Why Summers In Assam Are Incomplete Without The Humble Kaji Nemu

by Tejashee Kashyap
Why Summers In Assam Are Incomplete Without The Humble Kaji Nemu

The humble lemon is not just a sour fruit but a vital ingredient that adds a unique flavour and fragrance to the food. Summers in Assam are synonymous with kaji nemu, a citrus fruit or known as Assam lemon. However, the elusive appeal of kaji nemu has now gone far and wide.

What Makes Kaji Nemu Special?

Kaji Nemu
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

This variant of lemon is notoriously high in juice and high on aroma. People don’t even waste the lemon’s rind or leaves because of how good it tastes.

No lunch or dinner in any household in Assam is complete without a piece of the dear old kaji nemu. You’ll find slices of this lemon lining dining tables in every household, alongside bowls of vegetables, fish, and rice. A squeeze of it on dals and curries imparts a beautiful sourness and a distinct fruity smell.

But, it is even more curious that it is almost non-existent outside the region of Assam. Moreover, the lemon received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2019.  Its unique fragrance and size have slowly got India and the world acquiring a taste for it.

The kaji nemu is different from the round, table tennis-ball-shaped variety usually consumed in North India. It’s nearly thrice that lemon in size. It is also production-friendly because it delivers fruits all year long, and it doesn’t fall off the tree even if it is overripe, lessening the damage to the fruits.

Also Read: 9 Refreshing Watermelon Dishes You Must Try This Summer!

How This Lemon Is Used In Foods

Kaji Nemu
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Assam’s kaji nemu has a unique taste that sets it apart from other varieties of lemons. It is less sour than regular lemons and has a subtle sweetness to it. The fruit also has a distinctive aroma that is often described as being similar to that of lime or bergamot. The combination of these flavours and aromas makes kaji nemu an essential ingredient in many Assamese dishes.

One of the most popular culinary uses of this lemon is in the preparation of pickles. Assamese pickles are known for their tangy and spicy flavours, and kaji nemu is a crucial ingredient in many traditional pickle recipes. The fruit is also used in chutneys, sauces, and marinades for fish and meat dishes. Even thanks to a new generation of chefs, the citrus fruit is slowly making its way into cuisines across India too.

Not just as an addition to food items, kaji nemu remains a valuable part of Assam’s cultural heritage.

Have you tried kaji nemu before?

Also Read: 9 Types Of Lemons You Should Know Of!

Cover image credits: Wikimedia Commons