Know Food!

Khorisa is an ethnic ingredient used in Assamese cuisine. Essentially, it is grated bamboo shoots in raw, fermented or pickled form.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mati Mahor Khar (Black Gram Khar)

A traditional Assamese platter is incomplete without a khar (alkali) dish, normally prepared with soda  or  water distilled from smoked/burnt banana peel. Popular khar dishes include papaya khar, bottle gourd khar, cucumber khar, among others. One more khar dish relished by the kharkhowas is mati mahor khar (black gram lentil khar).

How to get your Khar ingredient: Sun-dry for some days the peels from seeded-bananas (bhim kal in Assamese) until they turn grey/black. Now take a sun-dried banana peel and burn it on your gas oven. Then soak the burnt peel in potable water overnight. Next morning, as the water turns tea-like and the ashes gather at the bottom, filter the water in a separate vessel. One or one-and-a-half cup is enough for your preparation

  • About 1 or 1/12 cup khar water (see above to prepare this water) 
  • About 250 gm black lentils
  • 1/2 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
  • 5-6 green chillis
  • 5-6 pods of garlic
  • two teaspon mustard oil
  • Coriander leaves
  • 5 spices
  • Salt to taste

Method: Soak the black grams overnight.Then Wash well to remove the skins, although there are a lot of people out there who prepare without removing the skin. Take the green chillis, garlic pods and corinader leaves and crush with a crusher. Heat one or two teaspoon oil in a pressurre cooker, add  five spices, followed by the garlic-chilli-coriander paste. Add onion and fry; the aroma that it gives out is simply difficult to resist.Then add the lentils and fry for some time before adding the khar. Drop one or two green chillis if you prefer it hot! Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles (or as your pressure cooker demands). Before serving, add one teaspoon of mustard oil to it because it accentuates the taste of the khar dish.  

Health quotient: Khar is said to cleanse your stomach.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Masur Dailor Bor (Red Lentil Fritters)

Masur dailor bor, prepared from masur dal (red lentil or Egyptian lentil) paste is a regular serve in Assamese cuisine. Mostly used as a starter, this is quite handy when guests drop in for a quick dinner/lunch.  If you haven’t tried it, you should certainly do so; it’s way better than the besan-made fritters we are so used to having! Here’re some steps that I use to prepare this mouth-watering fritter!

Red lentils (Masur Dal) – 250 gm
Rice Powder (optional) – 10 gm
Green Chillis – 4-5 (or depending on how hot you want it)
Baking Powder or Soda – 1 pinch
Onions – 2 (medium sized)
Mustard Oil (one cup for frying)
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves (one bunch – the more the better)

Method: Soak the lentils overnight and then grind in a mixer grinder till you get a course paste. In a bowl, add the lentil paste, rice powder (this makes it more crispy), baking soda, chopped onions, green chillis and coriander leaves. Then add salt and water and mix everything with a spoon (you can use your hand but I prefer spoon). The consistency of the batter should be thick. Heat oil; it should be really hot. Lower or adjust gas temperature as you fry the fritters. Serve hot as a starter or with dal and rice for a sumptuous lunch/dinner!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kon Bilahi Dal (Lentils with Cherry Tomatoes)

An Assamese kitchen serves a variety of dals (lentils), each with a distinct and subtle taste.  In fact, if you choose to have Assamese food on all 30 days of the month, you'll still have a different dal to savour each day. Among the plethora of dals cooked the Assamese way, dal with cherry tomatoes (kon bilahi) is quite popular and a personal favorite too. Great to have during the summer months, here's one way to prepare this particular dal.

What's required:
·    3/4 cup Masur Dal
·    1/4 cup Moong Dal
·    10 cherry tomatoes (approx.)
·    1/4 onion (finely chopped)                                                                               
·    4 green chillies
·    1 pinch pas phooron (5 spices comprise fennel seeds, fenugreek  seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and nigella seeds)
·    Salt to taste
·    One pinch turmeric powder
·    Coriander leaves (optional)
·    1 teaspoon mustard oil

In a pressure cooker, add the washed dals, water (about 4-5 cups or as per your requirement), cherry tomatoes, 2 chillies, salt and turmeric powder. (many people add the tomatoes while doing the tempering too).  Remove from cooker after two whistles.
Heat a pan and add the mustard oil; once hot, add the five spices, followed by the chopped onions and then the chopped coriander leaves.When the onions turn brownish, pour the boiled dal. Heat it for some time;cut two green chilies and add to the boiling dal.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ou Tenga Dal (Lentils with Elephant Apple)

Elephant apple (ou tenga) is one of the most popular fruits in Assam, used as a sour enhancer in traditional curries; but whenever I talk about this hard-shelled fruit to people here in North India, they give out an expression of “Now what on earth is this?”

