For Bengali New Year (Noboborsho), I have for you Labra, a traditional vegetarian breakfast curry that is made in both Bangladesh and Calcutta, India for the new year. This recipe is like no other veggie curry that you’ve tried, guaranteed!
This week marks the New Year in Bengali, Sinhalese and Tamil cultures. Each of these rich cultures has unique recipes made especially for this festival, and we want to share some of these recipes with you through the week.We’re starting the New Year’s Special Week by stepping into Bengal.
Shubho noboborsho! This is how we say ‘Happy new year’ in Bengali, marked with the first month ‘Boishakh’. Noboborsho (New year) is the time to dress up in red and white, go to fairs, indulge in fermented rice with fish, sweets and my favourite ‘labra’ and ‘luchi’! Labra is a mixed vegetable curry – it may sound uninspiring but its flavours are anything but!
Pumpkins and potatoes are a must – the rest can be any veggies that you may have at home. My personal favourite combination is pumpkin, potato, spinach, cauliflower (including their leaves) and eggplant (aubergine).
What transforms this vegetable curry into the ultimate veggie delight is the whole spice mix ‘paach phoran’ (or panch phoron) traditionally used in Bengali cuisine. It literally means 5 spices. It’s a mixture of mustard seeds, fennel, cumin, nigella (kalaunji) and fenugreek. Paach phoron elevates chutneys, curries and daals to gourmet dishes. I’m excited to share more recipes using this spice mix in the near future.
Baghar / Tadka is what is known as tempering. Whole spices are tempered in oil (or ghee) to release their flavours. This method is used to add aromatic flavours to vegetables, daal and other dishes.
Labra is also traditionally made for ‘puja’ (Hindu prayers) in both Bangladesh and Calcutta. I haven’t had the opportunity to indulge in Bengali Puja feasts but my mother fondly recounts memories of her yearly experiences of lavish amounts of vegetables, rice, sweets and other Puja delicacies.
Now, I love eating labra with luchi (puri), a deep fried puffed bread (Luchi recipe here). But you can also eat it with plain rice, khichri, paratha…really anything you desire.
I’m looking forward to labra and luchi for breakfast. Enjoy the festive new year’s week with friends and family!
Labra is a unique Bengali mixed vegetable curry that is enjoyed with rice or bread. It uses a defined mix of spices to give it a unique flavour that is truly Bengali.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp mustard oil or replace with vegetable oil
- 1 tsp Paach Phoron Bengali 5 whole spice mix
- Pinch of Hing (asafoetida)
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1/2 green chilli
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp ginger, grated
- 4 cups mixed vegetables pumpkin, potatoes, cauliflower, cauliflower leaves, eggplant, spinach, carrots
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 dried red chilli
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
Heat the oils then temper the paach phoron, hing and the chillis.
Add coriander, cumin and turmeric powders followed by 1/4 cup water.
Add grated ginger, saute for a minute.
Add the mixed vegetables and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Add 1 cup water, milk and the salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
Make the baghar / tadka and directly add to the vegetables.
Add the ghee and sugar, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve while hot with puri or white rice or khichdi. Enjoy!
Heat the oil and temper all ingredients for 1 minute.
Watch how to make Labra