|Labra Assamese Cuisine
Today on day 3 of the Blogging Marathon let’s stop at Assam!
Think Assam and think Assam tea!! The delicious brew that wakes me up and gets me going!
So is Assam all about tea only?
No Assam (Asom, Axom) is a state of India in the north-eastern region. Its capital is Dispur, located within the municipal area of Guwahati city. Located south of the eastern Himalayas, Assam comprises the Brahmaputra
and the Barak
river valleys along with the Karbi Anglong and the North Cachar Hills. Assam is surrounded by six of the other Seven Sister States
. Geographically Assam and these states are connected to the rest of India via a narrow strip of land in West
Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck”.
Assam is rich in culture, ethnic groups, languages/dialects spoken and literature. It is known for Assam tea, large and old petroleum resources (the first oil reserves of India were discovered in Assam in the late 19th century), Assam silk and for its rich biodiversity. Assam has successfully conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction,
along with the tiger and numerous species of birds, and it provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian
elephant. It is becoming an increasingly popular destination for wildlife tourism, and Kaziranga and Manas are both World Heritage Sites. Assam was also known for its Sal tree forests and forest products, much depleted now. A land of high rainfall, Assam is endowed with lush greenery and the mighty river the Brahmaputra, whose tributaries and oxbow lakes provide the region with a unique hydro-geomorphic and aesthetic environment.
Me, I am interested in the cuisine of Assam as Assamese cuisine is still obscure.
“Assamese style of cooking that is a confluence of cooking habits of the hills that favour 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; the staple food here is rice.
Assamese cooking 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 the fire and strong flavours due mainly to the use of endemic exotic fruits and vegetables that are either fresh, dried or fermented.
Rice is one of the main dishes in Assam, and typically, an Assamese plate would contain bhaat
(rice) with dal
(lentils), masor jool
(fish curry), with mangso
(meat curry) or xaak
(herbs and vegetables).
Different rice is grown and eaten in different ways, roasted, grounded, boiled or just soaked. Fish curries made of rou, illish, or chitol are the most favourite. If not a curry, simply fried fish. Birds like ducks and pigeon are also used in dishes. Pork and Mutton dishes are mainly popular among the younger generation.
Another favourite combination can be looci (puffed bread), a curry which can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and asar (pickle).
Two main characteristic of a traditional meal in Assam are Khar and Tenga. A class of dishes named after the main ingredient Khar and a sour dish is aTenga.
Khorisa (bamboo shoot) are used at times for flavours in curries. They also can be preserved and made into pickles. Koldil (Banana Flower) and Squash are also cooked into delicious sabji’s.
The food is usually served in bell metal utensils.
|Labra Assames Festive cooking
Today I am serving my family Labra.
The dish that Sunita Bhuyan
has shared with her readers and I had the good fortune of finding.
Read what Sunita has to say about Labra in her own words,” yes, the mixed vegetable dish which occupies a special place of its own. Apart from accompanying meals at home, it also forms an important part of community feasts, especially during pujas
(labra and khisiri
is a classic combination during religious festivities). It basically consists of a medley of vegetables, which all come together to form this dish. The star attraction, the pumpkin, is missing from my version, as we have become fans of the butternut squash, so feel free to substitute it with pumpkin if you wish. Of course, like any other recipe, every household has its own labra combinations, but pumpkin, aubergine, potato and moolah/Daikon radish
are usually the stars. Sometimes, plantains and roughly shredded cabbage are also used.”
Personally, Labra as Sunita has made for me it’s totally a new dish, a new way of eating vegetables. I liked it but will prefer to make mine in different oil. Sorry Rai/mustard oil is not for us.
By the time I made the labra I knew that I will not get many takers for the meal thanks to the strong aroma of rai/mustard oil I skipped making the khichidi that I was planning to make with it. Maybe I will make them later again to suit our tastes.
Here is Labra
Indian State: Assam
Recipe Source: Sunita’s World
and what you need
- 3 cups chopped pumpkin
- 2 cups chopped aubergine/brinjal
- 1 cup chopped mooli/radish
- 2 medium sized potatoes, chopped
- 2 tblspn mustard oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- ¾ tsp haldi/turmeric powder
- 1 tsp jeera/cumin powder
- ¾ tsp garam masala powder
- 1 ½ cups water
- For making a paste:
- 1 small onion ,chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 inches of ginger, chopped
- and 1 whole red chilli
- 1 tsp paas puron
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole red chilli, halved
- Before I started I made the paas puron for I have not used it before. Mix equal spoons of fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed
- Make a paste with the onion, garlic ginger and red chilli.
- Heat the oil in a kadhai/wok and add the bay leaf and red chilli that we have kept for tempering.
- When the seeds splutter, lower the flame and add the onion-ginger-garlic-chilli paste.
- Keep stirring till the moisture evaporates and the mixture is lumpy.
- Add the vegetables, mooli, potatoes, brinjal and the pumpkin in that order, stir well after each addition til everything is nicely coated with the spices.
- Season with sugar and salt.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook till the vegetables are done till little more than ½ done. Stir every now and then.
- Add the turmeric and cumin powders stir well; about a minute then add the water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook till done, stirring every now and then. The brinjal should have lost its shape, the pumpkin and potatoes very soft there should not be any sharp edges and the mooli slightly firm.
- Add the garam masala powder.
- Increase the heat and stirring continuously, reduce the gravy, but do not let it dry out completely.
- Serve hot as a side dish with plain rice and dal.
While chopping the vegetables, keep the sizes of those that cook faster, bigger in size to the others.
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