Right from the hills of Assam to the city of Hyderabad, Marriott Hyderabad is hosting a beautiful Assamese Pop-Up in association with Chef Kashmiri Barkakati Nath. I like the fact that Marriott is now experimenting with cuisines and delving into the unknown cuisines. With the Himachali Cuisine getting a platform the last time around, the Assamese food now gets a restaurant style arrangement with the “Khuwar Amez Louk” festival.
Assamese Cuisine has been slowly gaining much needed attention with people wanting to experiment with their palates. The cuisine is strongly influenced by ingredients which are readily available in the area while religion too has played it’s role. Lot of the cooking too involves food preservation and fermentation in their cooking.
The Assamese Food Festival at Bidri, Marriott Hyderabad features some amazingly delicious dishes. Honestly I had quite a gala time relishing each and every one of them with so much creative inputs that went into cooking by Chef Kashmiri. It is simple, homely and yet packed lots of flavors and complexity. The starter plate included quite a lot of variety.
The Luci, Aloo Bhaji and Bilahi Ambol is usually the food with which the Assamese welcome guests at a wedding. The potato subzi was cooked into mustard oil and topped with a sweet and tangy tomato chutney. The Bhaat Karela is a deep fried teasel gourd with the one served at the food festival, given a twist of stuffing it with mashed potatoes. The Maas Khorika is skewers of boneless fish, served with a side of fermented mustard dip. The bhoot jholokia (ghost chili) gets a simple makeover on the appetizer plate served as a dip with bamboo shoots and kukura khorika which is an Assamese style chicken skewers.
Pitha is an essential part of Assamese cuisines. These are snacks made using rice and come in various shapes and varieties. Many a festive occasions are celebrated by enjoying pithas on those days. Served on the appetizer plate at the Assamese Food Festival was the Anguli Pitha which is a savory finger-shaped rice flours which have been steamed and then fried.
Now once settled among conversations over the round of appetizers, I couldn’t wait to try the main courses. Served in a thaali, the main course at the Assamese Food Festival is humungous. It’s almost like a mini-Assam on a plate. Mixed a little of the Masoor Dal which had been cooked in bamboo shoots with the Joha Rice and it was pure heaven. It’s like I could leave everything aside at that moment and just have the rice and dal alone. The thaali also included Til Kukura, a preparation of chicken in sesame paste, Maangso Rongalou which is lamb cooked in a beautiful gravy with pumpkin and lots more.
There no denying the Assamese love for pitika which is generally a mash. Along with the Dal and rice I relished on the Aloo Pitika (Mashed Potatoes) and Bengena Pitika (Roasted Aubergines in mustard oil and chilis) and also the Xaak Bhaji made with the local greens found in Assam. The Kukura Aloo Kurma is a slow cooked chicken cooked in curd and is primarily a Muslim dish. The traditional Maas Tenga gets a Chef’s special twist of cooking it almost like a roulade. I’ve always loved the use of elephant apple in dishes. The elephant apple is a seldom used fruit which gives a tangy flavor and in my home was used to make a sour and sweet pickle. The Maas Tenga is cooked in a tomato and elephant apple gravy along with ridge gourd.
The pithas make a comeback in the dessert section too. Assam has a whole lot of varieties of Pithas and in the featured dessert is the Narikol Pitha having a coconut filling. The Komolar Kheer (Orange Kheer) and Kola Bora Sawal Paiyox (Black Sticky Rice Pudding) rounded off the rest of the dessert section.
Assamese food is simple and delicate. Considering the simplicity and also the relative exquisiteness of the cuisine, the Assamese Pop-Up is a must visit at Bidri is must visit.
The Food Festival is on for dinners only from 23rd to 26th June 2016.
You can also learn about many of the dishes on Chef Kashmiri’s Blog – Foodology By Kash.