10 Fishes to Eat in Assam in 2024

The state of Assam in the northeastern region of India is a true bonanza for anybody who loves fish. With the mighty rivers such as Brahmaputra and Barak and numerous wetlands and water bodies, Assam has many varieties of freshwater fish which is not only tasty but also rich in nutrients. The state contributes about 15% of the total fish production in India and has a production capacity of over 4 lakh metric tons annually. Varieties such as the rohu, Katli, and the chital fish, are just but some of the over 200 fish species in Assam. Out of all the fish species in the state, Rohu and Katla combined account for more than half of the total fish caught. Being a biodiversity hotspot of fish, Assam is a paradise for fish lovers due to the vast variety of fish species found in its waters. So, in this article, we will introduce some of the best fishes to eat in Assam.

List of Some of the Fishes to Eat in Assam:

01. Rohu (Rau, Rou)

Rohu (Rau, Rou)

The Rohu (Rau, Rou) is one of the most sought after and delicious fish found in the state of Assam. This big fish inhabits fresh water and it belongs to carp family which is in Cyprinidae order. Rohu is a non-carnivorous fish that is mostly found in the rivers and lakes of Assam part of India. The flavor is mild sweet and, the texture is flaky and near-crunchy, making it a favorite among fish lovers. Besides, it is a rich source of protein, fat, vitamin and mineral that make it a very important fish in the diet of many people. It has low mercury content and health experts suggest that it is one of the best fishes that should be consumed often. Rohu can be prepared in many tasty methods and it can be fried, baked, grilled or prepared in a curry. Rohu, locally called Rau or Rou, is commonly found in Brahmaputra Valley, Barak Valley and Central Assam and Lower Assam.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories:117
Protein:18g
Fat:5g
Carbs:0g

02. Katli (Bokar)

Katli (Bokar)

Katli (Bokar) is a fresh water fish that is enjoyed by the people of Assam particularly in the Brahmaputra valley. This tasty fish is lean and has dry and flaky white flesh. Being a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals such as selenium, Katli can be incorporated into the Assamese diet in a healthy manner.

Here are some of the famous Assamese dishes made with Katli (Bokar):

  • Masor Tenga (Tangy Fish Curry): Being one of the most popular fish dishes of Assamese cuisine, it is unique for its sour and rather light taste.
  • Patot Diya Maach (Fish Wrapped in Banana Leaf): This is one of the most common ways of preparing fish in which fish is marinated and placed on banana leaves and cooked either steamed or roasted.
  • Fish Curry with Black Sesame (Til Diya Masor Tenga): Here is a traditional fish curry recipe from the North Eastern region of India called Assam which uses black sesame seeds.
  • Fish with Bamboo Shoot (Khorisa Maach): This dish has a unique taste of fermented bamboo shoots which are used commonly in Assamese food items.

The fish is abundant in the districts of Nagaon, Morigaon, Darrang and Kamrup in particular. It is a staple food for the local fishing communities who depend on the fishing activities for their livelihood.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories121 kcal
Protein20.7 g
Total Fat4.2 g
Saturated Fat1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat1.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.7 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.3 g
Omega-6 Fatty Acids0.4 g
Cholesterol55 mg
Sodium60 mg
Potassium320 mg
Calcium20 mg
Iron0.5 mg
Magnesium30 mg
Phosphorus200 mg
Vitamin A30 IU
Vitamin C1 mg
Vitamin B60.3 mg
Vitamin B122.2 µg

03. Catla (chital)

Catla (chital)

Catla, commonly known as Chital, is one of the popular and commonly consumed fish in Assam among the fresh water fish. This type of large carp fish is found in plenty in the Brahmaputra River which passes through the state. The Catla has firm, thin and basically white muscle tissue which people find tasty. This particular fish is used to prepare several Assamese cuisines all through the state of Assam.
The Catla is widely popular in Upper Assam’s food culture because the region is home to this fish species. This fish is used to prepare different meals such as curries, stews and Bengena meals which include Chital Aru Bhat (Catla Fish Curry with Rice). In Lower Assam, the Catla is prepared in a gravy type preparation with vegetables or wrapped in banana leaves and cooked as patar chital. The fish is also smoked or dried and is turned into shutki chital – a famous Bengali fish preparation.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories113 kcal
Protein19.5 g
Total Fat4.0 g
Saturated Fat1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.6 g
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.2 g
Omega-6 Fatty Acids0.4 g
Cholesterol50 mg
Sodium65 mg
Potassium290 mg
Calcium15 mg
Iron0.6 mg
Magnesium28 mg
Phosphorus180 mg
Vitamin A20 IU
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin B60.2 mg
Vitamin B122.1 µg

