Since I posted the recipe of “bhoger Khichuri” couple of years back, I received many requests from the readers to share the recipe of “Labra”. Labra is a Bengali mixed vegetable dish where different varieties of vegetables are cooked together with minimum spices. It's a very basic and simple Bengali vegetable dish, where the ingredients “Panchforon” (the Bengali five spices) play the magic role behind its deliciousness. On many Bengali Puja occasions, Labra is served during lunch time along with Khichuri.
The main vegetables that are used in this dish are Pumpkin, potato/ sweet potato, spinach, and eggplants. You can add more seasonal vegetables to it as much as you can. All the vegetables are cooked together until it becomes mishmash and they lose their individual identity and flavor.
Though the name of this dish doesn’t sound good, it’s really tasty and healthy. Probably one of the very few healthy dishes in Bengali cuisine. Though Labra is associated with Puja, you can serve it on a regular day, especially on a rainy day with Kichuri. Since my hubby is a big fan of this dish, I make it quite frequently at home.
Recipe of Labra (Bengali Mixed Vegetable)
Potato / Sweet potato: 1 cup, peeled and cut into cubes
Cauliflower florets: 1 cup
Cabbage: 1 cup, thickly chopped
Carrot: 1 cup, cut lengthwise
Pumpkin: 1 cup, cut into cubes
Beans: 1/2 cup, cut into 1" pieces
Cauliflower stems: 1 cup (optional), cut lengthwise
Radish: 1/3 cup, chopped
Eggplant: 1 cup, cut into big cubes
Spinach: 1 and a half cups, chopped
Oil: 3-4 tablespoons
Dry Red Chilies: 2
Bay leaves: 2
Panchphoron / Bengali five spices: 1 teaspoon
Ginger paste: 1tablespoon
Turmeric powder: 1/2 teaspoon
Salt: to taste
Sugar: if needed
1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom big pan. Add whole red chilies, bay leaves, and panchphoron. Once it starts to splutter add the vegetables one by one. First, add the hard vegetables like potatoes, then add pumpkin, radish, then cauliflower and cabbage. Then add carrot and beans. Saute the veggies on a medium flame.
2. Add the ginger paste and turmeric. Mix it well together. Now add the eggplants. Stir it and cook on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach.
3. Stir it well and add salt. The vegetable will release lots of water and it will get cooked in its own water. Cover the pan. Stir at a regular interval until the vegetables are well cooked. Open the cover and cook it till the water is absorbed and the veggies are coated with gravy. Check the seasoning. Add more salt if it is needed. Add 2-3 green chilies (optional). If you want, can add sugar 1/2 teaspoon. Turn off the gas and serve hot Labra with Khichuri.