Assam has always been well-known for a lot of factors like its ancient temple Kamakhya, picturesque Majuli island, Bihu festival, river Brahmaputra as well as its traditions and culture. People the world over have shown their interests in the Assamese culture and especially its cuisine. Since the river Brahmaputra flows through this state and due to its humid climate, fish is found in abundance here, so also the production of vegetables. Most of the dishes are made with dry and fermented fishes or fruits and typical hilly spices.
The process of cooking starts with gentle frying of the spices before the other ingredients (called Bhuna in Assamese) are added. In any traditional Assamese regular meal, Khar, an alkaline dish unique to the state, is served first followed by the entire main course items with steamed rice. Khar is a very popular and important food item in the region not only because of its availability but also due to its medicinal values. Anyone wishing to savour Assamese dish can make this item easily and quickly. Here is the recipe for Papaya (Amita in Assamese) Khar and Bamboo (Sunga in Assamese) Rice.
- 500gms - Rohu Fish Head (Cleaned, cut into 4 pieces and salted).
- 500gms - Raw Papaya (peeled, washed and cubed).
- ½ tablespoon of crushed Garlic.
- 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger paste.
- 2 slit green chillies.
- ½ tablespoon of Sugar.
- 1 tablespoon of Kolakhar, if unavailable, 1/4th teaspoon of Sodium Bicarbonate.
- 100ml of hot water.
- 3 tablespoon of mustard oil.
- Green Chillies (to garnish).
- Salt to taste.
Put a pressure cooker over the gas flame, add two tablespoon of mustard oil and allow it to heat up. Add the crushed garlic and stir till they turn brown. Add the salted fish head pieces and keep stirring for a minute or two. Add the cubed papaya pieces and stir for half a minute, add to it the green chillies, salt, sugar, Kolakhar or Sodium Bicarbonate, while stirring continuously. Into the mixture add the hot water and close the pressure cooker. When full pressure gets formed, reduce the heat and let it remain so for another 3 minutes. Turn off the gas and open the lid after it cools down a bit, stir and cook for another two minutes without covering it. Turn off the gas and transfer the item to a serving bowl. To garnish add the remaining mustard oil and the green chillies. Your Papaya Khar is ready to be served.
- A piece of tender and edible bamboo which has both sides closed.
- An open arrangement of fireplace so that the whole Bamboo could be burnt.
- Take rice which will fill half of the Bamboo.
- You can use dried chicken/pork/meat, if unavailable you may use fresh chicken washed and cut into pieces.
- 4 cardamom
- Half inch cinnamon
- One large onion peeled and chopped
- Two tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
- Fresh Banana leaves
- Salt to taste
Wash the rice and soak it for half an hour, drain the water and keep aside. Clean the rest of the ingredients (if required) and mix them in a bowl, except the bamboo and banana leaves. Mix the ingredients with the rice and open the bamboo from one side and fill it up with the whole mixture and pour water leaving about an inch. Close the other open end with banana leaves tightly. Now roast the bamboo in the fireplace. When it turns dark brown, your food is cooked. Remove it from the flame and serve hot.