Massor Dailor Boror Tenga| Assamese Sour Curry With Potatoes And Lentil Dumplings

When the Shhhhh Cooking Challenge group that I am part of finalised ‘Assamese cuisine’ as the theme for this month, I couldn’t help being all excited. I would be getting the opportunity to cook the simple yet hearty food that I enjoyed at Guwahati, during our trip to North-East India earlier this year!

For the challenge, I was paired with the talented Veena, who blogs at Veena’s Veg Nation. She assigned me one secret ingredient – potatoes – and asked me to use any other ingredients that I wanted to. After a bit of reading up, I decided to make Massor Dailor Boror Tenga, an Assamese sour-tasting curry with potatoes and lentil (masoor daal) dumplings. This sweet girl helped me with an authentic recipe for the tenga, which I customised a bit to suit my family’s taste buds, also keeping in mind locally available ingredients. And, everyone at home loved it to bits too! This is a recipe for keeps, for sure, and I’m sure I’ll be making this again in the times to come. The curry isn’t very tough to make and is, yet, so very flavourful!

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For the uninitiated, ‘tenga‘ refers to any sour-tasting curry served as part of an Assamese thali. Garcinia indica (kokum) or thekera (the Assamese name for mangosteen) are the most commonly used souring agents, while some people are also known to use tomatoes, tamarind and lemon juice instead. The tenga is seasoned with ‘pas phoron‘ (the Assamese name for panch phoron, a pungent mix of five spices that is commonly used in Bengali, Oriya and North-Eastern cooking).

Here’s how I made the massor dailor borar tenga.

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the masoor bora:

  1. 1/2 cup split masoor daal
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. 2 dry red chillies
  5. Red chilli powder, to taste
  6. Oil, as needed for deep frying the bora

For the tadka:

  1. 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  2. 2 dry red chillies
  3. 2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)
  4. 1/4 teaspoon mustard (rai)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  7. 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  8. 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)

Other ingredients:

  1. 6 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 3 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. Lemon juice, to taste
  5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. Red chilli powder, to taste
  7. Salt, to taste
  8. 1-1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon gram flour (besan)
  10. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves

Method:

First, we will make preparations for the bora.

  1. Wash the masoor daal well under running water.
  2. Soak it in just enough water to cover it, for about 1/2 hour.

Now, we will prep the veggies that will be needed.

  1. Chop the potatoes into halves. Pressure cook them for 5 whistles. When the pressure has released completely, let the potatoes cool down and then peel them. Mash roughly. Keep aside.
  2. Chop onions finely. Keep aside.
  3. Chop coriander finely. Keep aside.
  4. Keep the lemon juice handy.

Now, get the bora ready.

  1. After soaking, discard all the excess water from the masoor daal. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder and dried red chillies. Grind coarsely in a mixer, without adding any water.
  2. Heat oil in a pan till it smokes. Then, lower the flame and drop little balls of the masoor daal mixture into the hot oil, a few at a time. Deep fry evenly, and transfer the balls onto a plate. Keep aside.

Now, we will prepare the masoor borar tenga.

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel, dried red chillies and the asafoetida. Let the mustard pop.
  2. Add the chopped onions. Fry on medium flame till they turn brownish. Take care to ensure that they do not burn.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, along with a little salt and water. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.
  4. Now, add the mashed potatoes, along with about 1 cup of water. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, turmeric powder and sugar. Mix well. Cook on medium flame till everything is well incorporated together – 3-4 minutes.
  5. Mix the gram flour in about 2 tablespoons water, ensuring that there are no lumps. Add this mixture to the pan.
  6. Now, add the masoor bora. Mix well. Let everything cook together for 1-2 minutes more, on medium flame. Switch off gas.
  7. Mix in lemon juice to taste and finely chopped coriander leaves. Serve immediately with rotis.

Notes:

  1. I used refined oil to fry the bora and mustard oil to make the gravy.
  2. I used orange split masoor daal to make the bora.
  3. If you have panch phoron ready, use it in the garnish. I didn’t have any, so I used mustard, nigella seeds, cumin, fenugreek and fennel separately.
  4. Traditionally, this dish is made with a mix of bottle gourd (lauki) and mashed potatoes. I did not use bottle gourd, keeping my family’s taste preferences in mind.
  5. Kokum (garcinia indica) or thekera (mangosteen) is traditionally used in this curry, for sourness. Some people, however, also use tomatoes and lemon juice for the purpose. I didn’t have any kokum and, hence, used tomatoes and lemon juice as the souring agents.
  6. Using sugar is purely optional. Omit it if you want to, but I personally think it adds a nice depth of flavour to the curry. You can use jaggery powder instead, too.
  7. Add more water to the curry while cooking, if you think it is getting too thick.
  8. The masoor bora soak up all the liquid from the curry, making it quite thick. Hence, it is crucial that you serve the curry immediately after making it.
  9. The gram flour mixed in water acts as a thickening agent for the curry. If you feel the curry is thick enough as is, you can skip adding the gram flour.
  10. Traditionally, this curry is kept quite watery, with just one mashed potato mixed into the gravy for thickness. I kept the curry slightly thick because I was planning to serve this with rotis. My curry is also on the thicker side considering the addition of besan and the fact that I made this curry entirely with potatoes.

I’m loving how this challenge is taking me places, quite literally!

Did you like the sound of this dish? I hope you will try this out too, and that you will love it as much as we did!

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “Massor Dailor Boror Tenga| Assamese Sour Curry With Potatoes And Lentil Dumplings

  1. I was tempted to try out this dish , just by looking at your beautiful presentation and photography..and after reading the recipe and your notes I just can’t wait to try out this curry..best part is that I have kokum alsoπŸ˜ƒ

    Like

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