Friday, April 24, 2009

Baanhor Chungat Maach (Fish in Bamboo Hollow): From the Assamese Kitchen

Month of April is Bihu festival time in Assam, a north eastern state of India.
So now lots of variety cooking are happening in the Assamese kitchen, here are the list of some items below:

KHAR : A curry mixed with the juice of banana soots. (It is made by drying the trunk of banana plant or banana peels and setting it on fire. The ashes are kept soaked in a coconut shell and the juice that flows out is known as kalakhar.)This dish can be prepared with vegetables, dried night jasmine flowers(Xewali Fhul), fish and dals.

TENGA : A sour dish made either with leafy vegetables like fern-shoots, Taro leaves, fish or dal vadas ,the sourness being produced by the addition of lime juice, elephant apples and tomatoes.

BHAPOT DIYA : Fish or vegetables steamed with oil and spices. A classic steaming technique is to wrap the fish in banana leaf to give it a faint musky, smoky scent.

PITIKA : Any vegetable, such as potatoes, beans, Taro, pumpkins or Brinjal, first boiled whole and then mashed and seasoned with mustard oil or ghee and spices.

PURA : Literally, burnt over charcoal. Vegetables are wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over a wood or charcoal fire. Some, like eggplants (brinjals/aubergines), are put directly over the flames. Before eating the roasted vegetable is mixed with mustard oil and spices.

PITHA : Typical Assamese snack, prepared from powdered sticky rice called Bora Saul. This snack is sweet as various sweetners like sugar, jaggery, crated coconuts are added. This snack is well accompanied with a cup of refreshing Assam tea. There are different varieties of pithas like Til(Black sesame) Pitha, Ketlir mukhot diya pitha (steamed using a kettle with full of boiling water),Sunga pitha (It is cooked by stuffing the bora saul or sticky rice, whether ground or whole, into bamboo cylinders, and placing the cylinder on fire. It can be had with gur (jaggery) alone, or with doi (curd) and komal saul, another typically Assamese ready-to-eat rice; which can be soaked in water and it's ready to eat) etc. This a common snack during the Bihu time (Assamese newyear).

One of those items is Baanhor Chungat Maach (Fish in Bamboo Hollow):

# Boneless fish: 6 pieces
# Crushed garlic: ½ tbsp
# Slit green chillies: 2
# Mustard oil: 1 tbsp
# Sliced onions: 2 small sized
# Grated ginger: 1 level tsp
# Salt: to taste
# Tender bamboo hollow: 1 (this one is important, you must required this)
# Banana leaf: 1
# To garnish: coriander leaves, mustard oil – 1 ½ tbsps


# Clean, wash and drain the fish.
# Clean the banana leaf. Dry it and pass over low fire to make the leaf pliable.
# In a small bowl mix together crushed garlic, slit green chillies, mustard oil and salt.
# Add the mixture to the fish and mix well.
# Fill the bamboo hollow with the fish and seal with soften banana leaf.
# Place the hollows over charcoal fire.
# Rotate the bamboo hollows from time to time till it is evenly burnt.
# Leave it to cool. Slit open the bamboo hollows.
# Add sliced onions, grated ginger and mustard oil to the fish and mix well.
# Serve Baanhor Chungat Mach as a side dish.

Notes: Assamese people prefer green chillies to the dry red chillies.

For knowing more what is happening inside an Assamese Kitchen plz visit  assamese cuisine, you will be not disappointed.

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