The world is divided into two kinds of people- one, who eat to live and the other who live to eat. And if you happen to belong to the latter category, this article is exactly what you are searching for. The north eastern state of Assam is wearing a festive look these days. And why shouldn’t it? For the biggest festival of the state is just round the corner. The ‘Magh Bihu’ also known as the ‘Bhogali Bihu’ for the simple but appetisingly inviting reason that it is a festival of eating out and making merry is scheduled in the third week of January and it is high time we take a look at what the a la carte menu will be this festive season at any household of the state.
Undoubtedly the show stopper of the Bihu, the Jolpan is an amalgamation of puffed rice, flattened rice, grounded rice and a special glutinous rice indigenous to the state of Assam, all mixed together along with a generous serving of home made curd and sugar. As if this isn’t sweet enough, there’s a whole big chunk of jaggery waiting to be added to this already heavy meal that is a traditional meal eaten as breakfast during the Bihu.
Related: 3 Traditional Breakfast Dishes of Assam
If you talk of Assam and you don’t mention Pitha, you haven’t done your homework. Without second thoughts, the most popular culinary delight from the state is the Pitha. The flag bearer of Assamese cuisine, Pitha is made by grounding a special glutinous rice known as ‘Bora Saul’ in the local dialect. The sticky rice helps form the perfect binding agent for the crepe which is filled with either crushed coconut mixed with jaggery or black sesame. Some varieties also have a sweetened condensed milk also known as ‘Kheer’ in between. If you come to Assam and don’t have Pitha, your journey will be deemed incomplete (issued in public interest).
Small, spherical balls of joy. That’s possibly the best way to describe these sweets. A cousin of the nation-wide phenomenon, the Laddoo, Narikol Laru is made of grated coconut mixed with sugar and jaggery (in some cases) and roasted. Then they are given small spherical shapes with the bare hands. The result is not just a treat to the eyes but something which catapults you to an entirely different comfort level.
Related: Traditional Bhogali Bihu Snacks
Though traditionally not an Assamese delicacy, the humble Maalpua (which now finds mention in Bollywood numbers as well!) has found its takers in Assam. It is made by frying the ‘khoya’ and ‘maida’ batter by giving it a flat pan-cake inspired shape and then dunking in in sugar syrup. The sweet is immensely loved during the Bihu season. The soft on the inside yet crunchy on the outside snack is an instant crowd puller.
Related: Top Bihu Festival Recipes
What is ‘Kheer’ to north India and ‘Payesh’ to West Bengal is known as ‘Payokh’ in Assam. The rocket science behind it is the same throughout the nation. It is a rice based dessert made with milk, generous dollops of sugar, jaggery and a sprinkling of dried fruits for garnishing. The ever so popular sweet dish is the king of everything sweet during the festive season in Assam and is a much loved dish in all households.
Related: How to Prepare Assamese Khar