“Hey do you have Labra recipe on the blog? I don’t think so!” Mehebub asked and replied to his own question.
It was then I realized so far I have not written a single word about Labra. Needless to say, it took me no time to check whether I have the pictures of famous Bengali delicacy Labra Tarkari in the archive or not. Fortunately, I clicked a few pictures during Saraswati Pujo Which I now can use to complete this post.
Pujor Bhog without Labra!
A typical Bengali Pujor bhog is incomplete without Labra. Those who think Bengali cuisine is dominated by Non-vegetarian dishes, Labda is probably our answer to you. A Bengali mixed-veg cooked without onion and garlic and is believed to be loved by none other than Shri Chaitanyadev himself!
Labra aka Labrar Tarkari, a dish loved by Shri Chaitanyadev himself!
সার্ব্বভৌম পরিবেশন করেন আপনে। প্রভু কহে মোরে দেহ লাফরা ব্যঞ্জনে।।
(Sarbabhoumya please serve me. Prabhu is asking for the Lafra)
Above mentioned lines are from Krishnadash Kabiraj’s Chaitanya Charitamrita’s Madhya Lila. This book talks about the life and Philosophy of Shri Chaitanya Dev (1478- 1533) and also Bhakti Yog. The Madhya lila is all about Prabhu’s middle life and especially the years he spent in Puri Dham. In this chapter, it was found that he liked a certain kind of a dish which was then known as Lafra.
Again, in the same book, another line is found which is referring to the same dish.
প্রভু কহে মোরে দেহ লাফরা ব্যঞ্জনে। পিঠা, পানা, অমৃতগুটিকা দেহ ভক্তগণে।।
According to these lines Prabhu was asking to serve him Lafra while the followers are to be served with Pitha (Sweet dumpling); Pana (Bitel leaf cone); Amritagutika.
Labra Torkari is still cooked at the Nabadwip Thakurbari. The word came from the Bengali word Alabu (অলাবু).
Labra; then and now!
From the beginning, Labra is cooked with different vegetables. Initially Gorbho Mocha was a mandatory ingredient while these days at least when cooked commercially, garbha mocha (Banana Flower) and thor (banana stem) are not used while making Labra. Aloo aka Potato, as well as tomato, are late inclusion as well.
These days, Labra is cooked with Potato, Broad bean, pumpkin, sweet potato, Taro, Eggplant, Plaintain, Radish, etc. In some families, they do not add green such as spinach while cooking labra while in some families they do add the same. In our place, no green is used in making this delicacy. However, I prefer to add Spinach to balance the flavors. So the choice is yours.
Bihari Da; the Rannar Thakur’s take on commercial cooking of Labra!
I talked to a veteran Rannar Thakur (Commercial Bengali cook who is in the business for more than 50 years and a regular at my ancestrial house). Bihari da confirmed Tomato is now used to balance flavors and so is spinach. He even informed that they fry the veggies lightly before cooking. I followed his recipe to get the “Barowari” flavors and it worked.
Here’s how I cook Labra at Debjanir Rannaghar!
- Serves: 6 People
- Serving size: 100g
- Calories: 240
- Fat: 14.1g
- Saturated fat: 5.5g
- Carbohydrates: 27.1g
- Sugar: 9.2g
- Sodium: 470mg
- Fiber: 7.4g
- Protein: 4.2g
- Cholesterol: 11mg
- Potato: 2
- Sweet Potato: 1
- Eggplant: 1
- Radish: 1
- Broad Bean: 4
- Pumpkin: 150g
- Spinach (completely optional): 1 cup (chopped)
- Ridge Gourd: 1
- Cauliflower: 5-6 floret
- Tomato: 1 (Optional)
- Coconut paste: ½ Cup
- Bay leaf: 3
- Dry Red Chili: 2
- Panch Phoron: 1 Tsp.
- Hing/ Asafoetida: ¼ Tsp.
- Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
- Red Chili powder: 1 Tsp.
- Cumin powder: 1 Tsp.
- Sugar: 1 Tbsp.
- Salt: to taste
- Ginger Paste: 1 Tbsp.
- Mustard Oil: 1 Tbsp.
- Cumin seed: ½ tsp.
- Dry Chili: 1
- Bay Leaf: 1
- Fennel Seed: ¼ Tsp.
- Mustard Oil: 2 Tbsp.
- Ghee: 2 Tbsp.
