Labra

by Sunita on October 20, 2008

Isn’t it nice to wake up, open the window and look out at the splendour of nature as dawn beaks into day…the sky full of vibrant colours…no two mornings are ever the same, are they?

The view through the window
Starting their day

Yes, the start to the week looked quite promising, though, it turned out to be a different story as the day progressed. But, then, the greyness of the day was saved by the colour around us…yes, the colour of autumn.

On the food front, during this time of the year, pumpkins and squashes abound. Back home in Assam, this means it’s time for labra

yes, the mixed vegetable dish which occupies a special place of it’s 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 t0 substitute it with pumpkin if you wish . Of course, like any other recipe, every household has it’s own labra combinations, but pumpkin, aubergine, potato and moolah/Daikon radish are usually the stars. Sometimes, plantains and roughly shredded cabbage are also used.

The following version is how I’ve seen my ma make it, and it is also the way I make it.

What’s needed-

3 C chopped butternut squash/pumpkin

2 C chopped aubergine

1 c chopped moola/mooli(Daikon radish)

2 medium sized potatoes, chopped

a paste of 1 small onion (chopped), 4 cloves of garlic(chopped), 2 inches of ginger(chopped) and 1 whole red chilli

2 tblsp mustard oil

1/2 tsp sugar

salt to taste

3/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

3/4 tsp garam masala powder

1 and 1/2 C water

for the tempering-

1 tsp paas puron

1 bay leaf

1 whole red chilli, halved

How to-

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the ingredients for tempering. When the seeds splutter, add the onion-ginger-garlic-chilli paste. Keep stirring till the moisture evaporates and the mixture is lumpy.
  2. Add the vegetables, moola, potatoes,butternut squash and aubergine, in that order, stirring well after each addition til everything is nicely coated with the spices.. Add the sugar and season with salt.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook till the vegetables are done 3/4ths of the way, stirring every now and then.
  4. Add the turmeric and cumin powders, stir well for about a minute and 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 aubergine should have lost its shape, the squash and potatoes very soft ( no sharp edges) and the moola slightly firm.
  5. Add the garam masala powder.
  6. Increase the heat and stirring continuously, reduce the gravy, but do not let it dry out completely.
  7. Serve hot as a side dish with plain rice and dal.

notes-

  • While chopping the vegetables, keep the sizes of those that cook faster, bigger in size to the others.
  • Can add a little ghee to the dish after cooking, for extra oomph.

We had ours with plain rice and masoor dal (split red lentils). There was also something else, but that will find its way in another post :-)

Am sending this over to dear Maninas as a part of ”Eating with the season”.

On another note, a few other things have come up, and, at times, I may not be able to respond to your emails as swiftly as I would like to. So please bear with me :-)

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ivy October 20, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Lovely recipe. Is Labra the name of the dish or does it mean something else? Lovely photos as well.

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2 sunita October 20, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Ivy,
That was so quick :-) …labra is the name of the dish.

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3 Mishmash ! October 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm

WOW at ur morning view and labra too….that looks so comforting…I wish u were near my place, to get a taste of assam!!

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4 musical October 20, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Gorgeous view and delicious labra! Sunita, this post is so soothing!

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5 Pravs October 21, 2008 at 2:33 am

i just love those pics of nature.. lovely ! i wish i had that view as i woke up :) That’s a nice veg dish.

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6 Nirmala October 21, 2008 at 3:31 am

This dish looks good and eating the seasonal veggies are what we follow. And the photos are too refreshing!

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7 sra October 21, 2008 at 5:16 am

Saw this on Mandira’s blog too. Need to get the pumpkin and radish, have the rest.

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8 Meeta October 21, 2008 at 9:09 am

lovely pics sug! i love this time of year because we get to experience such beautiful skies! you know i have never heard of labra before! but i like the healthy sound of it!

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9 Jo October 21, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Lovely pictures of fall and what an unusual name for this dish. Looks delicious in any case.

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10 kittie October 21, 2008 at 2:22 pm

beautiful photographs as always sunita – a lovely post.

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11 Madhuram October 22, 2008 at 12:29 am

That’s such a simple yet mouthwatering recipe.

Congrats on the mention in Telegraph Post. I caught a glimpse of this beautiful girl, named Sunita.

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12 Rachel October 22, 2008 at 3:17 am

Gorgeous view to wake up to!

labra looks worth a try! and I did catch a glimpse of you on telegraph….:))

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13 SMN October 22, 2008 at 5:23 am

nice combo of veggies there.. had a query here doesnt mooli gives its smell ? nice name of the dish too:)

when i cook mooli i always discrad the first boiled water.

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14 sunita October 22, 2008 at 5:58 am

shn,
I wish that too, to geta taste of kerala ;-)

musical,
Thanks…hope you’re doing well :-)

pravs,
Thanks…and this is a very common dish in our parts :-)

Reply

15 sunita October 22, 2008 at 6:02 am

nirmala,
Thanks…and yes, it is indeed nice to eat with the seasons.

sra,
Yes,Bengalis make this dish too…do give it a try :-)

meeta,
You do mean sunita, don’t you ;-) …yes, the skies are simply gorgeous during this time of the year. As for not hearing about labra, well, there are so many new things to learn everyday, a lifetime seems so small, doesn’t it :-)

Jo,
Thanks…give it a try…i’m sure you’ll love it :-)

Reply

16 sunita October 22, 2008 at 10:57 am

kittie,
Thanks :-)

madhuram,
Thanks..as for the glimpse”blush” :-)

rachel,
Thanks :-)

smn,
Thanks…as for mooli, i think the taste for it needs to be acquired and we are used to it…moreover, it is not the major ingredient of the dish and is just a small part :-)

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17 Divya Vikram October 22, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Looks gorgeous..perfect for the weather..

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18 Soma November 18, 2008 at 1:52 am

I did not know that this dish was called labra in Assam too. I had posted Labra i think last month and heard from a lot of people that they never heard of it.

Its a comfort food for me, & I love the colors of ur Labra:-)

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19 rajani January 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm

hi sunita. this looks delicious, will definitely make this and will let u know the results :)

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20 themadscientistskitchen December 27, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thanks I wanted to make something typically from Assam. Glad I stumbled here.

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