaves are used in community feasts in villages in lieu of disposable plates which makes us Assamese very eco-friendly and sustainable with nature. It is interesting to note that not a single part of a banana tree is discarded in Assam. From its flowers to roots, everything of banana trees is beneficial to human body. Let’s take a look at various usages of Banana tree parts.

Health Benefits of Banana Trees

Health Benefits of Banana Tree Parts

Banana flowers

Banana flowers are called koldil in Assamese. They are a good source of iron and calcium. The tender flowers are often cooked as fries or in a potato-lentil based gravy. It can also be eaten as fritters.

Banana stems

Banana stems are called posola in Assamese and they are one of the most popular delicacies of Assamese Cuisine. It is cooked as gravy with or without small fishes. You can also make a posolar khar with it. The health benefit of banana stems is that it removes excess uric acid from our bodies and maintains it at a normal level.

Banana fruits

Banana fruits are one of the most favorite fruits in the world. Assam houses many indigenous species of banana which yields tasty fruits. Some of the local species of bananas which are found in Assam are maalbhog, baratmoni, ketekikhunda, manohar, jurmoni, aathiya kol, Seni Champa, jahaji etc. Bananas are full of antioxidants, nutrients like potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, protein, carbohydrates, water, vitamins etc. Bananas help to moderate blood sugar level, improve digestive health and help to lose weight.

Banana leaves

As I mentioned earlier, Assamese people often use banana leaves to eat meals. Banana leaves contain chlorophyll and the food consumed on it helps to mend any internal damage of our digestive system. It can also be used as first aid if you cut somewhere. Just make a paste of banana leaves and treat your cut with it. Assamese cuisine use banana leaves extensively to make dishes called patot diya. It is a method of cooking where you cook fish/vegetables wrapped in banana leaves.

Health Benefits of Banana Trees

Khar

Kalakhar or Khar is one of the unique things that truly signify Assamese Cuisine. Kharkhowa Axomiya, as we fondly call ourselves, means Khar eating Assamese. Khar is produced from the ashes of burnt banana stems or banana peels of aathiya kol (M. Balbisiana).

The procedure to make khar

Kolakhar making process is very traditional. The first step of making khar involves collection of a matured and healthy tree of aathiya kol. It is then cut into pieces and sun dried for 10-15 days. After complete drying, the pieces were burned into ashes and sieved. After collecting the ashes, pure water is filtered through it. The modified water is called khar.

Health Benefits of kolakhar

Khar is used as food additive in Assamese cuisine widely. Various vegetables are cooked using khar which marks the first dish of an Assamese thali. It is known to cleanse your stomach curing digestive disorders. Use of kolakhar as soaps and detergent for washing clothes and hair is a well-known practice in villages. Kolalhar is traditionally used by farmers to kill leaches and cure as well as prevent certain cattle diseases.

 

The Health Benefit of Sesame Seeds and A Quick Recipe with Fish

Sesame seeds are one of the most used oilseeds in human history. It is been in use since last 3000 years as history indicates. Sesame is believed to be originated in India and spread to other parts of the world.  

Sesame is a flowering plant doesn’t grow taller than 2-3 feet. The flower is white in color and very pretty. The seeds are oval in shape and can be of black, gray, red, golden and brown in color. The seeds have highest oil content than any other oilseeds known to men.

Sesame seeds, locally known as til is widely used in Assamese cuisine. We make sweets out of it, use it as the savoury item, in curries and even use it in our beauty regime. In my in law’s place, they cultivate sesame yearly and hence we get a regular supply of this black wonders every season. Sesame seeds are good for your health. Let’s have a look at the health benefits of sesame seeds.

Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds

The Health Benefit of Sesame Seeds and A Quick Recipe with Fish

 

Good source of energy

Sesame seeds have a high amount of calories in it. For a 100 g, these seeds contain about 573 calories. A good snack for the after-gym session to maintain the energy level.

Loaded with nutrition

Sesame seeds are full of goodness. A 100g of sesame seeds contain 60 mg of calcium, 345 mg of magnesium, 667 mg of phosphorus and 370 mg of potassium.

Good source of unsaturated fats

Unsaturated fats are good for both growing children and adults alike. Sesame seeds are a good source of unsaturated fats without any harmful effects.

Excellent food to keep the body warm

Sesame seeds are harvested during winters here in India and stored for the entire year. It also helps in keeping the body warm during winters. That is why sesame are eaten in abundance during the winter months.

Fish with Sesame seeds

As mentioned above, Assamese cuisine involves sesame seeds in different ways. Magh Bihu, our annual harvest festival involves a plethora of sesame seeds based foods. Til pitha, tilor laru, mah korai, korai guri, tilor chutney, aloo-tilor pitika… the list is endless. These foods help to keep warm in those cold days before and after Makar Sankranti.

Every year, while preparing for Magh Bihu, we process a good amount of sesame seeds. While most of it is used during the festival, a large amount remained unused. These seeds are used to make other dishes, both sweet and savory in nature to keep our taste buds satiated. Here is a simple and quick but healthy recipe of sesame seeds cooked with fish.