For the uninitiated, elephant apple or wood apple is native to South East Asia and has a tangy flavor that adds a unique taste to your dal (lentils), fish and other curries. Back in Assam, we grew up on a lot of mythical stories surrounding this intriguing fruit too. So when my husband got me some during his last visit to the state, I rushed to my kitchen and prepared tangy dal with  this fruit. This is how:


•    Half elephant apple (washed well)
•    250 gm lentil (masoor)
•    3-4 chopped green chillis
•    1-2 pinch mustard seeds
•    Salt to taste
•    One pinch turmeric powder

Method: This is one of the easiest things to cook. Just cut the fruit into pieces and crush them. Keep aside. Wash the dal and add in a pressure cooker, along with the crushed ou tenga pieces, salt and turmeric powder. Pressure cook and remove after two hoots.In a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds and chopped green chillis. Pour the dal into it. Remove after some time.

Health benefits: The fruit is very effective against diabetes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chicken Raja Mircha (Bhut Jolokiar Logot Murgi Mangxho)

Whenever we visit Naga stall at Dilli Haat or the Nagaland Kitchen at Green Park, we make it a point to have Pork Raja Mircha for sure. I wanted to cook this dish at home but since pork is not readily available here in Faridabad, I tried my hand at Chicken Raja Mirchi; the taste was distinct from the Chicken Raja Mircha we normally have at the Naga stalls but we simply loved this fiery dish!

Here’s my recipe:


·         Chicken 250 gms (preferably small pieces and washed well)
·         Raja Mirchi – one or two – depending on how hot u want it to be
·         Garlic – 4-5 pods
·         One-two tablespoon oil
·         One large onion (grated)
·         Grated bamboo shoot/ bamboo shoot pickle – 1 or 2 teaspoon
·         Salt to taste
·         Coriander leaves (chopped well) - optional

Marinate the chicken with oil, salt and turmeric powder. Grate the onion. Crush the garlic and raja mirchas separately – keep them aside. Heat the pan and add oil.  Once hot, put the crushed garlic, followed by the grated onion. When the onion turns brownish, add the chicken, salt and turmeric powder and cook for some time. When you feel the chicken is cooked, pour 3-4 cups of hot water followed by the crushed raja mircha and grated bamboo shoots. Cook for some time and allow the water to recede. Add the chopped coriander and your chicken raja mircha is ready. Make your tastebuds ready for some fiery and tantalizing experiences!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Health-Enriching Tamarind Coolers (Teteli Tengar Shorbot)

During summer we drink gallons of aerated beverages without realizing that they could be causing so much harm to the body. Why consume harmful drinks when you can prepare health-enriching drinks at home within minutes. This summer we are making a conscious effort to stay away from aerated/soft drinks and sip only natural and fresh juice. Last week, I used up my stock of ripe tamarind pulp to prepare a jar of cool, refreshing and health-enriching tamarind juice. Just perfect on hot days to cool the body down and quench your thirst!

Tamarind juice has a series of health benefits too – it can be an effective remedy in curing and treating bile disorder.  The pulp of ripe tamarind is very useful in treating digestive and constipation problems; it can improve the loss of appetite too.

Tamarind juice is very easy to prepare; just follow these instructions and you’ll be right there. 


  • ·         Two-three tablespoon ripe tamarind pulp
  • ·         Four-five  table spoon sugar (or depending on your taste)
  • ·          1/4th teaspoon black salt (optional)
  • ·         Half litre potable water
  • ·         Two-three sprigs of mint (optional)


Wash the tamarind pulp well. You may have got them from a well-known brand, but still you need to wash them properly in potable water to ensure hygiene.  Set aside. Boil the water and add sugar. Add the tamarind pulp too along with salt. Stir well with a spoon. Use tea strainer and drain the tamarind syrup into a jar. Add the sprigs of mint to the tamarind water if you want and then refrigerate.  Your tamarind syrup is ready.
Remember: This is a concentrated syrup. So you need to mix it with the right amount of chilled water before serving.
This tamarind concoction is good enough to serve more than four people. You can even store them to serve when guests visit unannounced.
Note: If you like it spicy, you can add crushed green chillis too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Morisa Haak (Red Indian Spinach)

Leafy vegetables have been always popular in Assamese cuisine; even more now as aptly substantiated by a report on Beltola market which reads - consumers are now rediscovering local ethnic food like tender bamboo shoot, pashala and various leafy vegetables with medicinal properties because these are much cheaper compared to other vegetables like beans, capsicum, lady’s finger and brinjals.  

Recently we explored the sabzi mandi (vegetable market) of Sector 16, Faridabad and got some fresh leafy vegetables including the familiar Red Indian Spinach, popularly known as morisa haak in Assam.I cooked this spinach with potato and it turned out really nice (the stem too is relished in East India )!
·         Two bunches of the red spinach (wash well and cut)
·         Two or three medium sized potatoes
·         Two medium onions (chopped finely)
·         2-3 green chillies
·         About two teaspoon mustard oil
·         Salt to taste
·         Cumin seeds (jeera) 1/4th teaspoon
·         Coriander (optional)

Boil the potatoes, cut into four pieces and set aside. Heat oil in a pan, and add the cumin seeds to it. Add the chopped onions to it and fry. Before it turns golden, add the potatoes along with the cut spinach. Don’t add the salt immediately as it may be difficult to gauge the quantity – initially it may seem more but you’ll soon realize that it has receded considerably. That way you’ll know how much salt to add. While frying add the chillis (chopped well) and the coriander leaves (chopped well). Keep them on for some time.  Remove from gas and serve with dal and rice.