Among many traditional and indigenous recipes and food of Assam, Khar (Alkali) is very popular in every Assamese household. Along with many healthy reasons Khar tastes really good and can be prepared with a wide variety of ingredients. Basically the Assamese khar recipe includes almost all vegetables and pulses. One common preparation is with vegetables like Papaya, fish head, Mati mahor daali or Urad Daal, etc. Here I shall share with you Assamese Khar recipe, Cabbage cooked with Khar ,bondhakopi di khar as it is said in Assamese.
What is Khar (Alkali) and how is it prepared?
Well, Assamese Khar is an alkali and something similar to your sodium bicarbonate. It is prepared from the ashes of banana peels which is called “Kola Khar” or sometimes the trunk part is also used and it is also called as “Kol Poshola’r Khar”. The Assamese people are quite fond of eating Khar and consume it quite often.
Fondly they are called as “Khar Khuwa Axomiya” in Assamese. It means people who eat Khar. It’s a signature item of Assam you can say. Generally, the peels of a variety of Banana called as “Bhim Kola” is used in Assam for preparation of Khar. After preparation, it can be stored for many days. But the longer it is kept it loses its strength.
You can also make Khar at home. For that, you need to peel the Banana and sun dry it. Next burn the dried peels. After burning gather all the ashes and soak it overnight in water. Take a muslin cloth and separate the ash from water. The water that is collected is Kola Khar.
For making posola khar all you need is to get the white cylindrical stem portion of the Banana tree. This is widely available in all Indian local markets and especially in markets of Assam and Bengal.
There are a lot of Bengali dishes prepared with Kola’r Bhaarali as it is called in Bengali. You need to sun dry this portion and later burnt it. The collected ashes are soaked in earthen pots and later the Khar is collected.
This is a long procedure and generally followed in village areas or those who have Banana trees in their courtyards. But for people like us who stays in apartments and it’s not easy to grow banana trees the local markets are always open.
In Assam even ready-made Khar is sold in local markets, one need not worry about its availability. I get my stock of Khar from my cousin who is married in a Bodo family. Her family prepares it in their village home and from there she supplies me some. Lucky ain’t I?
I know a lot of people who have stayed all their life in Assam but had never tasted even a basic assamese Khar preparation. My sister too doesn’t like the taste of khar. She did try once just to have the taste. But I like to have a taste of each and everything and particularly of that stuff indigenous to my state.
Khar also has great digestive qualities. It helps in cleaning the stomach. It is said that hair washed with Khar brings a good shine and works as a natural cleanser.
Both in Bengal and Assam, the Banana tree is one such thing that from fruits to trees each and every part is an integral part of culture and lifestyle. The Banana leaves are used for serving food, trees are used in auspicious ceremonies and rituals and the fibre rich fruits are delicious to eat and healthy too.
Assamese Khar Recipe -Cabbage cooked with Khar
So now let’s begin with the simple recipe of Cabbage cooked with Khar. You need just a few ingredients and it is basically a zero oil recipe. It’s good for health and tastes delicious. This recipe is shared by a dear friend whom I met on Instagram.
For the Ingredients
- Few leaves of cabbage (I use the ones that are a less tender)
- 4-5 cloves of garlic. You can chop it or use one teaspoon garlic paste.
- 2-3 teaspoons of Khar. If you are using Khar for the first time, it’s better to just 2-3 teaspoon.
- 2-3 teaspoon of rice-powder and make a paste with it. This is also called a Pitha-guri in Assamese as Rice powder is widely used for making Pithas in Assam.
- Pitha Guri is available in the market or you can make your own by soaking some in water and grinding later.
- 1-2 chopped green chillies
- One teaspoon oil just for greasing the pan/wok
- Salt to taste.
The method is very easy and quick. Cooking time is 20 minutes and Serves – 2
At the beginning take out 5-6 layers of cabbage. And you can chop it roughly. This recipe is quite perfect if you want to use those leftover older leaves of cabbage. Now take a pan or wok and heat one tea-spoon of oil. This oil as I have said is used just for the greasing purpose.
You can use mustard oil and it has it’s own health benefits. Now add the chopped garlic or paste and also the chopped green chillies. Next add the chopped cabbage leaves, salt as per taste and keep on stirring for some time. You need to keep frying until the cabbage leaves are cooked properly. You can cover with a lid.
Next add 2 cups of water and let the leaves boil properly. Now add the rice-powder paste that you have prepared and cover the wok with a lid. Now add 2 teaspoon of Khar to it. Let it cook for some more time. Ensure the water gets evaporated after some time. At the end you shall get a thick consistency.
Well, Cabbage cooked with khar is ready to it. You need not add any more species like turmeric, chilly powder or cumin powder to it. It shall taste very good. Do try at least once.
Once it gets ready you can serve with hot steamed rice. Hope you liked this post. Do share with all your friends and loved ones.
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