- Peel the skin of Potato, Sweet Potato, Radish, Pumpkin and also Ridge Gourd.
- Cut all those into small cubes inclusive of Eggplant and Tomato as well.
- Now cut bread bean aka sim into small square pieces as well.
- If using chop spinach.
- Dry roast dry chili, bay leaf, fennel seed and also cumin seed for 2 minutes on a flat pan.
- Make a coarse powder of the spices. One Tbsp. Powder will be used in making the Labda.
- Take the Ginger paste and mustard oil along with turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, sugar and also salt in a bowl and make a thick paste.
- Making of Labra!
- Heat oil in a pan and temper the oil with Bay leaf, red chili and also panch phoron followed by asafoetida.
- Now add Potato followed by sweet potato and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Now add rest of the veggies and give a thorough mix.
- Add the spice paste and mix thoroughly.
- Add coconut paste as well.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook till the veggies soften.
- Veggies will release moisture and hence no need to add water.
- Adjust the spices if needed.
- It will take around 15-20 minutes to cook on a low flame the labda.
- Once done add Ghee followed by the Bhaja Moshla and give a generous mix.
- Serve Labra hot with Khichuri.
- The dish should be mushy and without curry.
Ghee can also be substituted with some more mustard oil or Only ghee can be used in making Labra.
Some people fry the veggies beforehand, however, I prefer cooking the veggies together.
No onion no garlic Bengali Recipes aka Bengali vegeterian recipes from Debjanir Rannaghar!
- Tok Dal (Also known as Kancha Aam diye Toker Dal)
- Bori Aloor Jhal (also known as Bengali Bori’r Jhal)
- Lau Shaker Chorchori (also known as Bengali Vegetarian Mishmash with Bottle Gourd Greens)
- Sheemer Jhal (Also known as Bengali Shorshe Sheem or Broad Bean Curry with Mustard Paste)
- Plastic Chutney (also known as Raw Papaya Chutney or Bengali Peper Chutney)
- Rosogollar Dalna (Also known as Roshogollar Torkari)
- Aloo Posto (also known as Aloo Postor Torkari)
- Sada Aloo Chorchori (also known as Bengali Aloo Chorchori)
- Postor Bora (Also known as Bengali Poppy Seed Fritters)
- Bengali Kolai Dal (Also known as Biulir Dal or Bengali Urad Dal)
- Phulkopir Roast (also known as Bengali Roasted Cauliflower!)
- Papor er Dalna (also known as Bengali Papad Curry)
- Bengali Soru Chakli Pithe (Also known as Soru Chakuli Pitha)
- Shukto (Also known as Shuktoni)
- Kumror Chakka (Also known as Bengali Kumror Torkari)
- Narkel diye Niramish Ghugni (Also known as Bengali No Onion No Garlic Ghugni or Yellow Peas Curry with Fried Coconut
- Bengali Niramish Khichuri (Also known as Bhoger Khichuri or Bengali Khichuri)
- Bhaja Moong er Daal (also known as Sona Muger Dal)
- Gur diye Topa Kul ar Tomato Chutney (Also known as Kuler Tok)
- Chanar Dalna (also known as Bengali Cottage Cheese and Potato Curry)
- Aam Kasundi aka Bengali Style Mustard and Mango Sauce
- Katoya Data Chorchori (Also known as Bengali Style Mix-veg with Drumsticks)
- Natun Aloor Dum (Also known as Bengali Niramish Aloor Dum)
- Panch Mishali Tarkari (Also known as Panch Mishuli Tarkari)
- Lomba Dantiwala Begun Bhaja and Gol Muchmuche Begun Bhaja (Also known as Bengali Aubergine fry)
- Lau ar Aloo er Khosa Bhaja (Also known as Stir-Fried Bottle Gourd and Potato Skin/ Peel )
- Dhokar Dalna (Also known as Dhokar Tarkari)
- Koraishutir Kochuri (Also known as Bengali Peas Kachauri)
- Kumro Phuler Bora (Also known as Bengali Pumpkin Flower Fritters)
- Gota Sheddho (Also known as Bwngali Gota Shidho)
- Narkel diye Cholar Dal (Also known as Bengali Cholar Dal)
Have you tried the Labda Torkari recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, on Instagram, you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar and in addition, you can tag me at @foodofdebjani.
Here’s the Labra Recipe Pin for your Pinterest Board!