Aakhol Ghor, the Assamese Cuisines and Foods from Assam

Its all about Food and Food Habits from the land of blue hills and red river, Assam.

Aakhol Ghor means Kitchen in Assamese. Assamese traditional Kitchens normally has two parts. First the dining area plus a small cooking space for tea etc. And the next bigger and more functional room is the actual kitchen with at least two earthen fire places (chowka).If you are a food lover you can hope to see a lot of authentic Assamese Recipes in this place......


Some famous Chef of India once said, " India is so unique, one can find three different recipes for the same chicken curry in the three houses lined in the same row. Every kitchen and every cook in India has it's own cook book, unlike rest of the world."
I personally feel it is so well said. Even in my case, you might find small to big differences in your known method of cooking and the ones posted here. I call them true Assamese for two main reasons, one: because of the spices used, and two: my granny knew nothing beyond her village ( she did not believe that cauliflower can be green, which is Broccoli). So whatever she cooked was passed on over generation. And my Mom finds it hard to believe anything can be cooked beyond her traditional methods( she is best at it, though she makes excellent Indo - Chinese things, invented). So please feel free to put in your comments / correction. One thing I can assure is I have cooked all these ( everything) myself with my own hands at least once. So whatever is here is tried and tested. You are always welcome to do your bit of experiment !!!!!

Hanhor Mangxo Komora (Duck meat with Ash Gourd)

Traditionally, this dish is considered to be a delicacy cooked and served on special occasions like Bihu, feast or for special guests. Even now-a-days, this dish is still integral part of any celebration or festivities.

Though there are many variety of ducks available in Assam and NE India, we are going to talk about Paati Hanh (a type of mallard duck). People from Assam and NE region also like geese, wild ducks (especially a variety called as Xorali Hanh, a migratory duck, it is illegal to hunt for one though!) and this preparation can also be done for them.

In Assam, the best season to eat duck meat is considered to be from Kaati Maah (late October) till Bohag (Early April). During this time frame, normally all domesticated ducks gorge on the freshly harvested rice grain residues and small fishes in the pond or bils (small lake) and become quite matured with meat and fat. In fact, in the villages of Assam, people used to select which duck to catch for dinner depending upon the speed at which a duck runs in its folk.

This recipe is indeed very simple (as like other Assamese recipes) and easy to remember. But for this recipe, you need to use some whole spices (unlike most Assamese dishes) especially the black pepper. The Assamese, (with the exception of those who has to halal due to reasons what so ever) normally kills the duck by a single blow at the bottom of the neck and then tears down the feathers. Now, the most important step here is to burn the duck with the skin on a high flame. This ensures the root of the feathers are removed and any other impurities on the skin is destroyed. For this recipe you need to cut the duck with the skin on. The thin layer of fat under the skin, makes the meat very very delicious. Another important aspect of making this dish is how you cut the duck. It is important to slit open the duck in the belly part and throw away its digestive system very carefully to avoid blasting of its intestine. You need to cut the duck meat into smaller pieces than you would make for a chicken for a chicken curry.

Ash gourd or White Gourd which is known as Komora in Assamese is the main ingredient of this dish. There are a few different types of white gourd available. For this dish, you need to pick up a tender white gourd. The one which is called as Joha komora or Jaali komora in Assamese are the best for the duck curry.


  • Duck meat (cut into small pieces) 750 gms
  • A portion of ash gourd 350 gms
  • 2 medium sized red onions


  • Dry Red Chillies (whole) as hot as you might want
  • Cumin Seeds (whole)
  • Coriander seeds
  • Black Peppercorns (whole) you need this bit more than other garam masala items
  • bay leaves medium sized 2 nos
  • Garlic medium sized 8 - 10 cloves
  • Ginger 1 inch
  • Green Chilies 3 nos. slit length wise
  • Turmeric powder 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooking Oil, preferably mustered oil 4 tablespoon
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing
    Serves: 4 persons

    Preparation Time: 15 minutes

    Cooking Time: 30 minutes

    1. Wash the duck meat pieces and strain out and set aside to dry
    2. Cut the ash gourd into small cubes of one by one and half inch size and keep aside
    3. Make a paste of ginger and garlics
    4. Heat a pan without putting any oil and put cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dry red chilies and black peppercorns and stir them till the smell start to come out. Do not burn them.
    5. Grind the hot garam masala together to a powder.
    6. Grate or grind the onions to make a coarse paste.
    7. Heat a wok (kadai) or heavy bottom deep frying pan and put the mustered oil to get warm. Make sure to put as much oil as required to get the grated onions to get fried well without burning.
    8. First put the bay leaves into the hot oil and then throw the slit green chilies.
    9. Then put the grated onion in the pan and keep frying them on medium high flame till they turn golden brown and oil starts to come out of the paste.
    10. Put the duck meat pieces in the kadai and mix them well with the onions and keep frying them for 5 to 7 minutes in medium high flame. Add turmeric powder
    11. Add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well. Reduce the flame and keep frying for another 10 minutes.
    12. If your duck meat had some fat, oil will start to come out by now. Now add a little water to the garam masala powder which you made earlier and add the paste to the meat and mix them well. Add a tea spoon of sugar to caramelize if you want.
    13. Cover the pan with a lid and leave it for sometime so that the aroma of the spices is reserved.
    14. Now put the ash gourd pieces in the pan and mix with the meat and masala and fry for 2-3 minutes in high heat. Add some hot water so that your meat does not get burnt and stick to the pan. Do not put much water; just add as much as to marginally cover the meat.
    15. Add salt to your taste
    16. Reduce the flame and put the lid back on the pan and leave it for 15 minutes or so till the pieces of ash gourd starts to melt. Keep checking and stirring so that it does not stick to the base of the pan.
    17. Gradually the fat of the duck meat would be released and the resultant product would be a oily gravy. Check if you need more gravy. If you want, pour some water, but this dish would be more enjoyable with less gravy.
    18. If the pieces of the duck meat is tender to your taste, then you are done.
    19. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
    20. Serve with hot steamed plain raice (bhat), arahar daal and lemon (kaaji nemu)

    Optionally, if you are a potato lover, you can cut a medium sized potato and add it along with the ash gourd pieces in the dish. If you like it little hot, then add some more coarsely grounded black peppercorns before you get the pan out of the stove.

    01/30/2011: Just adding a picture of our home-cooked dish here:


    1. Thanks for putting up this post

    2. You're doing a great job...

      Axom is one of the great state having its unique diversity and culture. You are doing a great job in bringing these exclusive information to our attention.


    3. Thanks a lot Diganta for your encouraging comments. Do keep visiting

    4. gr8! ....lovely. THANKS

    5. Hey thx buddy. I'll try it this Bihu..


    6. how much cumin, coriander and black pepper did you grind for this recipe??

    7. Wow! Wonderful. Thanks for the recipe. Had a great feast. i am sure it would help many like me.
      Keep up the good job. Congratulations.

    8. x-লৈ কোনো অসমীয়া শব্দৰ আখৰৰ উচ্চাৰণ নহয়।

    9. Hi,

      I have tied to list down 15 Unique And Fuss Free Delicacies From Assam for Polka cafe website and have added a back link to your website for this recipe. I hope that's fine.

      Please share the article if you like it.

      Here is the link- http://www.polkacafe.com/how-to-make-unique-assamese-dishes-1760.html

      Many thanks,

    10. Duck meet will not boil with the above cooking time. You need to cook for atleast an hour to make the meat tender and then add gourd.

    11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    12. To reduce the duck raw smell..what shall i do..plz suggest


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