Assam, a prominent northeastern state, is known mostly for its famous tea gardens, lush green forest and series of mountains and exotic wildlife. However, it is also rich in culture and heritage. The cuisine of the state is also fascinating. While spices are used sparingly, Assamese people make extensive use of bamboo shoots, fish and meat to make most dishes. However, that does not mean you cannot find sweet dishes in Assamese kitchens! Assamese cuisine includes various types of pithas-rice cakes made with numerous ingredients, served mostly as side dishes.
Popular pithas of Assamese cuisine
Below listed are the most popular Pithas that Assamese people prepare. Some of these are usually cooked during festive events.
- Tekeli pitha
This is one type of steamed rice cake, made widely in Assamese households. It is used extensively as a breakfast recipe. Traditionally it was made by soaking raw rice in water and then draining and grinding damp rice. Nowadays, some people use rice flour to save time. The rice powder is steamed in Tekeli- a special utensil. For filling the pitha, grated jiggery and shredded fresh coconut is used.
- Ghila Pitha
This is a must have in festivals in Assam. It tastes best when made with local rice and fresh jaggery. Rice flour is too smooth and using it to make the pitha does not lead to authentic texture. For binding the pithas a bit of Sticky rice and baking powder is also used. Another ingredient is orange rind. Coarsely grinded rice powder, mixed with jaggery and soda is used as the base of pitha. Using orange rind makes the dish sweeter. The dough is used to make small balls which are fried in oil. The ghila pitha is crisp outside but soft inside.
- Mohura Pitha
This is another festive delicacy of Assam. Made with Rice flour, salt, coconut and cardamom, this pitha has a nice aroma. The coconut, sugar and cardamom are used as filling for the rice cakes. The pithas are steamed in boiling water. It is served warm.
- Chunga pitha
Bamboos are used in many forms in Assamese cuisine. This delicious pitha is made with Bamboo tubes. The ingredients like sticky rice powder, sugar and grated coconut are mixed and poured inside tender bamboo tubes. These filled bamboo tubes are closed with banana leaf and slow roasted over fire. The tube is rotated over the fire so that the pitha can be cooked properly. After the tube is cooled, it is split and tube shaped pithas are sliced and served with jaggery.
- Til Pitha
This is one type of pancake made with sesame seeds. It is made extensively in festive days in Assamese households. The ingredients used to make these delicious dishes are glutinous rice, black Sesame seeds, jaggery and water. These sesame seeds are roasted and pounded and mixed with jaggery. The grinded rice is used to make pancake batter and the jaggery and seeds mix are used as stuffing.