By Rupali Lamba

This weekend I decided to try Jakoi for a traditional Assamese meal. Situated in Assam Bhawan on Sardar Patel Marg, we were guided along the side of the Bhawan that lead us to the shack-like patio of Jakoi. Though the outdoor seating was inviting with hand painted trunks and cane furniture, the current wave of blistering heat called for the air-conditioned indoors. At first, the décor seemed typical of popular restaurants that one is likely to find in foothills, but as we settled in we noticed funky accents in every nook and cranny. You’ll see a wall with beautiful black and white photographs of famous people from Assam, framed in bright colors, and straw hats of various sizes pegged on another wall to create patterns. I will leave you to discover more on your visit to Jakoi.

Our table had a small card that listed Jakoi’s summer menu. From this, we ordered a starter called salty rice pitha, stuffed with vegetables. A pitha is like a thick dosa, and within its folds lies a bed of crisp, freshly chopped beans, cauliflowers and carrots. This was served with delicious tamarind chutney. Thought it tasted good initially, as the pitha cooled a layer of oil settled above it- not what I’d recommend for the summer.

For our main course, my friend and I decided to try the duck fry and a Gooseberry fish curry with steamed rice. When the duck fry was brought out, it looked black and burnt, but on trying it, I was pleasantly surprised at how tender and lovely it was. It was reminiscent of a meal I enjoyed in a dhaba by the highway in Guwahati. A classic soy sauce based dish, it was garnished with peppers and onions and while it didn’t surprise me in its preparations or flavours, it was still enjoyable to eat. Along with this succulent duck fry, we had a serving of gooseberry fish curry. The gooseberry used in this dish was amla. The fish lay in a thin broth made with amla. While the broth was refreshing and delightful, befitting this season, the problem was with the fish. It was fried and overcooked, thus tough and an unpleasant contrast to the lightness of the curry itself.

Personally, I can’t say I was very impressed because even though the food was good, it didn’t hit the mark or ‘the spot’ so to speak. The most popular item on the menu seemed to be the Parampara Thali, and other customers at Jakoi were enjoying it. Intrigued by the popularity of this thali, I got it packed for my foodie father to hear his take on it. He relished the contents of the thali which featured two fish dishes- one curry, one steamed, a duck curry, dal, mashed potatoes with mustard seeds, imli chutney, rice and payas (kheer). The duck curry on the thali was tasty and cooked well. He said the fish curries were light and delicate without compromising the fish, and the dal was classic, subtle and simple. The kheer, however, was avoidable. Later that evening, I happened to meet an Assamese friend, and to truly experience Assamese cuisine he told me try Masor Tenga, which is a tangy tomato based fish curry which is the equivalent of Delhi’s butter chicken. For those who have never tried or are intrigued by Assamese food, this is most certainly a great place to start.

Notes in our {Little Black Book} | Jakoi

Where | Assam Bhawan, 1 Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri # {011} 24108605

Open from |  11.30am to 4pm & 7.30pm to 11pm

Eat at Jakoi when you are in the mood for something different, while being in a trendy environment. Stick to the local favourites and recommendations for a truly authentic experience. Two juices, one starter, two main courses, rice and dessert worked out to Rs. 1095 – pocket friendly!