04. Hilsa (ilisha):

Hilsa (ilisha)

Hilsa (ilisha) is one of the most liked and tastiest fish found in Assam. This silver colored fish is fairly easy to get in the Brahmaputra river system which passes through the state. The Hilsa fish is found predominantly in the Lower Assam area consisting of Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup, and Darrang districts. This area has great demand and is also consumed largely in the consumption of Hilsa fish.
Some of the traditional Assamese delicacies include fish which is best served with Hilsa that gives it a richer texture and taste. It is often prepared in form of curries, steamed or fried dishes, pickles among others. Some of the famous Assamese Hilsa dishes are Tenualosa ilishaor patil, Tenualosa ilishaor jal, and Dharona Tenualosa ilisha.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories210 kcal
Protein22 g
Total Fat13 g
Saturated Fat3.8 g
Cholesterol70 mg
Sodium60 mg
Potassium350 mg
Calcium50 mg
Iron1 mg
Vitamin A150 IU
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin B60.5 mg
Vitamin B1210 µg

05. Prawn (Chingri)

Prawn (Chingri)

Chingri or prawn is one of the most commonly consumed fishes in the fish markets of Brahmaputra river basin of Assam. The freshwater prawns are considered as natural and succulent with a sweet taste and tender muscle structure. Chingri mach is very common in the preparation of Assamese foods and curries, fries, steamed foods and much more. Some of the popular Assamese shrimp preparations are Chingri Malaikari (shrimps and coconut gravy), Chingri Patio (spicy fried shrimp) and Chingri Tenga (sour shrimp curry). Chingri is also used in non vegetarian pithas such as gwah pitha.
The areas which are dominantly involved in the consumption of shrimp are Dhubri, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Darrang, and Kamrup.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories99 kcal
Protein24 g
Total Fat0.3 g
Saturated Fat0.1 g
Cholesterol189 mg
Sodium111 mg
Potassium259 mg
Calcium70 mg
Iron0.3 mg
Vitamin A54 IU
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin B60.1 mg
Vitamin B121.3 µg

06. Walking Catfish (Magur)

Walking Catfish (Magur)

One of the most common fishes in Assam is the Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus), locally called Magur. The air breathing catfish is capable of living out of water for rather long, moving across damp grounds hence its name “Walking Catfish.” Magur is a common fish in many of the Assam Rivers, swamps, and flooded rice paddies.
Some of the popular dishes that involve Magur are Magur Tenga or catfish in tangy gravy, Magur Pora or spicy fried catfish and Magur Pola or sour catfish curry. Known for its tender and flaky meat, Magur fish has a mildly sweet taste and is well suitable for taking up spices.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories105 kcal
Protein18 g
Total Fat3 g
Saturated Fat0.9 g
Cholesterol50 mg
Sodium45 mg
Potassium350 mg
Calcium20 mg
Iron1 mg
Vitamin A20 IU
Vitamin C0 mg
Vitamin B60.3 mg
Vitamin B122 µg

07. Sitting Catfish (Shingi Mach)

Sitting Catfish (Shingi Mach)

Sitting Catfish, locally known as Shingi Mach, is a choice and favorite fish that resides in the rivers and swamps of Assam. Due to its bottom-dwelling nature, this fish is popularly known by this name. The Sitting Catfish has a small head and is pressed flattened fish does not have scales. The area where it is most abundant is the Brahmaputra river basin and floodplain region, particularly in the districts of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Dibrugarh of upper Assam.
Sitting catfish is used to prepare some of the famous Assamese delicacies such as Shingi Tenga which is Catfish in Spicy Sour Broth, Shingi Pitika which is Minced Catfish Salad and Shingi Kalia which is Catfish Curry. The tender and crispy texture of the Sitting Catfish is ideal for the hot and sour preparation inherent to the Assamese cuisine.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount
Calories95 kcal
Protein16.5 g
Fat2.5 g
Carbohydrates0 g
Fiber0 g
Calcium20 mg
Iron1 mg
Vitamin A65 IU
Vitamin C0 mg

