Know Food!

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

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dried Fish Chutney (Xukan Masor Chutney)

Not many people like the overpowering smell of dried fish. However I developed a taste for it early in life when we were stationed in Garo Hills district of Meghalaya. I still remember the taste of ‘nakham bitchi’(dried fish soup) - ‘hot’, distinct and lip smacking - prepared from dried fish, soda and lots of chilies.

Even though dried fish is more popular in North Eastern states like Meghalaya and Manipur, Assam too has its share of dried fish delicacies like ‘hukuti’ (prepared from dried ‘puthi’ fish).

This chutney that I prepared today is not exactly an Assamese dish, it’s more in the line of a Manipuri Iromba (a kind of chutney prepared with fermented fish, tomatoes, potato and the red hot bhoot jholokia). Also, since dry fish is not readily available here in Delhi, I had to make do with what my bro-in-law got for us from Pattaya.

This chutney is healthy to the core as it retains all the goodness of a fresh fish; minus the spices and oil that come added in a traditional fish curry. Chilies however, are used generously. Don’t try this if you can’t have your food ‘hot’, because the main essence of this chutney is – yes, it sets your taste buds on fire!


• About 150 gm dried fish (any variety)
• About 10-12 green chilies (if you get hold of bhoot jholokia nothing like it – a few of these will do)
• 3-4 red chilies
• One medium sized potato (peeled)
• One medium sized onion (finely chopped)
• One medium sized tomato
• Five-six cloves of garlic and same amount of ginger (crushed)
• Some coriander leaves
• Salt to taste
• A dash of mustard oil
• Bamboo shoot (optional)


• Wash the dried fish properly in hot water. Set aside.
• In a pan, take potable water and boil the potato and green chilies together. But see to it that you don’t over boil it. Better you add the chilies later on. Or if you want, you may boil the stuff in a cooker to a single hoot. Keep the boiled water aside.
• In a non stick pan, heat the fish and red chilies. Add a little water to ensure they don’t burn. Remove when they get a brownish tinge.
• Roast the tomato on the gas burner directly. Or else, put the tomato in a non-sticky pan and heat it. Remove when the tomato becomes pulpy and keep aside.
• In a large utensil, add all the ingredients – fish, tomato, potato, chopped onions, green and red chilies, crushed ginger-garlic, salt, a dash of mustard oil and two-three teaspoon of the kept-aside water (that you used to boil the chilies and potatoes). Add the coriander leaves and the bamboo shoots too if you have them.
• Mash the mixture with your hands (just like you mash boiled potatoes) or with a table spoon. There, your dried fish chutney is ready. Now relish it with plain rice and dal!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fish Egg Fry (Masor Koni Bhaja)

Just like the Bengalis, we Assamese people too leave no portion of the fish uneaten. Be it the head, tail, intestine or for that matter fish eggs, we gorge on just about everything!
Easy and simple, here’s how to cook this personal favorite - Fish egg fry:


• Fish eggs – about 200 gm (washed well)
• Onion – two (finely chopped)
• Tomato – One (finely chopped)
• Ginger and garlic (pounded)
• Dry red chilli -two
• Green chilli – two
• Mustard oil – about two to three tablespoons
• Salt and turmeric (as per your taste)
• Coriander leaves (optional)


• Wash the fish eggs properly and boil them for about a minute or two. Take them off the water; pour oil in a pan and deep fry them. Keep them aside.
• Further heat oil in a pan; add the dry chillies, onions, tomato, ginger-garlic paste and fry them for some time. Add salt and turmeric powder, followed by the fried fish eggs. Fry them together for some more time. Add green chillis on top. Your fish egg is ready in a jiffy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pithali (A soup-like gravy prepared from rice powder & vedai lata or skunk vine)

This is something which I learnt from my Ma during her two-day halt at our place last month. I’m not sure if this would appeal to the taste buds of all; this is had more for its medicinal value than for its taste. But it has a distinct taste which both Daddy and Abhijit relish.
‘Vedai lata’ (or skunk vine in English) is a kind of creeper found in Assam (and other North Eastern states) and has a pungent smell that not many people may like. Having grown up in the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, I remember the Garos using this creeper (‘phaising buddu’ in their parlance) to cook various local dishes.
Extremely good for the stomach, here’s how to prepare this health-enriching ‘Pithali’; so named because ‘pitha guri’ (rice powder) is used to prepare this soup-like dish.


• About four-five teaspoon pitha guri (rice powder)
• About three cups of water
• Two-three teaspoon vedai lata powder (it’s always better to use fresh vedai lata leaves but since it’s practically difficult to get them here, I used vedai lata powder, which my Ma-in-law had sundried and stored in powder form)
• About five cloves of garlic
• Green chilli
• Salt to taste


• Heat the water in a pan and then add the rice powder to it, followed by the vedai lata powder.
• Add salt , garlic (ground) and chilli to the preparation.
• When the gravy thickens a bit, remove from stove. Your healthy ‘pithali’ is ready!