The recipe is very easy to cook and can be made within 30 minutes. It is loaded with all the goodness of sesame seeds and fishes and wonderful food for cold wintery nights. Here is a detailed recipe with step by step with pictures.

Fish with Sesame Seeds (Perfect dish for winter nights)

 

The Health Benefit of Sesame Seeds and A Quick Recipe with Fish
                                                                   Grounded Sesame Seeds Powder
The Health Benefit of Sesame Seeds and A Quick Recipe with Fish
Add the sesame powder into the oil+spices mix

                                       

                Fry the powder for 1-2 minutes before adding water
Fish with Sesame Seeds
                                                                   Fish with Sesame Seeds

                             

Fish with Sesame Seeds
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup Sesame seeds, grounded to fine powder
  2. 1 Onion
  3. 5 garlic pods
  4. ½ inch of garlic
  5. 4 pieces of fish (of your own choice)
  6. Mustard oil, salt and turmeric powder according to taste
  7. Green chillies (optional)
Instructions
  1. Roast the sesame seeds and make coarse powder.
  2. Make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger and chillies.
  3. Heat oil in wok or kadahi.
  4. Fry the fishes and keep aside.
  5. Now add the onion-garlic-ginger paste in the same oil and fry till the oil seperates from the masala.
  6. Add the sesame seeds powder, salt and turmeric powder and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add 1 and half glasses of water and bring it boil.
  8. Now add the fishes and cook for 10 minutes approximately in full heat.
  9. As you get the desired thickness of the curry, adjust the salt and garnish with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve hot with plain rice and daal fry.
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Adapted from Assamese Cuisine
Foodie On The Road http://foodieontheroad.com/

How to Cook Simple Vegetable Pulao in Pressure Cooker

The first cookbook that I have ever read is the Hawkins cookbook. Ok, it’s not a regular cookbook with fancy pictures but just the user’s manual for Hawkins pressure cooker with some Indian and continental recipes. Every household in my place owns more than one pressure cooker. It seems that our kitchens are incomplete without them. And the brand that I have only seen is Hawkins. You need to cook rice, put in a pressure cooker, you need to cook lentils or eggs or steam vegetables, put it into a pressure cooker. And every cooker from Hawkins comes with the mandatory users’manual with some easy to cook recipes. These one pot meal recipes were taken from different parts of India and abroad. They also provided a list of spices and food terms and it was my handy companion to know what people are cooking. Well, I came to know the difference between soup and stew from Hawkins users’ manual only otherwise, where else a teenager girl from an almost village-like town can learn about continental food?

To say that I loved the manual will not be sufficient. I adored the manual. It was my door to the world where the same ingredients were described to be cooked in various cuisines. It was my first encounter with the world of food and it intrigued me to learn more about the food. Our food shows were limited to a one-hour weekly program of Tara Dalal at that time and I used to stare at the cover of the manual to learn how they decorate the food. I still remember to insist my mother cook from any recipe just like the manual had.

The first thing that I loved about the recipes in Hawkins manual is that the instructions were given to cook food in the pressure cooker as well. Till now, I remain sucker of quick and one pot meal recipes. That manual taught me to cook so many dishes that I have lost its count. I can still imagine me going through pages after pages to read more and more about cuisines from other parts of the world.

How to Cook Simple Vegetable Pulao in Pressure Cooker

When I learned to cook, the first thing that I tried from the Hawkins manual was pulao. Pulao is an Indian dish which is basically herb and spice infused rice on your plate. Depending on the availability, the ingredients of the pulao can be varied from one dish to another.

Although you can cook any pulao in your Hawkins pressure cooker, I prefer to cook vegetarian pulao in it. It takes hardly 7 minutes to cook veg pulao in a pressure cooker. Here is the recipe that I use to cook pulao in cooker. This pulao can be eaten with any curry of your choice. It is a wholesome meal and comes quite handy when you are tired or busy to cook a full meal.

 

Simple Vegetable Pulao in Pressure Cooker
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup basmati rice
  2. Whole spices
  3. Two large size onions
  4. 1 teaspoon of ginger-garlic paste
  5. Vegetables of your choice, diced and cubed
  6. Ghee/oil, and salt
Instructions
  1. Wash and soak the rice for atleast 30 miutes.
  2. Now heat ghee in pressure cooker.
  3. Temper the oil with whole spices.
  4. Now fry the onions (cut into thin slices) till they turn soft.
  5. Add the vegetables, salt and ginger garlic paste and saute till the masals leave their raw smell.
  6. Add the rice and stir well.
  7. Add required water and close the lid of the cooker.
  8. Bring it to full pressure and keep for five minutes.
  9. Now switch off the heat and release the steam.
  10. Your pulao is ready in no time.
Notes
  1. You can add dry fruits along with the vegetables.
Adapted from Hawkins Pressure Cooker Manual
Adapted from Hawkins Pressure Cooker Manual
Foodie On The Road http://foodieontheroad.com/