Flavours of Assam – Kaji Nemu

One cannot help but fall in love with the flavours of Assam, the most loved being the Kaji Nemu (Assam lemon)! Travelling for long hours and stopping at bus-stop eateries, the best fun meeting spot of hikers, especially around Manas and Kaziranga, is like being home. And in these rural diners there is something oddly satisfying in squeezing Kaji Nemu on the hot rice and dali that is served up. It is the very anchor and wedge of the appetizing spread that is laid before you—from khar and sautéed greens to alu-pitika and fish anja/tenga. It is also the traveller’s ‘connect’ witha village—the prized tool of rural and culinary tourism.

As a custom in Assam, food is prepared as an expression of worship and served to guests as an offering that brings people together. Imagine then, the significance of the Kaji Nemu! Besides, the wedgesalso help in cleaning oily turmeric stains on the hands after a meal, adding fresh fragrance tothem. You then realize exactly why this oblong and elongated lemon received the GeographicalIndication Tag (GI) in 2020.

In rural Assam, farmers who are faced with floods, changing market demands, and wild elephantraids make sure to plant Kaji Nemu trees around their farmlands. It is a community-basedsolution since these trees act as elephant barriers, helping to reduce human-elephant conflict. So,the next time you visit Manas National Park, visit Kaji Nemu plantations nearby and the bi-weekly KajiNemu markets that are held on Mondays and Thursdays (5am. to 7am.) at Shanti Mandir Bojar, Gati. Also, on Sundays, the haat(weekly market) atBansbari in Manas is a special draw for photographers—with baskets and rows of the glisteningAssam lemon popping up between other colourful vegetables.

Indigenous to Assam, Kaji Nemu is the thread that weaves together gastronomical delights with culture, legend and sights. It helps create immersive experiences in many ways—from the humble Kaji Nemur Sorbot (Assam lemon juice) to Assamese-style Lemon Chicken. Finger-licking experiences indeed!

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