By Purnima Chowdhury
In the past decade, Assam has gone up to be a melting pot of cuisine and culture. With the influx of people from other states and countries, Assam has developed a unique menu of street food that you will rarely see in the other part of the country. Assam’s street food culture has an influence of Tibetan, Burmese, and even Bangladeshi cuisine along with the indigenous assamese recipes.
You cannot have enough of the street food in Assam. Every city has at least one unique dish to offer. Every street food centre has its unique recipe which makes it different.
During my recent trip to Assam, I tried exploring the street food culture in Assam as much as possible. Though I know I couldn’t cover it all but I promise I have got you some of the best street food items that you must try in Assam and I bet you also can’t have enough of it.
So here’s the list of street food that I have tried in Assam and I suggest you too try it, in Assam and in Assamese style.
Keteli Pitha/Tekeli Pitha
This is an authentic dish of Assam and one of the cutest dishes I have noticed in Assam. A breakfast dish made with grated rice dough and Jaggery and sometimes coconut wrapped in a piece of cloth and then steamed by tugging the cloth in the lid of a kettle (hence the name) paired with piping hot Assam tea is a wholesome breakfast that you should try once with the splendid beauty of Assam.
Where to eat: Any of the small stalls with the breakfast setup. I liked it the most in Sivasagar.
Well momos are easily available around most parts of India but what makes the momos special here is the variety that you will find here. While other parts of the country is restricted to serving only vegetarian and chicken options, Assam has juicy pork momos that are a state favourite and a popular evening snack. Pork momos are both street food and fine dining experience, but the momos that you get in a roadside stall is unmatchable.
Where to eat: Foods Restaurant, Rehabari, Guwahati.
Now most of you might be familiar with chow mien or noodles but these are not the regular type of noodles that you find at a restaurant with those olive oil and oil free options. Let’s be honest, Street food is not very healthy and so are these noodle dishes. But then, these spicy hot noodles with an option of pork, chicken, vegetables, egg, and mixed options are lip smacking.
With close proximity to and strong Tibetan influence all over the region, it is no surprise that there are similarities in Assamese and Tibetan Cuisine. Delicate handmade noodles stir fried with fresh crispy vegetables and shredded meat or sea food, Chow mien can be easily found in every other street of the state.
Where to eat: Reboty Chaat house, Guwahati.
Tribals of Assam have some unusual food on their plates. One of them is the silkworm. Fried crispy with spices on the outside and soft and cheesy on the inside. This might seem weird to you if you haven’t yet tried it, but trust me you will love this dish if do not know what you are eating.
Where to eat: Authentic cuisine restaurants.
Every state of India has its own version of Jhal Muri and so does Assam. This hot, spicy, sweet and tangy mixture of puffed rice, nuts, boiled legumes, potato, herbs, green chilies, and sauces is a burst of flavours. I found the flavor and combination of the jhal muri here to be best in the Country, (even better than Kolkata). At these Jhal Muri stall you will also find a special type of aloo chat which is also worth giving a try.
You should not have any trouble finding Jhal muri around the state. Its popularity as an evening snack with the local tea almost reminds me of some custom being follwed. Served in paper cones and cheap as a bag of chips, you can easily find street vendors or hole in the wall shops all over.
Where to eat: Street stalls.
Phuchka, also known as Gol-gappa, Pani Puri and Gupchup in the other parts of the country is very famous. Every college has a Phuchka wala near the college gate. This hollow ball of fried dough, filled with a spicy stuffing made with a potato-chickpea mash dunked in really spicy tangy water made with tamarind pulp and jaljeera powder and infused with mint leaves with a dash of sweet chutney which is optional is mouth watering. Apparently, the name Phuchka came after the sound of bursting the hollow dough balls.
If you thought this was very basic and common then wait, there’s another version of Phuchka and that is called ‘Dry Phuchka’. Filled with spicy mashed potato and topped with sev, yogurt and sweet chutney, is a must try.
Where to eat: You will find it anywhere like Chaat shops, street stalls etc. But I would recommend the street stalls.
This is a popular street food and is found across the state. Crisp, flaky parathas wrapped with a spicy filling has everyone’s heart in it. Chicken, egg, mutton and pork are some of the many varieties found here.
Where to find: Reboty Chaat House, Guwahati.
Traditionally a Tibetan noodle soup, Thukpa has also become a traditional assamese street food or fast food dish. Fragrant with lemongrass and ginger, along with a hint of fish sauce, this Tibetan influenced noodle soup is full of flavours that melt into your mouth.
A meal in itself, served either vegetarian or with shredded chicken, pork or prawns, garnished with spring onion, fresh herbs, the variety of textures and flavours feed not only the body but also the soul.
Where to eat: Foods Restaurant, Rehabari
Although this name of the dish might sound weird but this is basically another version of fritters. These are small cutlet fritters or croquette served hot with muri, green chillies and sometimes with green chutney or ketchup and salads. It is close to aloo tikki but also made in non-vegetarian variety. Banana flower chop, vegetable chop are a must try.
Where to Eat: Talukdar Chaat House, Rehabari, Guwahati.
A flat bread made with refined flour and deep fried, served across the state by street vendors, hot and fresh, with vegetarian or non-vegetarian gravies. If you are in any of the commercial areas you are likely to come across these tiny stalls selling these hot and crispy luchi especially during the breakfast hours.
Where to eat: Any breakfast eatery.