By SAMHITA BAROOAH
Guwahati is emerging to be a food capital of world cuisine in Assam. New year is a good time to take stock of the old tastes and the new flavours of the month. It is a paradise for food lovers of all denominations. Some of my all time favourites which provides the comfort food defining the essence of the city are chicken rolls at J-14, momos at silk route, Chinese cuisine at China town and Chung fa, Assamese thali at Paradise, Hilsa Fish Curry and Joha Rice at Maa Manasha Hotel in Pandu, Chicken Patties and pastries at Eggs O tic, South Indian food at Woodlands, Unlimited Marwari Thali at Fancy Bazar, Naga food at CBCNEI canteen, Smoked pork at Naga Kitchen, Biryani at Sunflowers, Slice of Heaven and Food Ex, Pizza and Continental Food at (erstwhile) Pizzeria, Puri and sabji, kachori at Uzan Bazar Morning Shop which is open only till 7.30am.
Some favourite during the 90s were Goja and nimbu chai at Cotton College Canteen, Rolls at Feeds Pan Bazar, Chow at Reboti, Sweets at Gauhati Dairy, Queens cake and stuffed parathas at Shaikh Brothers, street food in front of Cotton college, Indian delights in The Dhaba, Momos at Momo ghar and Ambees. Such flavours are slowly fading in this city of possibilities devoured by world chains and fast food joints popping at every corner of the city. Even pan was a favourite cuisine in Ambari pan shops which served pan in style. Mishtimukh in Ulubari, Jagadamba in Silpukhuri, Rookman Sweets in Fancy Bazar were some of the old time sweet shops catering to the city’s sweet flavours. Birthdays and parties were incomplete without bakery items from Diamond Bakery, Kamrup Bakery, Shaikh Brothers, Lakhi Cabin and Eggs-O-Tic. Popularity of food joints in Guwahati was through word of mouth communication, proximity from home, schools, colleges and workplaces and most importantly due to company of friends and family. Sometimes we also enjoyed promoting the budding food entrepreneurs who happened to be from the family and friends’ circles as well.
In recent years some tastes have remained with me worth mentioning for the New Year cheer. Assamese Fish Tenga, Pork with bamboo shoot and Aromatic Joha Rice at Delicacy, Maihang and Khorika, Afghani Chicken and Shawarma rolls at Grill Republic, Shami Kebab Rolls at Little Chef, Kebabs of all kinds at Mughal Garden, Veg momos at Kiranshree, Chicken Quiche at Fab India Cafe, Chicken Voluvent and Mini Brownie at Loyans, Momos and meal combos at Hotpot, Idli, dhokla and sweets at JBs, Sitaphal Ice cream at Naturals, Dahi puchkas at Mirch Masala, Jalebi at Rookmans and Kanha Sweets, Chocolate Coconut barfi at Gokul Sweets, Moroccan Mint tea with hummus and pita breads at Mocha, Chocolate Waffle at Fab India Cafe, Tuna Sandwich and momos at Brown Bean Cafe, Dal Makhni at Three Guys Restaurant, Filter Coffee, idli platter and pav bhaji at Dosa Plaza, Bengali Food at Kasturi, 16 Ballygunj and O Maago, Continental delights at Ziya and Terra Maya, Cup cakes and Baked Savoury at The Bakehouse, Spinach Corn Sandwiches at Repose, Chinese soups, egg wrapped rice and any veg or non veg main course with caramel walnuts at Red Pepper Hot Chilli, Railway Mutton Curry, Dab Chingri and Assamese delights at Ambrosia and very recently flavourful aromatic tea, tuna sandwiches and amazing host at Back Bencher’s Cafe, Rajgarh Link Road.
Some food places are more memorable for their ambiance, location and sense of space. The Zouk Cafe in Beltola, Mocha, Mother’s Love, Red Pepper Hot Chilli, The Bakehouse, Eggs-O-Tic -The Pastry Shop, Maihang, Crackling Mustard, Cafe Coffee day at Housefed and Dighalipukhuri, Leaves and Weaves at The Guwahati Address, Shanghai Salsa, Terra Maya, Strawberry Fields, Frequency, Fab India Cafe, Alfresco, Green Wood Resort, Food Villa.
All these places have interesting menus and price charts which fluctuate yearly. Some have been experimental with flavours, some with the items and very few with their location. Gourmet cuisines are also delightful in the regular restaurants inside the major hotels like Pragati Manor, Landmark, Gateway Grandeur, Radisson Blu, Taj Vivanta and Brahmaputra Ashok in Guwahati city but such places cater to a few. I am happy that variety is the spice of life and Guwahati has a range of aromas to offer apart from the latest craze of multi-national brands like Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway and Dominos which dominate branded, mono-cultured food tastes at reasonable rates with year round offers for all pockets.
Rather an early morning tea, kettle pitha on the roadside, samosas and patichapta sweets with tea near Latasil, rice meal near Kharguli for Rs 40 and momos from the mobile vans, handi biryani and pakoras from the roadside, chana, muri, peanut and bhutta from every nook and corner, home cooked comfort food from small nameless joints actually fuels Guwahati everyday with the thrills of a city. Hope this New Year finds you with good food, authentic flavours and awesome taste till then let me dig into my morsel of crunchy cuisine.