Lunch at this grihasthi satra family home was a part of Textile and bio diversity trail organised by exotic echo.
In a NUtshell:
A wonderful lunch experience at a grihastra satra (someone’s home) with fantastic vaishnavite Satvik vegetarian food.
Address & other details: Contactexoticecho@gmail.com
Meal for 2: ₹300 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian, mostly Satvik
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The lunch was a part of the trail organised by exotic echo mentioned above. There is no fixed money for the food as this is not a restaurant. people usually pay ₹150 per person.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
The following section in italics is to set a backdrop. You can skip it if you only want to know about the food experience. However the backdrop is very interesting to know.
B4 I start the food story, lemme do a short introduction to the place – Majuli island in Assam is the largest inhabited river island in the world. In 1600s a group of people moved in here under the guidance of social reformer sankardeva, who set up centres of prayers and education. These Centers were called satra (pronounced hotro in Assamese language).
Lord vishnu is worshipped in the Satras and hence Vaishnavite tradition is followed here and also in most parts of the island. All food is cooked in Vaishnav tradition and hence it is vegetarian and there is usually no use of onion & garlic.
Each satra has a male head (satradhikar)and practising followers who live in the satra (bhakts) and general followers who lead a normal life outside the satra and regularly visit a satra (shishyas). For the bhakts Food is served in the satra and prayers and classes are conducted in the ‘namghar’ (prayer hall).
There are 3 kinds of satra – Mishra, udasin & Grihasthi
Misra – the satra head cannot marry but others can.
Food – largely vegetarian (vegan) , No meat but fish is ok occasionally.
Udasin – all satra members (male only) are Celibate. All men grow long hair, are always clean shaved and over time many of them develop an effeminate way of movement. They behave as if they are wife of lord vishnu. They are strictly Satvik vegetarian (no onion, no garlic).
They also do dance and yoga based prayers and performances. See some pics and videos below.
Grihasthi – whole family lives in the satra – man woman child. For them Fish is ok but meat is eaten very occassionally.
For lunch , We went to a boha (residence of a vaishnavite follower) of Shri Shri Bengenaati satra), which is a grihasthi satra.
It was a brick house in the village. We entered the house thru a balcony, followed by a drawing room that had sofas and then a dining cum living room, kitchen, wash area and washrooms all one after the other, in a line.
The washrooms were so clean. The wash area had a hand pump to draw ground water. Water was also stored in buckets for hand wash. Our hosts offered to our water while we washed our hands. I was touched.
The dining room had a dining table with 6 chairs and also a bed on one side.
The two ladies who cooked lunch for us were artists of the kitchen. As I write this post 2 days later, I am Still salivating.
It takes a huge amount of skill and passion to come up with such brilliant food made from humble day to day ingredients. However must say that most of the ingredients used were grown in the island and hence fresher that what we buy in large metros. I was told that organic farming also happens in the island.
Both the ladies were very warm and made us feel very comfortable. We could not have a long conversation with them as they were a bit shy.
Loved eating out of those heavy, hand made kansa metal plates.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
As per the tradition of this blog, we will be rating the dishes and publish an overall rating by averaging the individual ones. Reason I am putting the rating is to let you benchmark with the yummraj rating scale.
However the real memory that this experience created is way beyond rating and was priceless.
The rice we were served was a local produce and is called sali saul. We were told that this rice is Good for day time, one does not feel sleepy after having it, as compared to Red rice which causes sleepiness.
The Yellow dal with tangy au (elephant apple) was brilliant. The tanginess was perfect – did not cross the limit and make the daal sour. The flavour of daal was beautifully expressed. Minimal tempering. No external flavors like ghee etc. Super simple yet YUMM. Rate it 4.75/5
Super loved the Kali daal with local veggies, mainly gourds of different kinds. So simple , thin, watery, not cooked overnight, yet delicious, full of flavors and has a distinct character of its own. Rate it 4.5/5.
Mixed vegetable curry was made with knol knol (like gaanth gobi /ol kopi), gourds , pumpkin, potato, brinjal, cauliflower etc. excellent again. The veggies retained their respective textures, yet overall they came along together well. Rate it 4.5/5
Fried beans was a revelation. I never had this before. Super texture, juicy and real yumm to taste. Rate it 4.75/5
Fried pointed gourd (potol) was made from young veggies. This time of the year it is unusual to get such good potol. Perfectly seasoned and perfect fried. Rate it 4.25/5
Fried aubergines (made from the narrow ones that grow in this part of the country) had the perfect seasoning and were excellent. The right amount of frying made the outer layer slightly crisp while keeping the inner part super soft. Rate it 4.5/5
Aloo pithika with jolpai (Indian olives) and chillies was very nice too. It was mashed potatoes with the other two ingredients. Jolpai gave a tangy angle to it and chillies gave it the right amount of hot twist. Rate it 4.25/5.
Overall rating of food here averages out to 4.5/5
Acknowledgement : most of the info about majuli and its history and culture had been received in person and also thru documents shared by Mr. Jahnu Boruah, an expert on majuli (firstname.lastname@example.org).