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Khorisa is an ethnic ingredient used in Assamese cuisine. Essentially, it is grated bamboo shoots in raw, fermented or pickled form.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bottle Gourd Khar (Pani/Jati Lau Khar)

Traditionally, a Khar (alkali) dish kickstarts an Assamese meal. In fact, people refer to Assamese people as khar khuas not for nothing - we eat khar dishes prepared from raw papaya (previous khar post), cucumber, and just about anything. Recently I tried my hand at this authentic Assamese dish with bottle gourd (pani/jati lau).

Although the process of cooking both the khar dishes – previous post and this one – is more or less the same, the khar ingredient used in both is different – baking soda (in the previous one) and water obtained after soaking smoked/burnt dried banana peel overnight( in this one).

How to get your Khar ingredient: Sun-dry for some days the peels from seeded-bananas ('bhim kal' in Asaamese) until they turn black. Now take a sun-dried banana peel and burn it in your gas oven. Then soak the ashes in potable water overnight. Next morning, as the water turns tea-like and the ashes gather at the bottom, filter the water in a separate vessel. One or one-and-a-half cup is enough for your preparation.

• One dried peel of seeded-banana
• Half bottle gourd cut into medium-sized chunks
• Five-six garlic pods
• One finely chopped onion (optional)
• One tablespoon oil
• Two dried red chili
• One green chili
• A pinch of mustard seeds
• Salt to taste

Method: Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, dried red chilies followed by the chopped onion and garlic pods. When the onions take a reddish hue, add the bottle gourd; add salt too. Cook for some time. Then add the cup of water (khar); very soon the water gourd will turn pulpy. Cut the green chili on top. Remove from stove. Your water gourd khar is ready!
Note: If you use turmeric powder to the preparation, it’ll take on a reddish color that may not be to your liking – so avoid it!

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