In this episode, we bring you the glorious and delightful world of the Tai Phake tribe from Assam. They are a small, lesser-known tribe that are settled in the Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts of Assam. An offshoot of the great Tai race, the Tai Phakes reached Assam in the later part of the 18th century. In order to explore their culture and tradition, we reached the Namphake village in the Dibrugarh district of Assam, which houses the largest Tai Phake population. It is a quaint village surrounded by a green cover.
On reaching there, we were impressed by the spick and span surroundings of the place. Here we met our host Nikya Kai who was a native of the village. He was a cheerful fellow who was going to take us on a tour of his village and acquaint us with his culture and tradition primarily through the lens of food.
First, we met his genial family and then gathered some information about their ancestry and their traditions over a cup of tea that is their main beverage. We then went to the kitchen to see the preparation of the meal that the family had planned for us. There we saw the special technique of preparation of rice. Then we moved on to prepare another traditional Tai Phake delicacy called Paasa. It is a fish stock prepared with grilled fish and some local herbs.
Till the meal got ready we went to Nikay’s brother in-laws place to know more about the community. There we had a fun time with all the family members. Soon it was dinner time and we returned to Nikay’s place for lunch.
The meal comprised of steamed rice, Paasa, roasted pork, fried fish, pork salad, peanut chutney, banana flower soup, and a few other things. It was a wholesome and nutritious meal for there was no or very little use of oil and spices. The Tai Phake people mostly eat boiled stuff. Meat and fish are mostly roasted or stir-fried. The food was very gratifying.
We are truly grateful to Nikay and his family for their warm hospitality.