Thekera tenga boror jool

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Come summer, and what we Assamese look forward to in a meal is the tengar jool (tenga-sour; jool-light, soup like curry). This is usually made with a variety of ingredients like lemon, tomatoes, bottle gourd etc, but the best has to be the one with thekera tenga. This thekera tenga boror jool is a tengar jool with dalir bor (lentil fritters) added to it.



Thekera tenga?

Sun dried slices of the thekera fruit (Garcinia pedunculata), are used as a souring agent in Assamese cuisine. The thekera fruit is green at the beginning, gets deep purple when ripe and turns deeper purple or almost black when dried. Pieces of dried thekera are soaked for a while in water, and used along with the water as a souring agent in various dishes.

A little research has led me to believe that it must be a very close relative of kokum (Garcinia Indica), so probably it can be used too in the recipe that follows. However, I must mention here that I have neither seen or tasted kokum in real life, but reading about it has led me to believe that it might be similar if not exact.


Benefits-

Thekera tega is supposed to be good for upset tummies and a few pieces of thekera, soaked in water and mixed with a little salt and sugar, forms a great drink to soothe those blues.

Thekera tenga has a long shelf life and only a little is needed at a time. I had run out of my stock, and so Ma had sent a pack of thekera with the other half when he went to Guwahati recently. With temperatures rising, and the sun shining bright, the thekera tenga could not have come at a better time and was promptly put to good use.

A few pointers in making the thekera tenga boror jool-

The fritters-

The fritters are made with split red lentils which are soaked and ground with just a couple of tablespoons of water. I like to add a little bit of raw rice to the lentils while soaking. It gives the bor an extra bite.


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. Only then, turn over, or else it will be a mush.



The sour level-

The gravy should be zingy but pleasant and not so tart that it makes you wince. The slices of the thekera tenga can sometimes vary in size and thickness. So, adjust the thekera tenga pieces and 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 with just enough time for the fritters to soak in some of the liquid but not too much. 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.



Serving suggestion-

Tengar jool is usually served with plain rice along with other side dishes. Tengar jool is always had towards the end of a meal. So if there is a meat or other lentil dish, those would usually be had first. We had our thekera tenga boror jool with some rice, dal, cauliflower and bean bhaji and an Indian style omlette with onions. And o course, added some of the fritters into the mix too!

Continue reading for the full printable recipe for thekera tenga boror jool.


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

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Recipe card-

Thekera tenga boror jool

Sunita Bhuyan
An Assamese recipe of lentil fritters in a light, soupy sour gravy made with sun dried slices of thekera tenga, an indigenious fruit.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Assamese, Indian

Ingredients
  

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

  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 2 tbsp rice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, halved
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, skin peeled and roughly chopped
  • cup finely chopped fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • ½ cup vegetable /sunflower oil to fry the fritters (may need more); see notes at the end of the recipe

For the tengar jool (the sour gravy)

  •  6-7 pieces of thekera tenga, soaked in a cup of water for an hour (may need more if they are smaller and thinner)
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil ( normal oil can be used, but mustard oil gives it a better flavour)
  • 2 whole red chillies, 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
  • 4 -4½ cups of water (may need more); see notes at the end of the recipe
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • ½ tsp plain flour

Instructions
 

  • Wash the lentils and rice together. Soak them in a bowl with enough water for an hour.
  • Add the lentil-rice mixture along with th green chillies and ginger to a grinder and make a very slightly coarse mixture. If needed add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Add the ground lentil mixture to a bowl. Add the turmeric powder, coriander, onion and salt and mix well.
  • Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a small pan (mine was non stick)
  • Add teaspoons 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 dried red chillies and paas puron. When the seeds splutter, add the thekera pieces (which were soaked in water) along with the turmeric powder. Stir for a few seconds and add the water in which the thekera was soaked.
  • Add the rest of the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for a minute and add the sugar.
  • Mix the flour with a couple of tablespoons of water and add to the pan, stirring briskly to avoid lumps.
  • 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. (see notes at the end of the recipe)
  • Taste the gravy, if it is too tart, add more water and a little sugar. Adjust the salt accordingly.
  • Simmer for half a minute and remove from heat. Turn the fritters upside down once.
  • Cover and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

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.
  • Check the tartness of the gravy. It 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, simmer for about half a minute and serve in a few minutes.
Keyword Assamese, assamese cuisine, assamese food, assamese recipe, assamese specility, boror tenga, dalir bor, lentil fritters, split red lentils, summer special, tenga, thekera, thekera tenga

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Until next time,

Sunita

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