Local Fishes of Assam

Discover the local fishes of Assam. It is a decorative species of fish found in parts of Assam, where a confluence exists between the wetlands and either the Brahmaputra River or one of its Brahmaputra tributaries. This species of fish is also known by the names hilsa, ilish, and hilsa shad. Ilish or hilsa shad is a freshwater and brackishwater fish, which is mainly found in India, particularly in West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, Assam, and Andhra Pradesh.

Katla, also known as major Indian carp, is usually found in rivers and lakes in India, one of the most popular freshwater fish species. Tilapia is mostly freshwater fish that lives in shallow waters, rivers, and lakes, also usually found living in the brackish waters of India. There are lists of freshwater fish found in Indian rivers, some of the more popular names for freshwater fish in India are Rohu, Katla, Mahseer, Magur, and Vaam. Pipli Cheng or Cheng Garaka is the local name of Channa Barca or Barca snakehead fish, rare species of snakeheads that is native to the upper Brahmaputra River Basin of Northeastern India and Bangladesh.

With a powerful, Brahmaputra River, and powerful tributaries running straight through, Assam has some of the most incredible fishing that one could ever encounter. Assam has ample bodies of water ideal for producing fish, and the irony is the state still imports 78 million tonnes of fish every day from other states to fulfill its needs. Such unregulated, illicit supplies also present the threat of invasive fish species, which poses a vanishing threat to the Assam’s smaller native fish species, and calls for immediate action from the Government and Department of Fisheries. In Assam, a program called Breeding units of locally significant fishes, funded by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) The National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) is a critical initiative for the promotion and cultivation of locally significant fish species that are highly sought after in Assam.

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The extreme humid weather and large water bodies ensure a wide range of freshwater fishes are abundantly available within Assam valley. Freshly caught local fish, which is sold in large jars by fishermen in the streets, are cooked in the oven. Local fishermen use simple nets to catch fish from the Bhramaputra River and to sell it at local markets. Local boys fish the Brahmaputra. Fishes enjoy themselves as well as sell at local markets. Sometimes pond fish tastes a lot sweeter than river fish.

Naroxingho Masor Jul is another authentic dish of Assam. Fish is cooked in light gravy with curry leaves, a common aromatic herb used in south and parts of north India. Commonly known as the Assam pedas,this curry can be made using just fish heads or tails, or any other combination too.

There are many ways to prepare the acidic fish curry among Assamese. Mas tenga (sour fish), commonly eaten in most communities in Assam, has recently become the iconic dish of Assamese food. Assamese eat the fish eggs so often that others start to envy them. There is not one mainstream ethnic group in Assam that does not eat Fish.

Introduction to some of the small and big fish found in Assam.

Photo Collection Credit by Saurav Gogoi and Google

English: Olive barb. Scientific Name: Systomus Sarana. অসমীয়া: পুঠি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩ ইঞ্চি )

Olive barb

English: Banded Gourami or Striped Gourami. Scientific Name: Trichogaster Fasciata. অসমীয়া: খলিহনা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২/৩ ইঞ্চি )

Trichogaster Fasciata

English: Honey Gourami. Scientific Name: Colisa Chuna. অসমীয়া: ভেচেলী, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২ ইঞ্চি )

Honey gourami

English: Climbing perch. Scientific Name: Anabas testudineus. অসমীয়া: কাৱৈ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৪ ইঞ্চি )

Climbing perch

English: Gangetic leaffish/ Mottled nandus/ Mud perch. Scientific Name: Nandus nandus. অসমীয়া: গেদগেদী, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য ৪/৫ ইঞ্চি )

Gangetic leaffish

English: Ceylon snakehead. Scientific Name: Channa orientalis. অসমীয়া: চেঙেলী, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৫/৬ ইঞ্চি )

Ceylon snakehead

English: Spotted snakehead Scientific Name: Channa punctata. অসমীয়া: গৰৈ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৬ ইঞ্চি )

Spotted snakehead

English: Assamese Snakehead / Dwarf Snakehead. Scientific Name: Channa stewartii. অসমীয়া: চেং/চেঙা মাছ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য ১২/১৪ ইঞ্চি )

Assamese Snakehead

English: Barca snakehead. Scientific Name: Channa barca. অসমীয়া: গৰকা চেং, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য: প্ৰায় ১৮/২০ ইঞ্চি )

Barca snakehead

English: Bullseye Snakehead, Cobra Snakehead. Scientific Name: Channa Marulius. অসমীয়া: শাল মাছ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৪৪/৫৬ ইঞ্চি )

Bullseye Snakehead

English: Striped Snakehead. Scientific Name: Channa striata. অসমীয়া: শ’ল, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য ৩৬/৩৮ ইঞ্চি )

Striped Snakehead

English: Stinging catfish. Scientific Name: Heteropneustes fossilis. অসমীয়া: শিঙি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য ৬/৭ ইঞ্চি )

Stinging catfish

English: Walking Catfish/ Air Breathing Catfish. Scientific Name: Clarias batrachus. অসমীয়া: মাগুৰ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৮ ইঞ্চি )

Walking Catfish

English: Striped dwarf catfish. Scientific Name: Mystus vittatus. অসমীয়া: শিঙৰা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩ ইঞ্চি )

Striped dwarf cat fish

English: Gagora catfish. Scientific Name: Arius gagora অসমীয়া: গাগল, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩৬ ইঞ্চি )

