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 !!!!!

Jalukiya Koldil Paro Mangxo (Pigeon meat with Banana Flower in black pepper)

If you think we are too cruel to talk about pigeon meat, then probably go ahead and skip this post. Otherwise, if you are a non-vegetarian, we guarantee you, you would simple love this recipe. Trust us, this is one of the traditional recipe which people of Assam have been preparing for ages and they know what goes well with the pigeon meat. Yeah, you guessed it right, its the banana flower.

In Assamese society, every part of a banana plant has its usages. Right from the main produce of the plan i.e. the fruit, banana to the leaves and the stem to the trunk. To give you an idea of its different usages you can check out our previous posts on Assamese eating habits and on 'Khar'. Koldil, the banana flower is cooked in several ways and is eaten as a side dish. You can find many recipes to cook banana flower in the Assamese way in Nomi's blog or in many other Assamese cuisine websites.

Pigeon meat is considered to be a "warm" meat i.e. it gives you a warm feeling from inside when you eat it. This dish is generally prepared in the winter season or when it gets cold in the monsoon season. If you catch a cold or have a allergy to cold, then this is the must have dish for you. The other main ingredient of this dish, i.e. a lots of black peppercorns also add more heat to the dish. You can have this preparation with rice, roti or as a starter if you wish.

For this recipe you would need:

500 gms of pigeon meat cut into small pieces (make the pieces really small, cut with the bones)

1 fresh whole banana flower (make sure, the banana flower which you pick up is really a fresh one, you would not get the intended taste of the dish if you do not use a fresh banana flower)

1 medium sized potato

6 cloves of garlic

1 inch of ginger

2 red chilies

1 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder

Salt to taste

2 Bay leaves

1 teaspoonful of the mixture of whole cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seed, ajwain seeds and black cumin seeds in equal quantities

Cooking oil (again if you have mustered oil, its better)

Serves: 4 people

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 - 30 minutes

The most important part of this recipe is how you cut and clean the banana flower. Banana flower has many layers of skin which covers the inner most portion. By looking at the color and freshness of out layers you can determine whether a banana flower is fresh or not.

First you start peeling out the layers of banana flower. When you remove first 2-3 layers, you would find a ring of smaller white colored slender projections. These are the actual flower part of the entire big piece of the banana flower. The outer layers basically designed to protect them. These slender pieces are also edible and you can cut them into small pieces and make another dish out of them. If you touch them, if you find a "powdery" feeling, you would know the banana flower is fresh. Keep peeling of the layers until you find a off-white part of the flower. And here you go, this is it. Cut of the top and bottom portions out of the white part.

Now, wash the entire white part which you have before cutting. Then chop into fine pieces. You can also cut the actual flowers as shown in the accompanying picture, but you have to take care to remove the longest of the thready part in the center. Add some salt into the chopped pieces and using your hand, mash them. Some water will come out from the mashed pieces. The mashed output would turn to a darker shade. Drain out the water and keep the mashed banana flower aside. This step is important so that the basic taste of the banana flower is removed.

Make a paste of ginger and garlic.

Cut the potato into 8 wedges of equal size and fry them till they are half cooked and set aside.

Heat a wok (kadai) and put some cooking oil. Once the oil is hot and vapor starts coming out, reduce the flame a bit and crackle the mixture of cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and black cumin seeds. Add the dry red chills and the bay leaves. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry them for 2 minutes in medium low flame. Once the smell of garlic starts coming, add the pigeon meat and the mashed banana flower portions. Mix the entire mixture well. Add turmeric powder and the cumin powder. Keep stirring and fry them on medium high flame for 5-7 minutes. Now reduce the flame to minimum and cover the kadai with a lid. Let it simmer for say 15 minutes. Keep checking periodically to ensure the meat does not stick to the vessel. Generally the banana flowers will release some water and the meat gets cooked in that water. You can add some water if you think the meat might be burnt.

After cooking for fifteen minute, uncover the pan but do not increase the heat. Put the potato wedges and salt to the curry and mix them well. Cook the curry till the water evaporates and the banana flower mash is reduced to very fine size. Check if the meat has become tender. Do not add more water now but make sure the curry does not become too dry.

Coarsely grind the black peppercorns and add them to the curry and keep stirring for say 5 more minutes. If the meat has become tender to your level of satisfaction turn off the heat and your curry is ready. Serve hot with rice or roti.