Ever Tried The Assamese Thali?
Chef Anirban Dasgupta offers us a compelling reason to explore the north eastern cuisine.
Visiting a Taj hotel comes with a guarantee of good food, and the Vivanta by Taj Guwahati is no exception. But executive chef Anirban Dasgupta goes a step ahead to ensure that while food from around the world is served at the hotel’s restaurants, local Assamese cuisine is highlighted too.
At the Umami restaurant, you can’t leave without savouring the Assamese spread. “It’s different from the rest of the north Eastern food – there’s a lot more variety,” says Dasgupta. “The food is simpler, with bold flavours. The variety of vegetables and meats available is better. And while the ingredients and cooking medium are similar to Bengali cuisine, Assamese flavours hold their distinction due to unique selection of sour vegetables and meats like duck and pigeon.”
Dasgupta employs local cooking techniques like Pura (dry roasting over charcoal), Sidhho (boiling – used for stews etc), Patot Diya (steaming in banana leaves and others) and, of course, pickling. He ensures that local produce is highlighted too. Mushrooms come from Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, miso paste and sushi rice from Sikkim and cheese from Kalimpong. A variety of local fish is also offered.
Bilahi Masor Tenga Hurum
An Assamese thali typically consists of 4-5 vegetarian dishes, a local green vegetable, aloo pitika, kola bora, joha rice and bora saul. Dasgupta’s other recommendations from the cuisine include:
Masor Tenga – This is one dish people across the country relate to Assam. It is a local fish in a sour gravy.The sourness can come from several sour vegetables found in the state – the most popular being tomato.
Pura Maas – Smoked and roasted local fish with basic marination. This delicacy is commonly sold at festivals and in tribal areas.
Sidhho Chicken – A speciality of the Bodo tribe from Upper Assam , this is boiled chicken with local herbs and vegetables in the purest form.