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.
- 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
13. Cover the pan with a lid and leave it for sometime so that the aroma of the spices is reserved.
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)