[Assam] Masor tenga Anja

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at charter.net
Tue May 29 19:32:48 PDT 2007

Ram, Ram, Ram. Tumi ki eibwr maasor xaanmiholi korila-he'?

Catfish is the equivalent of maagur maas, but not really. It is more 
like 'aanri maas'. Tilapia is like a humongous 'bheseli maas' or a 
monster cousin of 'kaawoi maas'. Nothing like 'row maas'.


At 7:53 PM -0600 5/29/07, Ram Sarangapani wrote:
>This past weekend, I had this "immediate must"  to have masor tenga 
>anja (we were at the grocery store). She told me OK, go get the 
>fish. The choice was between Tilapia or Catfish. So, I got a couple 
>of pounds of Tilapia (on previous occassions, I always thought the 
>catfish was always a better option). But the Tilapia was not a bad 
>choice. I don't know the Assamese equivalent for Tilapia, but the 
>catfish is the rohmas. I think the Tilapia is magur mas.
>As usual, I relish the dish. The downside is the tendency to overeat 
>(several helpings). I came across this 5 course meal as described 
>(beautifully) by someone. The tenga anja, we had, had some potatoes 
>and the tenga is usually from tomatoes (I am guessing here) and not 
>the lemon (as per the recipie here).
>Anycase - just wanted readers to think something pleasant :)
>Tuesday, April 3, 2007
>So, the day I left Assam, my grandmother asked me what I wanted for 
>lunch. Since I like most everything, I hemmed and hawed, not wanting 
>to make life hard for her, but eventually sacked up and requested 
>the following Assamese feast. Unfortunately, I was to busy stuffing 
>myself to take pictures, but here's an attempt at description:
>First course: Poita Bhat with Mitha Tel and Khorisa (Fermented rice 
>with mustard oil and bamboo shoots).
>This is Assamese comfort food. You take some cooked parboiled rice, 
>cover it with water, and soak it overnight in a cool, dark place. 
>The fridge actually works fine. This ferments it, and gives it an 
>interesting sweet/sour flavor. Drain it, and the mix it with mustard 
>oil and salt, and bamboo shoots to taste. Mustard oil is incredibly 
>pungent, and this is definitely not for everyone. Serve the mixture 
>with a hot green chili and raw salt on the side. Bite into the 
>chili, eat a little salt, and then eat a little of the rice mixture. 
>It's a very loud, very ethnic party in your mouth.
>Second course: Masor Mur with Bengana (Fish head curry with baby eggplant).
>I actually have very little idea what spices went into this to make 
>it so delicious. I know fish heads scare people, but they are 
>delicious. Interesting texture, great flavor. I'm going to guess 
>there was some onion/garlic (but just a little), salt, and sugar.
>Third course: Dayal Bhat and Xak Bhaji (Rice and lentils with a side 
>of stir-fried greens).
>The X is Xak should be pronounced like an incredibly soft H. I have 
>no good idea how to transliterate this, but this is relatively 
>standard. Dayal = the Assamese word for Dal. This was a nice, simple 
>Dal, just some onions, cumin, cilantro, and turmeric. No cream, no 
>butter. Light, and very flavorful. I'll post an approximate recipe 
>The stir fried greens are of note because the incredible variety of 
>greens that one can obtain in Assam is just fantastic, and all have 
>subtly different flavors. By cooking them very lightly, you can 
>really appreciate these differences. I know the Assamese name for 
>many of them, but not the English. Some example of the English ones 
>I do know: Mustard greens, radish greens, collard greens, bok choy 
>(ok, not English, but god knows, familiar to this audience), clover 
>(!). Though, to be fair, clover usually goes into soups.
>Fourth course: Masor Tenga (Lemon-tomato soup with fish).
>I could rhapsodize about Tenga Anja (literally, sour soup) for ever. 
>It is the signature dish in Assamese cuisine, a delicately flavored 
>broth with lemon, tomatoes, and cilantro, that comes in a thousand 
>variations. It's also incredibly easy to make. I will post 
>instructions soon.
>The beauty of it is that you can put almost anything in it. People 
>put in potatoes to add body to the thin broth, or greens to add 
>flavor. Squash or zucchini goes well to absorb flavor. Fried lentil 
>dumplings are another traditional favorite (this variation is called 
>bor diya tenga, bor = dumplings).
>But my absolute favorite is masor tenga (mas = fish). The heart of 
>Assam is the Brahmaputra river, and the capital city, Guwahati, is 
>right on the river. Thus, each morning, vendors come by 
>house-to-house selling freshly caught river fish. This fish, cut 
>into relatively small (2"x2") bone-in pieces, is lightly 
>shallow-fried with salt and turmeric rubbed in before being immersed 
>in the broth. The result is just incredible.
>Fifth course: Doyi Bhat with Gur and Kol (Yogurt rice with jaggery 
>and banana).
>In both of the cultures that I come from (Tamil and Assamese), 
>yogurt and rice is eaten at the end of each meal. However, in south 
>India it's eaten with a salty and spicy pickle of some sort, while 
>here, in Assam, it's eaten with gur (basically, brown sugar in big 
>chunks) and bananas, almost as a proto-dessert. I like it both ways. 
>And since I was in Assam, I followed the sage advice of Ron 
>Burgundy: "When in Rome...".
>Posted by jsa at 
>Labels: <http://www.scrumptulescence.com/search/label/India>India, 
><http://www.scrumptulescence.com/search/label/travel> travel
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