Saturday, January 8, 2011

The tastiest meat

Pork is not PIG for gods sake! At least that’s what I would like you to believe in case you are a pork-hater and have landed on this blog per chance. I rate it the tastiest of all meat - buy that from me! I know its aficionados will be nodding earnestly in agreement. But as fate would have it, the man in my life from Mars, loathes pork – like he does Fish and Seafood and all exotic cuisine – just about EVERYTHING that makes my tongue drop out. So I do not cook pork or any of those not-tried-before cuisine unless there’s someone home I can truly share the gourmet’s kicks and nirvana with…like Ju, for example.

Jyotsna Kalita is my ex-roomie turn sister and she, along with her husband, are North East (NE) Indian cuisine experts. Her post-card sized kitchen (in Mumbai) is a treasure trove of the most exquisite ingredients from the kitchens of NE…dry fish, smoked pork, khar, bhoot jolokia, khorisa (grated bamboo shoot), kasundi (mustard paste), are the mouthful I can instantly recall. And this new year’s eve she treated me to one of the best pork concoctions I have ever had. Over to the ingredients and then the final product…

IMG_8855 Smoked pork IMG_8856

Meseka tenga (Hibiscus sabdariffa) to add a dash of sourness to the dish. It is a commonly used in Assam as sour-up dals (lentils). As a kid I would love the sweet-n-sour Meseka tenga jellies that my Mahi (aunt) would make. I am planning to import a plant for my pot garden. 


The celebrated Bhoot Jolokia aka Ghost Chilly aka the Naga Jolokia, reportedly the HOTTEST chilly in the WORLD - 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.


Bamboo shoot – another signature Assamese ingredient – popular in many Oriental kitchens


Dried peel of Hatkora nemu – a type of lemon endemic to hilly regions of NE – known for its strong fragrance.


One after the other all of it went into that pan (salt to taste, of course) to be boiled till dried. Just to jazz up things, she also added a table spoonful of powdered til (sesame / black).

The end-product was lip and finger licking, soul quenching…OK, it was awesome!  

The last time I truly savoured a pork recipe was at Coorg. To my surprise, pork is one of the non-veg staples of the Kodavas (Coorgi locals) and the one I had was cooked with black chana and an overdose (not being the spice fan) of pepper and garlic. I was down with cold and it was like the miracle drug. (Here’s Coorg Photo Blog:

As it might appear, pork is not really The Assamese staple meat per se. In fact, it’s never cooked at my home and I did not quite “discover it” till I joined college and lived in a hostel in Guwahati. As a gourmet delight, it wouldn’t be wrong to state that it’s still picking pace in the kitchens of Assam. 

Thank God I am a foodie – happiness comes in a platter :) 


Ann Dee

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