As the fragrant aroma of freshly cooked delicacies fills the air, the Assamese people gear up to celebrate Rongali Bihu with a gastronomic extravaganza like no other! This festival is not just about ushering in the new year but also about savoring the rich flavors and culinary traditions of Assam. From mouth-watering pithas and luscious larus to delectable curries made with fish, chicken, or pork, Rongali Bihu is a feast for the senses that will leave you craving more. So, get ready to take a culinary journey through the heart of Assam, as we explore the vibrant and diverse flavors of Rongali Bihu. Here are a few mouthwatering dishes that make rongali bihu more special.
This recipe requires rice powder, jaggery, water, and freshly ground pepper. To prepare the rice powder, soak the rice for 3-4 hours, drain it, and spread it on a kitchen towel to dry. Then, pound it to a fine powder and sieve it with a very fine sieve.
Keep it in an airtight container for later use. Next, roast the rice powder in a heavy-bottomed kadai until it emits a sweet aroma, stirring it continuously. Remove it from the fire and mix in freshly ground pepper.
In a separate pot, create a syrup by mixing jaggery and water over low heat. Add a little of this syrup to the rice powder to make firm, round balls. Dust the balls with roasted rice powder and store them in an airtight container.
Take 500 g of duck meat that has been thoroughly washed and cleaned. Mix it with ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric powder, cumin and black pepper paste (in a 1:1 ratio), and one tablespoon of mustard oil.
Let the mixture marinate for a while. Peel and cut three potatoes into chunks. In a kadhai, heat up the remaining five tablespoons of mustard oil, then add bay leaves, green chillies, and dry red chillies.
Add the chopped onions and fry them until they turn golden brown. Next, add the marinated duck and continue frying for a few minutes. Add the potato chunks and keep frying. After a few minutes, pour in one cup of water.
Cover and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the duck meat becomes tender. Finally, remove the kadhai from the heat and serve the dish hot with steamed rice.
A beloved treat in Assam, Ghila Pithas are a must-have during the Bohag Bihu festivities. To make them, you'll need two cups of rice flour made from new rice (not the fine powder kind from the supermarket), 1.5 cups of jaggery (adjust sweetness to your liking), oil for frying, 2 tsp of grated orange rind, a pinch of baking soda/powder, and optionally, 1 tbsp of sticky rice for binding and crispy edges.
To prepare, soak the rice in water for two hours, strain it, and let it sit for two more hours. Grind the rice to a slightly coarse powder in a mixer, leaving some granules intact for binding. Dissolve the jaggery in a little water with a pinch of soda and mix it into the flour to form a wet, loose dough.
Add orange rind for a fresh, zesty flavor. Brush your hands with oil to prevent sticking and shape small balls, flattening them slightly in the center. Deep fry in hot oil until crisp on the outside and soft inside, cooking first on high flame, then low. Drain excess oil on tissue paper and enjoy!
To make this delicious dessert, start by soaking 50 grams of Joha saul in water for a few hours or overnight. In a large pot, bring a liter of whole milk to a boil and add two Tezpatta leaves. Allow the milk to reduce to half its original volume. Next, strain the soaked Joha saul and add it to the milk, stirring well and avoiding the addition of any water.
As the rice cooks and the mixture becomes creamy, add half a cup of sugar, two tablespoons of Khishmish that have been soaked in water, and a quarter cup of chopped Cashews, Almonds, and Pistachios.
Sprinkle in a quarter teaspoon of Elaichi Powder and a pinch of Camphor powder, stirring continuously to ensure that the mixture doesn't become too thick. Keep in mind that the dessert will thicken even more as it cools down. Once it's done, you can garnish it with a few dry fruits and serve it chilled. Enjoy!
For this recipe, you will need 1 kg of Bora saul, also known as Thai sticky rice, 2 shredded coconuts, and 500 g of sugar. To begin, wash the rice and let it soak for 10 minutes before draining the water and setting it aside.
Once drained, grind the wet rice. In a separate pan, mix the sugar with the shredded coconut and heat it on low flame until the sugar melts and the coconut begins to stick together. On a low flame tawa, spread the rice powder in a circular shape, then add the sugary coconut mixture and fold it over.
Press the pitha with a clean cotton cloth to ensure that the fold stays closed. You can repeat these steps as necessary to make more pithas.
Coconut ladoos, also known as Narikol laru or loskora in Assam, are the perfect treat to enjoy with your evening cup of hot beverage. These delicious treats can be easily made in just 20 minutes. To make them, you will need 1 cup of grated coconut with the black layer removed, 1/4 cup of sugar (adjustable to taste), a hint of crushed cardamom (optional), one tablespoon of lime juice, and two tablespoons of oil or ghee.
Start by adding the grated coconut and sugar to a heavy bottom pan and stir on low flame until the sugar dissolves, giving you a sticky consistency. Add a hint of crushed cardamom and a tablespoon of lime juice to give your ladoos a clear white appearance. Then, apply some oil to your palms and make balls out of the mixture while it's still hot, but not piping hot. Place the ladoos in a tray and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours before transferring them to an airtight container. These delicious ladoos are now ready to be served with any hot beverage of your choice.
Masor Tenga is a traditional dish from Assamese cuisine. To make this dish, you will need around 4-5 fillets of Rohu fish that weigh about 100 g each, fresh tomatoes, slit green chillies, mustard oil, fresh lime juice, turmeric powder, fenugreek seeds, brown mustard seeds, salt, and chopped coriander.
Firstly, wash, clean, and pat dry the fish fillets. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder on them and give it a good toss. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the fish fillets. Lightly brown them on both sides for about a minute or two.
Next, chop the tomatoes or blanch them to remove the skin, puree them, and strain to remove the seeds to make the gravy smoother. Remove the excess oil from the wok and add the brown mustard and fenugreek seeds, and let them sputter. Toss in the slit chilies and pureed tomatoes, and stir for a few minutes. Add salt, turmeric powder, and simmer for a few minutes. Pour in a cup of water and bring it to a boil.
Then, gently lower the fish fillets into the gravy and simmer with the wok covered for 5-7 minutes. You can adjust the thickness of the gravy to your preference. Finally, drop in the lime juice and finely chopped coriander leaves and simmer for a minute. Serve hot with steaming Joha rice and some crisp fritters on the side.