Bilahir Tok

While we are here in the NE region, lets take a peek into the neighboring state of Assam. This state has a special place in my life as I spent 4 1/2 years of my childhood in this state. I confess I cannot talk about the life there like a pro, but I do have certain distinct recollections of our stay there. But keep in mind that my memories are more than 30 years old.

We used to live in a Cement Corporation Of India colony in a city/village called Bokajan in Assam. This place was so remote that I remember my mom used to go to the nearest city of Dimapur, Nagaland, for all the groceries once a month in a company vehicle. There used to be a weekly farmer's market in the vicinity of our colony which took care of our vegetable needs. 

My brother and I used to go to school in Dimapur, Nagaland, which was an experience in itself. I shall write more about our schooling when we visit Nagaland in a few days :).

Most of the native tribes there have looms in their houses and they traditionally weave saris called Mekhla, once in a year for their New Year, Bihu. Bihu, reminds me of their traditional Bihu dance which is a sight one cannot forget!! As a child I clearly remember my brother and I used to crave for the Vegetable Khichdi which used to be served as Prasad in a container fashioned out of a plantain trunk, in the neighboring temple we used to visit. 

I also remember my mom telling us that there was never a single sighting of crows in the area. Apparently crow meat is a delicacy and the crows are almost never found there. But we once visited a bird sanctuary in Sibsagar (Shivsagar) where the crows were unusually huge with a wing span of about 3 feet.  We were told that those crows were the only ones in the whole of Assam!

My mom recollects that the natives never had fear of robberies in their neighborhood and most of them never locked their homes either. Also each house was separated by vast lands and every house/cottage had a small pond where they cultivated their own fish.  They are extremely hard working people and have strong communal bonds. 

Their marriages are performed by a very simple assembly of all the people in a community sitting together and the bride and bridegroom picking each other willingly with no restrictions as to the dowries or other financial issues.

Now after writing down my memories, I am tempted to make some Vegetable Khichdi and some Bilahir Tok (Bilahi = Tomato, Tok = Sour) for my lunch today. Apparently this sweet, sour and spicy accompaniment is made on most of the festivals and important occasions. Go ahead and drool over the Bilahir Tok while I plan our next trip to the state of Bihar. See you there tomorrow!!

Recipe Source - here
Ingredients - 

Tomato, chopped 1 1/2 cups
Onion, chopped 1/2 cup
Salt as needed
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf 1 
Dry Red Chillies 2-3 
Pas Phoran (Equal quantities of each of these - Fenugreek seeds, Nigella seeds, Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds, Fennel seeds) 1 tsp
Jaggery, powdered 2 tsp (or as needed)
Mustard Oil 1 Tbsp (I used Olive Oil instead)

Bilahir Tok

Method Of Preparation -

Heat oil in a pan. Add the Pas Phoran, bay leaf and red chillies.

Add the onions and saute until they are translucent and add in the tomatoes. 

Sprinkle turmeric and salt. Mix well, cover and cook until the mixture becomes mushy.

Add the jaggery and mix well until it dissolves and the mixture is neither too thick nor too runny.

Remove from heat and serve with Vegetable Khichdi / rice / roti.

Preparation Time 15 min
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Posted by Harini R on Thursday, April 3, 2014


  1. Unknown Says:
  2. Looks delicious!!

  3. Kalyani Says:
  4. Loved reading the nostalgic post Harini --- strange as it seems the childhood days are the best recalled ones, aren't they ? Yummy dish too

  5. Unknown Says:
  6. thanks for sharing your memories!!! it was lovely to read them...

  7. Priya Says:
  8. nice intro and memories .looks similar to one of our side dish .

  9. Lovely read harini!! A town where people never lock houses, must be wonderful sight to see such place!! bilahir tok looks yum!!! i too made it for another state!!

  10. Nice recipe

  11. It looks simply irresistible and a wonderful combination for veg khichdi !

  12. Priya Suresh Says:
  13. Omg, wat a beautiful and nostalgic post Harini. Love that a town people never lock houses, its a dream now for us.

    Bilahir tok looks just fingerlicking.

  14. What a nice narration of your childhood memories. Enjoyed reading it. The chutney looks perfect.

  15. Pavani Says:
  16. Lovely post Harini. You literally took us to Assam -- I was visualising the crows with 3ft wings :-)
    That tok looks sooo good..

  17. I love your personal experience in Assam. Till now I know only what I read on the net about Assam. Very interesting write up. And the tomato dish looks very nice...

  18. jayanthi Says:
  19. enjoyed reading the post. I made this chutney too but for some other state

  20. Srivalli Says:
  21. So nice to read about your memories, ever since you told us, I have been waiting to read about them..and that's a nice dish as well..:)

  22. Archana Says:
  23. Since you spoke about Assam I hav been wanting to hear about your memories there. Its so beautifully written.Thanks for sharing it. As for the tok love it and want to try it out. Tks.

  24. your recollections were so vivid and really transported me there so I could appreciate and learn about the people and the culture

  25. It was nice to read about your experiences! The recipe is so aromatic and simple to make.

  26. Lovely post Harini,nice write up about your childhood memories...The curry is simply awesome..

  27. Suma Gandlur Says:
  28. Loved to read about the state today through your eyes than the recipe. :)
    I don't know why there are not many NE Indian bloggers who could give a local perspective about the region and customs. I really enjoyed reading the simple facts you mentioned than going through the dry stuff on wiki and other links.

  29. Unknown Says:
  30. Lovely dish & sure would have tasted good.

  31. Padmajha Says:
  32. Ever since you told us about this state and its memories, I have been waiting to read it.Enjoyed this post Harini and the dish look s good too :)

  33. Nice to read about your childhood memories. Never been to the NE but your recollection is similar to what one of my friend who grew up there describes the state. Event the recipe is similar to what she says about the cuisine, very few spices and not too much of cooking. Bilahir tok looks like a nice side dish to serve with khichdi

  34. Beautiful post, wonder how I missed..the hi hid and tok look lovely, I fact I made the tok also and loved it.

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