Chorchori and labra are some of the rare delicacies in the midst of an otherwise non vegetarian fare. Almost every Bengali is forever accused of digging his or her hands into Bengali food names such as maccher jhol, kosha mangsho, mudhi ghonto or chingri maacher malai curry, but rarely does a non-Bengali person talk of the above two. Both chorchori and labra are relatively simple names for their highly complex flavours.
Let’s Talk about Chorchori
Chorchori makes use of panch phoron (five spices- fennel seeds, cumin seeds, randhuni, nigella or kalonji, and fenugreek seeds.) More than one type of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, brinjal and bitter gourd, pumpkin are added to panch phoron and oil, along with turmeric (the actual vegetables added are as per the chef’s whim). But this Bengal Indian cuisine has been prepared and is majorly popular in West Bengal. The other variant, or labra, has originated from East Bengal, or the current Bangladesh.
How Labra is different?
Interestingly, the spices used in labra are also the same as the ones used in chorchori. The primary difference is in the way similar kind of vegetables are served. In the labra Bengali recipe, they are cooked in a manner such that they do not retain their shapes. On the contrary, the mixed vegetables retain their shapes in chorchori.
It is said that the Bengali food chorchori got its name from the sound produced while cooking the same. Vegetables make a spluttering sound during the cooking process, heard as “chor chor”- thereby the name. The addition of oil is more liberal here as compared to labra, and vegetables are often fried in the beginning.
Every Bengali household has its own way of cooking chorchori and labra. Most households in India tend to cook only the former. However, it is said that the combination of khichudi (watery rice and lentil preparation) with labra is truly divine.
Author: Mrs. Reema Tarafdar