08. Swamp Barb (Puthi)

Swamp Barb (Puthi)

Swamp Barb, also called locally as Puthi, is a freshwater fish and is seen in rivers and swamps of Assam. It is a small fish of light brown colour having black stripes on its body and is one of the most popular local fishes eaten in the region. Puthi is easily available and more famous in riverine areas of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat and Sibsagar. Swamp Barb fish is tender and flaky and the most tender part of the fish, which is commonly demanded by consumers, is the fish’s meat. It is commonly used in the preparation of Assamese foods like Puthi Machor Tenga, Puthi Machor Pora and Puthi Machor Pitika.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount
Calories90 kcal
Protein17 g
Fat2 g
Carbohydrates0 g
Fiber0 g
Calcium20 mg
Iron0.5 mg
Vitamin A80 IU
Vitamin C0 mg

09. Swamp EEL (Kuchia)

Swamp EEL (Kuchia)

Kuchia or the swamp eel is another favourite fish found in the wetlands and ponds of Assam, which is very tasty and rich in nutrition. It is a long and thin fish like a snake and is found in many Assamese dishes.
In the flooded fields and beels of lower Assam, Kuchia is available and eaten mostly, in large quantities. The consumption of this fish is very high among the people of Barpeta and Bongaigaon districts, especially as a source of protein. Kuchia is quite oily and thick in texture, therefore suitable for dishes such as curry and stew. It is also smoked and dried in order to make sidhara, a tasty and easily stored food product.

Other popular dishes that highlight Kuchia include:

  • Kuchia Pitha – Spiced rice cakes stuffed with minced Kuchia
  • Kuchia Pitika – A pungent mashed fish dip/chutney
  • Kuchia Doi – Fish curry cooked in curd

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount
Calories110 kcal
Protein18 g
Fat3.5 g
Carbohydrates0 g
Fiber0 g
Calcium25 mg
Iron1 mg
Vitamin A75 IU
Vitamin C0 mg

10. Freshwater crabs

Freshwater crabs

Freshwater crabs are commonly consumed in Assam especially in the Brahmaputra valley area where it is most popular. The state is home to two widely known species of crabs these are the gecarcinucidae family crab which is known locally as “baan kakra” and the potamidae family crab which is known locally as “joura kakra”. These small-sized crabs with brownish shell and claws are found in rivers, streams, ponds and water logged paddy fields of the state. Crabs also form a part of the local specialty fish preparations like the famous fish curries of Assam- the masor tenga and the khar, which taste even sweeter with the tender meat of these crabs. The spicy gravy enhances the natural taste of the crab without overpowering the other ingredients. However, there are lots of recipes that are centered on crab such as the kakrar lota that focuses on the tender meat of the crab. Estimates indicate that about 20000 metric tons of freshwater crabs are consumed in Assam each year.

Nutrition Facts per 100g

NutrientAmount
Calories80 kcal
Protein15 g
Fat1 g
Carbohydrates0 g
Fiber0 g
Calcium40 mg
Iron2 mg
Vitamin A100 IU
Vitamin C0 mg

So, it is a wrap! As mentioned above some of the delicious and healthy fish available for consumption are Rohu, Katli, Catla, Hilsa, Prawns, Walking Catfish, Sitting Catfish, Swamp Barb, Swamp Eel and Freshwater crabs. These fish are sources of protein, omega three fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Fish production in Assam, currently stands at more than 400,000 metric tons per year with Rohu and Katla accounting for more than 50%. Protein content of the fish falls between 15-24g per 100g serving, omega-3 fatty acids range from 0. The protein content was found to be 2-0. 5g and iron content was 0. 5-2mg, they are a source of some nutrients which are important in the body. Different people of Assam relish the local recipes that use these fishes such as, Masor Tenga, Patot Diya Maach, and Shingi Tenga. Assam cuisine is a rich one because of the availability and the types of fish found in the region. Therefore, next time you crave a good dish made with fish, consider this article as your road map.

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