The food habit of a region reflects its culture and traditions to quite an extent. The same holds true for the cuisine of Assam as well, which has its own style and pattern, quite distinct from the rest of the country as well as the other northeastern states. The traditional food of Assam comes across as a blend of many exotic spices, herbs and condiments. Oil is used in small volumes and there is a strong influence from the cuisine of certain Southeast Asian countries as well.
The staple food of Assam is rice, which is consumed in a variety of ways. Whether taken as steamed rice, poita (cooked rice soaked overnight) garnished with mustard oil and onions or Komal Saul (soaked with milk), rice is used in the everyday meal of the native people. During special occasions like Bihu, a special type of rice preparation called Pithas is made. The different varieties of Pithas include Ghila pitha, Til pitha, Sunga pitha, Tekeli pitha, Bhapotdiya pitha, Tora pitha, Kholasapori pitha & Xutuli pitha.
Served in bell metal utensils called Kahor Thal, a typical Assamese meal comprises of steamed rice, taken with Khar anja (a dish made of raw papaya), a variety of Pitikas (mashed potatoes, brinjal or tomatoes), Tenga - a type of sour curry (which may be fish tenga or simple vegetable tengas) along with kahudi, kharoli and khorisa (bamboo shoots).
Non- Vegetarian Items
Among the non vegetarian items that form a part of the Assamese cuisine, the favorites are chicken, pigeon, duck and fish - the most popular varieties being Rohu, Hilsa, Puthi and Chital. Hukoti, a dish made of small dried fish, is also a hot favorite among the native people of Assam. Pork and beef dishes are favorites among some tribes in Assam. The mainstream Assamese Hindus usually do not take beef or pork.
The state of Assam is famous all over the world for its tea production. Assam tea is known for its strong malty flavor and bright color. The state produces both the first and second flush tea and is particularly famous for its second flush, which produces black tea with golden tips. Whether served as black tea, lemon tea or the common milk tea, Assamese tea is very refreshing and forms an indispensable part of the cuisine.
A wide variety of vegetables are used in the Assamese cuisine, commonly called Xaak in the local dialect. A list of such vegetables has been given below