BOROR BILAHI TENGA – A DELICACY OF ASSAM
A Tomato based light curry with lentil dumplings.
Assamese cuisine is characterized by two main dishes, “khar”- an alkali dish and “Tenga”- a sour dish. Khar is served at the beginning of a meal and ends with Tenga, in a very traditional Assamese meal. Assamese cuisine is flavorful not because of spices, but because of use of more of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. In fact, the use of spices is very minimal. No traditional Assamese meal is complete without Tenga. Now “Tenga” here is a general term used for sour. There are various souring agent most locally found used for a “Tenga Anja”- a sour curry, like tomato, Thekera(mangosteen), lemon( kazi nemu- a local variety of lemon), Aou Tenga(elephant apple). Since, many of the souring agents that I have mentioned are not easily available outside Assam; I have used tomatoes, a basic and readily available ingredient all over the world for my dish. Though this dish is a favourite amongst all my friends and family throughout the year, but I feel this tangy refreshing simple vegetarian dish is perfect for the summers.
This soupy tomato curry with the soft delectable lentil dumplings immersed reminds me of wanton soup. So full of flavor that I don’t even need any accompaniments to go with it, in fact I can go on bowl after bowl of the curry alone.
Preparation time: 15 mins Cook Time: 1/2 hour Total Time: 45 mins
For lentil dumplings-
1) Soak half cup of masoor dal (orange lentil) or whole green moong dal. Green moong require overnight soaking but masoor dal just half hour is enough.
2) Grind the soaked dal along with a clove of garlic, green chilli, salt & a pinch of turmeric into a little coarse paste.
3) Now fry it into small dumplings/ vadi or pakoda size and keep it aside.
For the curry-
1) Heat 2 table spoon oil in a wok, add mustard seeds & cumin seed 1/2 a tsp of each and a whole dry red chilli.
2) Add 2-3 chopped tomatoes, stir for some time. Now add salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Mix well and cover with a lid and let it cook on low heat.
3) Once the tomatoes are done add 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Add sliced green chilies, a little sugar.
3) Add the fried lentil fritters into it, cover with a lid and allow it boil for couple of mins on low heat.
4) If u feel the curry is too thin you can add in a little mashed potato. U can add 1 table spoon lime juice for that extra tangy flavor.
5) Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
This dish could be altered by adding fish instead of lentil fritters, a perfect match with steam rice.