Labra, Bengali Ratatouille?11:51 AM
This week proves to be very busy for me. We had 2 back-to-back birthdays, 1 anniversary and finally tomorrow is Saraswati puja. The puja this year is important for us as our son’s writing initiation or hatekhori would be done tomorrow. This is a Bengali tradition where in front of the goddess the priest will introduce the Bengali alphabets to the child. The parents offer flower and pray to the goddess for her blessings to be showered on the child. Our kid is extremely excited. Though not sure but he thinks something important is going to happen to him tomorrow.
After making 2 birth day and 1 anniversary cake and cooking full birthday dinner for my father on his birthday am too tired to get excited about this. But right now am an emotional mush, this happens to me every time he makes me realize that he is growing too fast.
Anyways here is a quick recipe that a reader of mine asked for. Labra is like an Bengali ratatouille or vegetable mishmash. Lots of varieties of vegetables are cooked together with ginger and Bengali five spices till they are soft and coated in their own juice. This is a very basic and simple dish but very rich in flavours. Mostly served on puja days with niramishkhichuri and roasted papad.
Eggplant: 1 cup (thickly sliced)
Carrots: ½ cup (sliced in thick long wedges)
Cauliflower: 1 cup (small separated florets)
Cabbage: ½ cup, thickly chopped
Yard long beans: ½ cup 9cut in 1” pieces
Pumpkin: 1 cup; cut in small cubes
Radish: 1/3 cup (cut in cubes)
Spinach: 11/2 cups (chopped thickly)
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Asafetida or hing: 1/8 tsp
Dry redchillies: 2 pieces
Oil: 1 tbsp (preferably mustard oil)
Prepare the veggies as mentioned above. Wash and keep them separate.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan or a kadhai. Add the panch foron, dry chillies. Once they splutter add the hing. Immediately add the ginger paste mixed with 1 tbsp water and salt. Stir and cook till the water evaporates.
Add the cabbage, radish, carrots and yard long beans. Stir and add turmeric. Cover and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
Uncover and add the rest of the vegetables. Mix and cover. Let it cook on a medium flame. This would get cooked in its own juice. Stir at regular interval till the veggies are soft (8-10 minutes)
Adjust the seasoning and add ½ cup water and sugar to balance the taste. Cover and cook till the water is absorbed and the veggies are coated with the gravy.
This is a dry dish so adjust the water and cooking time as required.
A Homemaker’s notes:
You can also add sweet potatoes, broad beans, drumsticks and potatoes.