Boror tenga

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This is a recipe for an Assamese summer speciality – boror tenga. It translates to lentil fritters in a thin sour gravy.

Boror tenga

Climate plays such an important role in the kind of food that we enjoy. Back in Assam, summers would include a lot of tangy curries with a thin gravy. Being a predominantly rice eating state, rice would be the constant on the lunch/dinner plate. And the accompanying curries would keep changing according to the weather and availability of ingredients.

Tenga?

Come summer, and what we Assamese look forward to in a meal is the tengar jool (tenga-sour; jool-light, soup like curry). Fish or lentil fritters would be added to the gravy. This is usually made with a variety of ingredients like lemon, tomatoes, etc, but the best has to be the one with thekera tenga. ( no clues as to it’s English version). The thekera fruit is green at the beginning, gets deep purple when ripe and turns deeper purple or almost black when dried. It is a souring agent. It is soaked for a while in water, and used along with the sour water.

The dish that I am today going to share with you is boror tenga. Pan fried red lentil fritters are added to a lemon based gravy which has a thin soup like consistency. As a souring agent, lemon is readily available, so I used that. And with the recent temperatures soaring in our part of the world, this was the perfect accompaniment to our meal and also added that extra dose of nostalgia.

A few pointers in making the boror tenga

The fritters-

The fritters are made with split red lentils which are soaked and ground. No extra water needs to be added while grinding. I like to add a little amount of rice for extra crispiness.

Quantity of fritters-

This recipe yields about 33 fritters. Of this, I only added about 16 to the gravy and saved the rest to serve on the side as they are yummy to munch on their own too. If you want to make just the gravy, then just halve the ingredients for the fritters. But if you make all thirty plus of them, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Frying the fritters-

Traditionally, the fritters are fried in mustard oil and it definitely adds more flavour. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough so fried the fritters in vegetable oil and made the gravy with mustard oil. The oil needs to be hot but not too hot or else the fritters will burn and the insides won’t get cooked properly.

The fritters are pan fried in batches. Once the batter is dropped into the pan, give it a little time to set on one side, and then turn over, or else it will be a mush.

The sour level-

The lemons that I used were very tart and I diluted it with enough water to suit our taste buds. So, check the tartness in yours. The gravy should be zingy but pleasant and not so tart that it makes you wince. So, adjust the water accordingly.

Adding the fritters-

The fritters absorb a lot of the liquid after they are added to the gravy. Unless you are serving the dish almost after making it, the fritters and the gravy can be made earlier. Just reheat the gravy, drop in the fritters and serve in a few minutes. Or just make the fritters earlier. The gravy does not need a long time and is not very complicated, so can be made a few minutes before serving.

Continue reading for the full printable recipe / video for the boror tenga.

Recipe card-

Boror tenga

Boror tenga

Sunita Bhuyan
Pan fried lentil fritters in a light sour gravy.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Frying friters 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Assamese, Indian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For the bor (fritters)-See notes at the end of the recipe

  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 2 tbsp rice
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • cup finely chopped coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • ½ cup oil, to fry the fritters (may need more); see notes at the end of the recipe

For the tenga (the sour gravy)

  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 whole red chilli, halved or broken into small pieces
  • 1 bay leaf, halved
  • ½ tsp paas puron (a spice blend of equal quantities of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies, split halfway up from the thicker end
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 -4½ cups of water (may need more); see notes at the end of the recipe
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste

Instructions
 

The bor (lentil fritters)

  • Wash the lentils and rice together. Soak them in a bowl with enough water for an hour.
  • Add the lentil-rice mixture to a grinder. Do not add any extra water. The consistency can be a little grainy.
  • Add the ground lentil mixture to a bowl. Add the turmeric powder and salt and mix well.
  • Add the onion, ginger, green chillies and coriander and mix well.
  • Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a small pan (mine was non stick)
  • Add teaspoon fulls of the mixture to the pan. Let the bottom set. This will take about 1 to 1½ minutes over medium heat. They will move easily. Turn them over and let that side set too. After that turn over a couple of times till both the sides are nicely browned. Take care not to burn.
  • Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. I made the fritters in four batches After two batches, I added the remaining ¼ cup of oil. According to the size of your pan, you might need more oil. Do not let the pan dry out; add enough but not too much.

For the tenga (the sour gravy)

  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan.
  • Add the bay leaf, dried red chilli and paas puron. When the seeds splutter, add the turmeric powder. Stir quickly and and the lemon juice. Stir.
  • Add the green chillies.
  • Add the water (you may need more, check notes at the bottom of the recipe)
  • Add the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove the lid and increase the heat to bring to a boil.
  • Taste the gravy, if it is too tart, add more water and a little sugar. Adjust the salt accordingly.
  • Add the bor / fritters. I added half to the gravy and kept the other half to serve on the side See notes at the end of the recipe.
  • After a minute or so, remove from heat. Do no keep for too long or the fritters will soften too much.
  • Cover and let the gravy seep into the fritters for a few minutes.
  • Serve immediately with steamed rice. We had ours with some rice, dal, cauliflower and broccoli sabji, fritters and some tomato and cucumber salad.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe yields about 33 fritters. Of this, I only added about 16 to the gravy and saved the rest to serve on the side as they are yummy to munch on their own too. If you want to make just the gravy, then make just halve the ingredients for the fritters. But I’m sure you will like to munch on a few of them.
  • Traditionally, the fritters are fried in mustard oil and it definitely adds more flavour. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough so fried the fritters in vegetable oil and made the gravy with mustard oil. The oil needs to be hot but not smoking hot or else the fritters will burn and the insides won’t get cooked properly.
  • The fritters are pan fried in batches. Once the batter is dropped into the pan, give it a little time to set on one side, and then turn over, or else it will be a mush.
  • The lemons that I used were very tart and I diluted it with enough water to suit our taste buds. So, check the tartness in yours. The gravy should be zingy but pleasant and not so tart that it makes you wince. So, adjust the water accordingly.
  • The fritters absorb a lot of the liquid after they are added to the gravy. Unless you are serving the dish almost after making it, the fritters and the gravy can be made earlier. Just reheat the gravy, drop in the fritters and serve in a few minutes.
Keyword assamese cuisine, lentil fritters, regional indian cuisine

All the Assamese recipes on this website can be found here.

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Until next time,

Sunita

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