Assamese cuisine is the cuisine of Assam. It is a style of cooking that is a confluence of cooking habits of the hills that favor fermentation and drying as forms of food preservation, and those from the plains that provide fresh vegetables and abundance of fish from its many rivers and ponds both of which are centered on the main ingredient rice. It is a mixture of different indigenous styles with considerable regional variations and some external influences. The cuisine is characterized by very little use of spices, little cooking over fire and strong flavors due mainly to the use of endemic exotic fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented. Fish is widely used, and birds like duck, squab etc. are very popular, which are often paired with a main vegetable or ingredient. Preparations are rarely elaborate the practice of Bhuna, the gentle frying of spices before the addition of the main ingredients so common in Indian cooking, is absent in the cuisine of Assam.