~By Jasingfa Gogoi
Khar (alkali) is synonymous with Assamese cuisine. Originally, it is an exotic liquid strained from sun-dried banana skin and cooked with a seasonal vegetable like papaya (omita), water gourd (panilau) or mustard greens (laihaak). Enjoyed as a starter, one of the most popular and easy-to-cook khar dishes is prepared with papaya. The dish has health benefits and is considerably beneficial for digestion.
- A small raw papaya (cut into medium sized chunks)
- Ginger , garlic , chilli and onion
- Khar (alkaline) as per the quantity of papaya (two table spoon)
- Salt to taste
- Chopped coriander leaves
- One table spoon mustard oil
The cooking method may vary from person to person; here’s my recipe for this simple yet delicious Assamese dish.
Heat the mustard oil in a frying pan. Then add diced onion, ginger and garlic paste and diced chilli or as whole in the oil and stir them for a while , then add papaya, salt and cook for sometime. Now add the Khar, cook them for sometime and then add hot water. Cover with a lid and heat the vegetables further. When they become soft, sprinkle them with coriander leaves. Your papaya khar dish is ready to serve.
(Optional: you may also add red chilli (lalmirch) powder if you wish.)
Tip: Turmeric powder shouldn’t be used here since it gives a reddish color to the preparation.
Best served when it is cooled, serve with rice.
Do give it a try and let me know in the comment section; don’t miss to try this super delicious and super healthy authentic dish from Assam, Northeast.