Gagora catfish 1024x576 1

English: Long Whiskers Catfish. Scientific Name: Sperata seenghala. অসমীয়া: আঁৰি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য: প্ৰায় ৪০ ইঞ্চি )

Long Whiskers Catfish

English: Freshwater Catfish, Helicopter Catfish or Wallago catfish Scientific Name: Wallago attu. অসমীয়া: বৰালি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৪৮/৫০ ইঞ্চি )

Freshwater Catfish

English: Giant Devil Catfish / Goonch. Scientific Name: Bagarius Yarrelli. অসমীয়া: গৰুৱা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য: প্ৰায় ৭৮ ইঞ্চি )

Giant Devil Catfish

English: Aspodiparia. Scientific Name: Aspidoparia morar. অসমীয়া: বৰলিয়া মাছ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩ ইঞ্চি )


English: Boopis razorbelly minnow. Scientific Name: Salmostoma boopis. অসমীয়া: চেলকণা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৪ ইঞ্চি )

Boopis razorbelly minnow

English: Flying Barb. Scientific Name: Esomus Danricus. অসমীয়া: দড়িকণা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২ ইঞ্চি )

Flying Barb

English: Mola/ Indian carplet/ Pale carplet. Scientific Name: Amblypharyngodon mola. অসমীয়া: মোৱা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২ ইঞ্চি )

Mola Indian carplet Pale carplet 1

English: Elongate glassy perchlet. Scientific Name: Chanda nama. অসমীয়া: চন্দা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১.৫ ইঞ্চি )

Elongate glassy perchlet

English: Indian river shad. Scientific Name: Gudusia chapra. অসমীয়া: কৰোটি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় প্ৰায় ৩ ইঞ্চি )

Mola Indian carplet Pale carplet

English: Bata labeo. Scientific Name: Labeo bata. অসমীয়া: ভাঙন, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১১/১২ ইঞ্চি )

Bata labeo

English: Ilish/ Hilsa. Scientific Name: Tenualosa ilisha. অসমীয়া: ইলিছ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১৮/২০ ইঞ্চি )


English: Kuria labeo. Scientific Name: Labeo gonius. অসমীয়া: কুঢ়ি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১২/১৪ ইঞ্চি )

Kuria labeo

English: Black Rohu. Scientific Name: Labeo calbasu. অসমীয়া: কলিয়াজৰা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১২/১৪ ইঞ্চি )

Black Rohu e1594553722918

English: Nandee labeo. Scientific Name: Labeo nandina. অসমীয়া: নাদনী, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২২ ইঞ্চি )

Nandee labeo

English: Striped Spiny eel/ Macrognathus pancalus, Mastacembelus punctatus. Scientific Name: Macrognathus aral অসমীয়া: টুৰা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৬/৮ ইঞ্চি )

Striped Spiny eel

English: Zig-Zag Eel. Scientific Name: Mastacembelus armatus অসমীয়া: বামী মাছ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২৮/৩০ ইঞ্চি )

Zig Zag Eel

English: Loach. Scientific Name: Nemacheilus botia. অসমীয়া: বটিয়া, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য ৩/৪ ইঞ্চি )


English: Cancila. Scientific Name: Xenentodon Cancila. অসমীয়া: কোকিলা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৬-৮ ইঞ্চি )


English: Garua Bachcha or Bachcha. Scientific Name: Clupisoma Garua. অসমীয়া: নেৰীয়া ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১৬/১৮ ইঞ্চি )

Garua Bachcha or Bachcha

English: Gangatic ailia. Scientific Name: Ailia coila. অসমীয়া: বাঁহপতীয়া বা কাজলি পাভ, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১০/১২ ইঞ্চি )

Gangatic ailia

English: Golden Mahseer. Scientific Name: Tor putitora. অসমীয়া: পিঠিয়া, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩৮/৪০ ইঞ্চি ) 

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golden mahseer

English: Brahmaputra Labeo. Scientific Name: Labeo dyocheilus. অসমীয়া: শিলঘৰীয়া, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২৪/২৬ ইঞ্চি )

Brahmaputra Labeo

English: Humped feather back. Scientific Name: Chitala chitala. অসমীয়া: চিতল, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৩৮/৪০ ইঞ্চি )

Humped feather back

English: Bronze Feather back. Scientific Name: Notopterus notopterus. অসমীয়া: কান্ধুলি, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১৪/১৬ ইঞ্চি )

Bronze Feather back

English: Tang gobi. Scientific Name: Glossogobius giuris. অসমীয়া: পাটিমুটুৰা, ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ৪/৫ ইঞ্চি )

Tang gobi

English: Freshwater Eels. Scientific Name: Anguillidae. অসমীয়া: কুচিয়া ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ২৮/৩০ ইঞ্চি )

Freshwater Eels

English: Ocellated Puffer Scientific Name: Tetraodon cutcutia. অসমীয়া: গঙ্গাটোপ ( দৈৰ্ঘ্য প্ৰায় ১.৫ ইঞ্চি )

Ocellated Puffer

In conclusion, Assam’s culinary culture is incomplete without its local fishes. With a variety of fish available, both freshwater and saltwater, Assamese cuisine have evolved with numerous traditional recipes. Exploring the local fishes of Assam is an experience that food lovers must indulge in to savor the unique and mouth-watering delicacies.

Local fishes of Assam are more than just food; they are an embodiment of the state’s culture, history, and spirit. Whether you’re a culinary adventurer or someone who appreciates regional cuisines, diving into the flavors of Assam’s fish dishes is an unforgettable experience.

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