Labra -Bengali Mix Vegetable
Peace and happiness. These two words! They seem like my lifelong pursuit! No, they have not eluded me. I have just never learnt their meaning the way I do now. I guess age is not just a chronology after all. Age is the experience, the freedom the experience brings and the liberation from the pursuit of happiness. Or not, for that matter. Happiness is here. Right here. In me.
For all the time I waited for someone else to GIVE me happiness. I thank those times as otherwise I would not have ever seen that it was with me all these whiles. I just needed to make friends with it. Growing up as a ‘good daughter’ who accomplished almost everything she set her mind on made me feel that I was happy as I was making my parents happy. Peace with self didn’t exist. Innocence of childhood did though! It was always my mothers’ pride in me that made me proud of myself. Then I was out of home (too soon maybe but I was ready) and made a home for myself. In Delhi and all by myself. I studied, cooked, cleaned and cooked for my roommate and then friends and then boyfriend. I was happy as I was making everyone around me happy. I accomplished everting but nothing at the same time. My mind always had a mind of her own. Didn’t I ever feel the tingling feeling of discontent with self? I did but like most of us I put that on others. By then for me it was on R. Expectations that I will have my ‘returns’ for the kindness, generosity and time I invested in him. I forgot like in marketplace returns are volatile. Then marriage happened. Oh !! what a drama it created my life. People who shouldn’t have meant anything had the power to decide my days. My pursuit of happiness was the farthest by then. I was tired, exhausted and angry. All the time. My solace was my work and friends at work. A happened. Like a breath of fresh air -her friendship bought life. She challenged everything I have ever been. And then London happened. Nothing changed but the geography, the winter and the colour of the leaf. Noting changed for long long long time. I was the same person with same pursuit. Happiness.
But one fine morning, just like that! I got up from bed and told that this must stop, and it must stop now. The pursuit! I stopped! Instead what I did was I grabbed everything that I valued the most and let go of the rest. It was me whom I valued the most. That was the most honest response I have ever given to myself. I am the root of all my happiness. I am the pursuit! I knew what I expected of me and what I can achieve. And I fulfilled all my expectations. Or at least tried. There was no more disappointment. In the whole process I suddenly looked ruthless, less giving and little heartless too. But all these had their time in my life. Its my time in my life. I am at peace.
You must think why a food blog should have this. To me why not? It is my blog and I will do what I want to do with my space. Anyway, I heard someone called me ‘worthless’. Maybe not to me but to me it seemed like it was directed at me. At first, I didn’t feel anything. But I left a discomfort in my body. I had internalised it I realised. Am I worthless? No, I am not. I am worthy today and yesterday and future! And that’s a decision I make for myself, no one else. The moment I felt that in my body and mind, I could look into the eye of my own discomfort and tell my worth is me so is my happiness.
I walked out of the train station and there! The beautiful rain and the smiling bus driver await me. Happiness and peace is me. And nothing else.
I had few requests for the recipe of Bhoger Khichuri and Labra. I did plan to post them before Durga Puja but that didn’t happen. Lakshmi puja is around the corner. So, I guess it’s not all that late after all. Here is the recipe for Labra the way I cook it. I will not add any measurement to the recipe as I mostly do not cook with measurement. Please go by your taste bud. It is one of the tastiest and the simplest of Bengali vegetable recipe. I make it often at home to eat with rice or roti too. A little bit of rice, labra, mosur dal and gondhoraj lebu -life is perfect.
- 1 Big Aubergine/Begun
- 1 big and long Radish
- 500 gm Pumpkin
- 5/6 Potatoes
- 1 Sweet Potatoe
- 200 gm French Bean
- 200 gm Yardlong Bean ( borboti)
- 300 gm flat bean/Sheem
- 10/12 Pointed gourd/Potol
- 1 small Cauliflower
- 15 Okra/Bhendi
- 4/5 green chili
- 2 inch Fresh Ginger Paste
- Salt to taste
- 3 Tablespoon Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Panchphoron Equal portion mix of mustard seed, cumin seed, Nigela seed, fenugreek seed, Coriander seed
- 1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 Teaspoon Cumin powder
- 1 Teaspoon red chilli powder
- Sugar to taste
- 2/3 Bayleaf
- 2/3 Carrot
- 2/3 dry red chili
- Wash the vegetable
- Cut them in sizes so that they do not mush up in the process of cooking. I diced them and left the orka full cutting the top, as they tend to become mushy anyway
- Heat oil in the big karahi
- Add Bay leaf , dry red chilli and panchphoron
- Once the bay leaf change colour and there is smell of panchphoron and chilli coming from oil, add all the vegetables except okra, cauliflower and pumpkin
- Add ginger paste , cumin powder, turmeric power and salt of top of the vegetable and cover the karahi
- The vegetable will start to get cooked with steam from the covered karahi and will release water . keep stirring occasionally so that you are aware how much it has been cooked and if water needed to be added. keep stirring as this will mix the spices with all the vegetable nicely
- Once vegetables are mostly cooked add the cauliflower, orkra and pumpkin and give a good stir and cover the karahi
- Add sugar as per your taste and let the vegetable cook and become mushy ( thats why its call Labra) mushy vegetable. Add gree chillis too
- check if the oil has separated and vegetables are broken and mushy and well cooked. Taste for salt and sugar
- Serve with Khichuri or boiled rice and slice of lemon
- The spices are roughly measured . Specially add ginger if you feel the heat or smell of ginger is not there
- You can use more or less vegetables but I always add radish to my labra for the smell
- Cutting the vegetable has method as my ma says but I just cut them
- Don not worry if the vegetables are mushy. That is how they should be
- you can add sliced coconut and fried peanut to give it different taste. I do not use like to use them. I like the pure taste of Labra