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.

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:

    Assamese cuisines in internet

    As we talked about the gradually increasing exposure of Assamese cuisines in internet in our previous post, we accidently came across a blog by Dr. Ashish Chopra, a food traveller (as he likes to call himself). He has summarized all about Assamese cuisines in a single post very beautifully. His post contains most of the details along with nice photographs and that post is already popular with many followers posting their appreciation. Do check that out:

    The blog: ashthefoodie.wordpress.com

    The post: http://ashthefoodie.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/inside-an-assamese-kitchen

    Coming Back to Life

    Hey, first of all sorry for being away for such a long time and updating our blog with authentic Assamese recipes and preparations. Well, we had been terribly occupied with humdrums of the process called daily life fighting for survival in this ever changing and challenging world.

    Well, we guess you have not missed us much as we are sure you guys are able to search and find more Assamese authentic cuisines now online and well documented. One of such blog is being maintained and managed by Nomi Sonowal, another food enthusiast from our region. She has been really doing a commendable job of bringing out 100% home cooked and self prepared authentic Assamese cuisines in her blog and she been very very regular updating the same. Our kudos to you, Nomi and keep up the good work. You can find her blog in our list of blog entries (please check at the bottom of the page)

    The other day, while googling for some recipe we came across many blogs and sites which do list Assamese recipes, and we actually quite amazed at the results. When we first started this blog, we had very few fellow Assamese who were contributing to the movement to bring out the authentic and distinguished recipes from Assam and NE India to the world. Now, as we are moving ahead yet into another decade in this millennium, we sincerely hope, one day people would be able to taste Assamese food (or food cooked in Assamese way) all around the globe and people like Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown, Floyd visit Assam to showcase some of the signature recipes to the world.

    So, here we are back again and catching up with you with three trademark Assamese dishes without which the Assamese food blogging would be incomplete and inexcusable. Also a snap of our last Magh Bihu (Jan 2010) pitha platter. Happy reading