Rongali Bihu will be celebrated the world over by the Assamese community on Sunday 15th April. Rongali Bihu is one of three major cultural festivals from Assam, the North Eastern state of India from where my family originates. This festival marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the harvest season with a wide range of festive treats including Til’or Pitha and Narikol’or Laru (do try out the recipes for these by clicking here).
But today’s post is not going into depth about Bihu. Proudly Assamese, I wanted to take advantage of this upcoming special occasion and share a beautiful piece of Assamese folklore with you. Every culture has treasured ‘hand me down’ fairytales that have been whispered down generations, and the Cinderella-style struggle story that has a prominent part in Assamese story-telling is that of Tejimola.
In a market submerged with brands, only a few stand the test of time. And then there are those that manifest a sense of patriotism by embedding themselves into their adopted home of the Middle East. Such brands are as rare as precious gems, and the one that tops my list has to be Ajmal Perfumes.
With a history dating back to 1950, I have a special connection with this brand as like me, Ajmal Perfumes roots back to Assam, the North Eastern state of India.
Hello darlings! If you are a UAE resident, please grab a copy of this week’s Ahlan Masala! magazine, and look me up on page 55 🙂
You can also read the online version by clicking here.
When exploring a city, I like to take to the streets like a local. Sure, a fancy hotel stay is a much-needed rejuvenating treat but I had under 24 hours to backpack around Guwahati, the capital city of Assam (North East India) and ofcourse it involved a major eatathon!
Guwahati is a maddening chaos. The streets are jam-packed with traffic, hawkers and bystanders.
We walked through its streets this monsoon-laden Monday. The air is hot and muggy, and the humidity shrouds the body with a permanent layer of perspiration, making my flimsy cotton t-shirt stick on like a second skin.
My father in-law has a very endearing caretaker who originates from the Garo Hills. Swing is a short, middle-aged man with a rather muscular stature and a deep, dark chocolate-brown complexion, and has been a part of this family ever since I married into it. Yes, his name is Swing! Given his fondness for the bottle and a very jovial disposition, this name seems pretty apt for him. Sparse teethed yet ever-smiling, Swing has formed a special friendship with my daughter who he last saw as a 2 year-old. My daughter does not speak any Indian regional languages, and Swing has very limited use of the English tongue. Yet the other afternoon, I saw him sitting there trying to tell her a story in colloquial Hindi.
Always keen on hearing some regional-style storytelling myself, I sat down to listen and offered to be the translator between the two. Swing narrated the story of Gangbo Raja, a folktale that has been passed down generations in the Garo Hills.
Black Rice is an exotic, healthful alternative to ordinary white rice. It is high in fiber, and has a beautifully nutty aftertaste. You might have noticed the Black Rice Pudding I had at Thiptara in my Instagram feed, it gave the traditional Thai Sticky Rice & Mango Pudding a delicious upgrade!
I discussed this with my sister in-law, Sharmin Pasha (you met her earlier here). Sharmin is the creator of the very popular Facebook page Assamese Cuisine and Recipes. This is a page dedicated to the indigenous cooking styles of Assam, the North Eastern state of India from where my family and I originate.
I was under the impression Black Rice is only used in Thai cooking. Sharmin tells me it is just as popular in the North Eastern regions of India, even beyond Assam. Today’s article is a guest post by Sharmin Pasha. Read on about the fascinating attributes of Black Rice, the ‘forbidden food’, and try out Sharmin’s Black Rice recipes (two are traditional Assamese recipes that would be perfect for the upcoming Assamese Bihu festival. The other is an innovative take on the traditional Thai Mango & Sticky Rice Pudding, and the fourth is a traditional Manipuri Black Rice Bread to enjoy with a piping hot cup of tea!).
My family originates from Assam, the North Eastern state of India. You might have heard of Assam if you’re a serious tea drinker. Or perhaps you’ve heard of our one-horned rhinos or the world’s hottest chili, the ‘Bhoot Jolokia’. Assam also boasts of having Asia’s oldest oil refinery. Like every state of India, Assam is seeped in its own unique set of cultures and traditions.
Bhogali Bihu festivities are in the air. This is the festival of feasting and marks the end of the harvest season. Assamese households get busy preparing traditional Bihu treats and socializing with friends and family.
I am a total novice when it comes to Assamese cooking. Meet Sharmin Pasha. Sharmin created the very popular Assamese Cuisine & Recipes page on Facebook and has over forty-thousand fans worldwide. Needless to say, she is an authority in Assamese cooking. She also happens to be my sister-in-law (my hubby’s only sibling)!