“Bihu Axomor jatiya utsov. Bihu tineeta…etc. etc.” This is how we used to start when tasked to write an essay on Bihu during our school days. Since I grew up in Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, though read and wrote essays on Bihu, could hardly relate to the traditional celebrations of rural areas. As this year’s Magh Bihu is almost upon us, the fond memories of the bygone days come flooding down. Those days, to me, festivals meant a break from the monotony of routine life; a really good one at that.
In the lovely cold month of January, I could sense the warmth of Magh Bihu, when Hari Kai and Deuta used to light bonfire in our backyard. Aata (grandfather) would be sitting over there, draped in warm clothes and the Endi Shawl wrapped around his torso; coziness overflowing!! Maa would bring some new baby potatoes for roasting in the cinders.
I could feel the festivities of Magh Bihu, when I saw Kachari Bazar by the bank of Brahmaputra, flooded with local produce, winter greens and veggies, different varieties of rice, sesame seeds, akhoi, muri(puffed rice), seera(beaten rice), khejur gur(date palm jaggery), fresh cream, yogurt etc. etc.
And then comes the much awaited feasting night of Uruka, the day before Magh Bihu. The kitchen counter top used to get filled with the freshest veggies, fish, meat, sweet yogurt and sweets. It was an almost impossible wait till evening. Ah! the excitement and anticipation. It used to go over the roof the moment my cousins and relatives arrive. The fire, the games, endless gossips and laughter and then finally the grand feast. Oh! I so miss those days.
And how can I forget the feeling of excitement as the festival draws near and Maa starts her preparation for making pithas. It used to be so much fun to accompany her to one of our neighbour’s house to grind the Bora Saul(a kind of sticky rice) in a Dheki (a traditional grinding tool).
And here I am reminiscing the good old days and trying the relive the magic of Uruka by preparing this killer of a dish!!
Til diya mansho or chicken and mutton cooked with black sesame paste is a typically Assamese preparation. Here I wanted to give a little makeover taking a traditional recipe to a gourmet menu.
How about that!
1200 gm chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 inches of ginger
4-5 green chilies
4-5 black pepper corns
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder or fresh turmeric paste
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp mustard oil
Salt to taste
- Drop all the ingredients into a blender jar and blend it into a fine paste.
- Marinate the chicken pieces with this paste along with 1 tbsp mustard oil. Season it with salt if needed and keep it aside for atleast 2 hours or overnight.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in a skewers on a baking sheet and brush with the remaining marinade and rest of the oil. Roast the chicken at maximum for 10 minutes, tgen lower the temperature to 200degrees and roast for 15 minutes or until done.
Pair it with your favourite chutney