Growing up in a sleepy hamlet in far-flung Assam was bliss. In the sylvan lap of nature. By the lazy Kushiara.
Across the river was Sylhet, the land of my forefathers.
And it was largely Bengali cuisine that I grew up on.
Clean flavours, austere usage of spices, abundance of vegetables and local greens fresh from the kitchen garden and local farms and a bountiful profusion of freshwater fishes.
And then one sunny morning, a still teen-aged me bade farewell to the pristine life in my lazy time-stops-still hamlet by the river and took the long arduous bus trek via the emerald forests and mist-riddled hills of Meghalaya to Guwahati for further studies.
Guwahati. My home for the next several years. Guwahati introduced me to the seething Brahmaputra, the Lady at Kamakhya, the warm, loving, innocent Assamese people and exposed my palate to Assamese cuisine, simple, rustic yet delectable.
In my head, thoroughly understated in the pantheon of Indian cuisines.
And it wasn’t too long before I relished my Masor Tenga as much as I savoured my Maachher Jhol.
Haah aru Kumura Anja, duck curry with gourd, was explosion on my food senses.
And Dau jwng sobai jwng, a Bodo-style chicken curry with black lentils stole my heart away.
So when an old friend sent me a note enquiring about Assamese recipes in my blog, that I was embarrassed, is indeed an understatement.
The decision was made in a flash, it would be a week of cooking my favourite Assamese dishes, delicacies that I adore and relish, but ones that haven’t yet featured in my blog.
And what better than a sublime Mati Mahor Dali to start the week !!!
Mati Mahor Dali. Urad Dal. A splutter of panchforon. The heat of some wicked green chillies. The heady aroma of golden mustard oil.
That’s it !!!
Earthy and no-fuss. Yet divine.
Soul food for sure !!!!
Mati Mahor Dali (Split Black Gram / Urad Dal, Assamese Style)
- 1 cup split black gram or split urad dal
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp panchforan
- 2-3 dry whole red chillies
- 2-3 green chilies slit
- 3 tsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
- Soak the dal for 3-4 hours.
- Drain the water, cook the dal in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water. Just 1 whistle I would reckon. (Care needs to be taken that the dal does not become too mushy.) Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan, when smoking hot, add the paanchforon, red chillies and green chilies. Allow to splutter.
- Now dissolve the turmeric powder in a little water, add to the pan. Saute for a minute or so.
- Carefully pour in the boiled dal, bring to a simmer.
- Add salt. Check the consistency of the dal, it should not be too runny, neither too thick, if needed, add some warm water to get the consistency right.
- Serve hot with rice.