Eating in Tea Country

Though Assam is known for its tea, the food is not to be missed

James Roper

I have lived in Assam my whole life. It may be best known for its tea, but its food is also exquisite. Central to Assamese identity is tenga aanja, sour fish curry (bottom right)—an invigorating lunch on hot summer days or the finale to elaborate dinners. The banana tree figures into many dishes, such as patot diya maach, fish roasted in banana leaf (top right), and koldilere rondha paro manxo, pigeon with banana flower (bottom left). We even use the trunk, burning it down to alkaline ashes to make an ingredient called kolakhar. It adds zip to khar, a class of starter dishes, including posolar khar, a banana stem stir-fry (middle left). The region is also filled with bamboo, which is worked into baanhgajor lagot gahori, pork belly with fermented bamboo (middle right) a tribal specialty. My favorite dish, however, is a family one: aitar manxor aanja, my grandma's mutton curry (top left).