Meal made in paradise

Iillustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Iillustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi  

At Jakoi, Assamese cuisine delights the palate without lightening the pocket

Once in a while, you have a meal that you remember for a long, long time. I am sure I am not going to forget the dinner I had at a new Assamese restaurant in town the other evening.

I'd heard that Jakoi, in Assam Bhawan on Sardar Patel Marg, had opened last week. And since I am very fond of Assamese food — which I occasionally get to eat at a friend's house — I promptly landed up there with friends and family. And what a time we had! The food was excellent, the ambience pleasant and the service efficient and cheerful. And that's not all — the prices were extremely reasonable.

Jakoi is a word for a fishing device that's used in Assam. And since fish figures prominently in the kitchens of Assam, it plays quite a role in Jakoi, the restaurant, too. There were four of us that evening, and two ordered something called Jakoi's Special Parampara Thaali. For Rs.350, it's a veritable steal — consisting of almost everything that you can think of. There were two fish dishes: one a tangy tenga fish (cooked with vegetables and lemon juice) and the other a steamed mustard hilsa. Then you had a choice between duck and pigeon curry. Then there were all kinds of vegetables, dals, appetisers such as khar (raw papaya and soda bicarb) and chutneys.

I asked for a vegetable platter — Assamese Vyanjan Thaali (Rs.180) — and this was again delicious. It had a paneer dish that it could have done without, but everything else was absolutely superb. I particularly liked the light masoor dal, the aloo pitika (mashed potatoes flavoured with mustard), the maahor bor (ground lentil balls) and okra cooked with onions. For dessert there was a nice kheer, but better still was a traditional dessert that came with the Parampara thaali. This consisted of puffed rice, different from the kind we get here (it's plumper and reddish in colour there), on which you poured a bit of thick cream, and then a generous helping of date palm syrup. This was out of this world.

We had a nice chat with the managing director, S.K. Bezbaruah, who explained many of the dishes to us. What saddened him was that he couldn't serve an Indian gooseberry (amla) soup and fish dish that Jakoi is known for. Much to his dismay, he has not managed to get any amla in Delhi. But the gentleman is most enterprising, and I am sure the dish will be back on the menu before you know it.

I ate something that I've never eaten before, and that was a pakora made out of the shiuli or the harsingar flower (sewali phulor bor, Rs.100). This had a lovely taste — bitter and sweet at the same time. Mr Bezbaruah has brought the dried flowers all the way from Assam. He wanted us to try out the til fish (Rs.165), but by then we had eaten so much that we couldn't take in another morsel.

But I have no regrets — for this is a restaurant that I am going to keep going back to. Jakoi is a branch of Assam's well-known Paradise group of restaurants. I am told that when you are in Guwahati, you have to have a meal at Paradise. To that I can happily add that when you are in Delhi, you must stop at Jakoi.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 6:54:55 AM |

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