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Glossary of Assamese food and cooking terms

Assamese food names are unique and they sound sweetest to an Assamese food lover. Like Assamese food habits food names to require lots of explanation when it comes to a non-Assamese.
Here are some Assamese food names and cooking terms with meaning.

  • Bhat: Bhat actually means boiled/steamed rice. But when an Assamese talks about having bhat that means bhat/boiled/steamed rice with all assorted items like daal/bhaji/meat preparation or anything comes as a part of the full course.
  • Dail :  Dail means daal. Lentils are cooked with lots of water along with termeric powder and salt  and then and tempered with pachphoran.

  • Bhaji/Tarkari/ Aanja: A dry vegetable preparation is called bhaji. A semi-liquid or gravy preparation of vegetables with or without spices are called Aanja/tarkari/sabji.
  • Khar : Khar means alkaline.  Dried plantain tree parts like stem, root etc are burnt and then the Ash remains are filtered to get Khar. The peels of Bheemkal(a variety found in Assam) also used for this purpose. Water is filtered through the ash remains to get alkaline water, which is used in vegetable preparations like Amitar khar,Teohar khar, Butmahar khar, pasolar khar etc which are some of the most loved Assamese delicacies. Assamese people love to call themselves  as Kharkhowa Asomiya for this  love for Khar preparations.
  • Tenga: Anything comes with a sour taste is refered as tenga. Masor Tenga is  tangy fish preparation made sour by tomatoes, thekera, lemon juice Kharisa etc.
  • Khorisa: Kharija is also called Banhgaj.  Bamboo shoots are collected on time to keep them fermented for 3-4 days. Then Kharisa is prepared as different varies like xukan kharisa(dry bamboo shoot), Kharisar asar, Kharisa pani etc.
  • Betgaj : Tender Cane stems peeled to use as a vegetable. Betgaaj Pora or Bhoja is a popular bitter item of Assame cuisine.
  • Xaak: Green leafy vegetables are called xaak. But prepared when they are prepared as a curry it is also called xaak.
  • Kosu Xaak: Different preparation of Colocassia leaves like Kasur Jalukia, Kon Bilahi diya Kasur xaak etc.
  • Kharikat Diya: Crispy  fried fish in mustard oil.
  • Kahudi : Kahudi is a kind of pickle but completely different from the greasy kind of normal pickles. Kahudi is made of Mustard seeds and other spices.
  • Kharoli: Kharoli too is prepared from Mustard seeds but instead of Souring agents like lemon juice or thekera thenga it is tempered by Khar pani (alkaline filtrate).
  • Paanitenga: Similar to Kahudi but unlike Kahudi it is not runny.
  • Pitika: Pitika is a side dish. Mashed vegetables like potato, tomato, Aubergin, eggplants etc or fish (small varieties) are used to make Pitika. To seaon the Pitika we use a red chillies, or chopped green chillied, hot mustard oil, sauted onions or garlic and salt usully. Pitika with Poitabhat tastes heavenly!
  • Poitabhat: Boiled rice is soaked in water overnight to get fermented. The next day it is called Poitabhat and is relished with Pitika, or Kharisa and bhoot Jalakia.
  • Patot diya: Fish or vegetables are wrapped in a banana leaf. Then they are steamed in a pressure cooker or roastes in a pan with the help of little oil. The cooked fish or veggies are then mashed into a Pitika.
  • Jalukia: A thick curry  of Colocassia leaves tempered maily with lots of black pepper. A must have for a new mother in the third/fifth day of child-birth , which said to have amazing pain relieving qualities.
  • Bhapot diya: Steamed veggies, fish and rice powder to make HAPOT DIYA : Fish or vegetables steamed with oil and spices.
  • Bor/Bora/: Different herbs are ground into paste and mixed with rice powder/besan with other spices and deep fried. Bhedailota, Narasing-har(curry leaves) pator bor, Mahor bor(pakoras made of Lentils) etc.
  •  Pora: Grilled vegetable or fish. Brinjal are literally burnt to make Pitikas. Others like potato, fish etc are kept in hot ashes for hours to get them slow-cooked.
  • Jol: Simple curry of vegetables or fish.
  • Pitha : Pitha means snacks preparations of  rice powder. Pithas are preparesd from Bora rice. 
  • Jalpaan: A typical Assamese breakfast is called Jalpan. But Jalpans are main attractions in festivals like Bihu and other occasions like marriage or community gatherings.
  • Guwa/Tamul-paan: Betel  leaf with Areca nut pieces and a stroke of lime paste which is called Tamol or Guwa. Die hard Tamol lovers also take a dash of tobacco called Mola Dhopat. Mola Dhopat has a pungent and refreshing smell. This finishes an Assamese meal. Other assortment of a typical Assamese tamol(paan) are chali and kohn which are some herbs, part of certain trees that works as mouth freshner.
    to be continued.

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