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Assamese tribal food pop-up comes to Kolkata

By The Assam Tribune

KOLKATA, Jan 14 (IANS): Sticky rice, bamboo shoots and the notoriously hot 'bhut jolokia' chilly pepper: The first Assamese tribal food pop-up in the eastern metropolis promises to be a true gastronomic adventure through the hills of the northeastern state.

Presented by Gitika Saikia, a Mumbai-based northeast food curator who hails from Assam's Sonowal Kachari community, the three hour-long pop-up on January 31 will make you step out of your comfort zone.

"These are not your basic jeera-dhaniya (cumin-coriander) based dishes. So, please come with an open mind," Gitika told IANS over the phone on Thursday.

A mix of Sonowal and Bodo cuisine, the pop-up comprises four sections: On arrival drink, mains, accompaniments and desserts.

On arrival, black tea will be served with homemade pithas (rice cakes) and in mains, vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are on the menu.

Take your pick from 'Lai Xaak Gahori' (a pork dish), Guti Alu Aru Tita Phool Bhaji (baby potatoes stir-fried with red bitter flowers), Til Maas (a thick gravy dish of river fish cooked in black sesame with a hint of herbs) and Hukan Khorisa, Masala Paat Bhut Jolokia Gahori (a dry preparation of pork with smoked bamboo shoot, bhut jolokia and Arunachali herbs).

For chicken lovers, there is the Rongalau Murgi (tender pieces of chicken cooked with ripe pumpkin to perfection) while Lau Khar (bottlegourd and masur dal cooked with organic alkali and flavoured with Assamese coriander) fulfills the need for lentils.

The pop-up offers two rice options: Bhat (steamed plain rice) and Tupula Bhat (sticky rice). Treat yourself to Kola Bora Payokh (black sticky rice pudding cooked in thickened milk) for some sugary indulgence.

But make sure to taste the accompaniments: Misa Maas Aru Bhut Jolokia Chutney (shrimps Bhut Jolokia chutney) and homemade bamboo shoot pickle. Bhut Jolokia is one of the world's hottest chilly pepper.

"The kind of food I am curating for Kolkata is exotic and not super-exotic (duck meat) which is in demand in Mumbai. This is an introduction to Assamese tribal food and I want to see how people react in Kolkata," Gitika said, clarifying the food one tastes in cities like Guwahati is more urbanised and not the authentic tribal delicacies.

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