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 !!!!!

Nangol Dhuwa Pitha / Tora Pitha - Steamed Rice Cakes

First of all, thank you Rupam Kowar from FB :  https://www.facebook.com/rupkon?directed_target_id=0. 
The original photo is his. 

I have been pondering over two things. Assam has 6 seasons ! And we Assamese know how to celebrate each moment with specific food and some sort of music. Guess we really came down from the heavens through a golden ladder, that we seem to know how to live life king size. Our food is simple and has exotic taste! How can something be so simple? Some times it is so simple that I do not know how to describe. Hence when I saw this picture, I could not resist but use it. 

Nangol Dhuwa is the end of all plowing season normally falls say Mid End Sept to Mid End October. This is the time when all farming jobs comes to a halt and the time to reap your harvest. People start to take life easy ( we are easy any way) and prepare for harvesting (not the witchy version).  

This is normally a small ritual at home, not much of fanfare ( because people are hardly left with much money) and then distribute some of this cooked Pitha to the neighbours. This also declares that till next farming season, we are done ! In olden days it was a social way of saying, '' now I am available for social causes and celebrations''. ( this is what I gathered from my grand father; he used to say '' eh tahati nagol dhuwai nai, keneke ahibo'' meaning '' Sigh, they have not yet hung their plough, how can we bother them''. 

Let me not go on and on about it, and give you the pitha recipe.

1. Banana Leaf - depending on how much and what size of pitha you want.
2. Rice Flour - Ideally Bora Saul, but any sticky rice - 2 Cup
3. Seasoning - Coconut Powder - 1/2 Cup
4. Salt & Sugar - As you like it.
5. A pot to boil.

Mix 2, 3 &4. Make a paste. NOT dough, thick paste ( thicker than your traditional pan cake).
Leave it for about two hours if you are using dry flour. In this case you will need more water.
If you are using fresh flour, you are ready to cook.
Now take about 2 table spoon for 1 pitha and wrap it up like in picture 4.
Let the water boil in a deep pan. Meanwhile your wrapping job may have been done. Once the water boils, remove from fire, put the packets you have made and drop them in water; put the pan back on fire.

You must be careful that all packets are submerged in water. Once the pitha is cooked, in most case it will float up. Else, just in case of fresh flour, it takes about 10-15 minutes depending upon where you are. Dry four takes a little more time.

Take them out and they are steamy hot.

If salty, serve with duck curry, if sweet eat with fresh cream or tea !!!

NOTE: You can use any other leaf that is traditionally used to steam in your place, a bit of flavour difference, but who cares. When I do sweet, I add a cardamom to the water just for fun; mind you not part of the original recipe. 


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