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SRAVASTI DATTA
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EventMamata and Raja Talukdar offer authentic Assamese cuisine

Mamata and Raja Talukdar are all set to give Bangaloreans an Assamese treat. The duo has organised an exclusive Assamese dinner at The Ants Store. Passion and love for their culture inspired the couple to take time out of their busy schedules and pour their energy into feeding a hundred-odd people.

“No one here seems to know about our culture, heritage or cuisine,” says Mamata. Raja, the self confessed foodie, radiates with enthusiasm when I ask him what's listed on the menu.

“People often confuse Bengali cuisine for Assamese food. There is a big difference. Assamese food is less spicy than Bengali food,” says Raja. The Assamese use fewer spices and plenty of tejpata, herbs and green chillies. Also, Assamese food is healthy,” continues Raja, “It's low on oil and fat.”

I am told in detail about the various items generally eaten in an Assamese meal. Khar dishes are served first followed by dal, which is accompanied with fries of fish and vegetables. “Khar is a traditional ingredient made from by filtering water through the ashes of the banana tree,” explains the couple. Greens are an important part of an Assamese meal, so there are varieties of vegetable preparations. Masor tenga or fish cooked in tangy gravy, a popular dish, is served next. Pitikas or mashed preparations are important too. For dessert, millet kheer or payasam called Khoni Dhaanor Payox is a favourite.

Cooking for the Assamese is a community affair. No prior preparation is required before cooking a meal. “The cooking process itself is extremely elaborate. All the ingredients are put into the cooking pot. They blend and brew into one another,” explains Mamata.

As the conversation progresses, we speak of the various facets of Assamese culture. “Cooking is more of a ritual than an activity. In Assam, houses have separate buildings as kitchens. My in-laws are famous for treating people to food. The doors are always open, the kitchen fires burn constantly and people constantly flit in and out. No one leaves with an empty stomach. All of them are fed well.,” contends Mamata. Raja is a bigger foodie than Mamata. A proud Assamese at heart, Raja has been running a Punjabi restaurant in Indiranagar for 12 years. Mamata, on the other hand, quit her 16-year-old job in the telecom industry to turn to writing. The Assamese food festival will be held at the Ants Store tomorrow from 7.30 to 9.30 p.m. Due to limited food, one is requested to call and confirm their presence for the evening. The café will remain open for an hour beyond its usual closing time to accommodate patrons. For details call 9845469420.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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