Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mudru Shamlai/A Mixed Vegetable Stew


A mix of two or more vegetables come together in this dish called mudru. The word translates to bland in my mother tongue, Dimasa. Traditionally this is made with bottle gourd, beans, leafy greens and banana flowers. It is cooked either with the addition of fermented fish or with roasted and ground oil seeds like sesame and pirella. Compared to khari, this is a dish with subtle flavours and just a hint of garlic. This is eaten with rice and other accompaniments. The greens used in this stew can vary from lai to the tender shoots and leaves of bottle gourd, pumpkin, squash/chayote, vegetable fern, amaranth, purslane, Sarchochlamys pulcherrima/mishagi, spinach, tender radish leaves, white goosefoot/chenopodium album and many more varieties.



This mudru was made with a variety of clerodendrum known as mishimou in our language. The leaves have a slight pungent smell and the plant grows wild and in abundance in our region. Many believe that the consumption of the leaves is good for patients with high blood pressure. Most communities in our region use it in alternative healing. The other vegetables that were added were: banana flowers, peas and hyacinth beans. Although this is cooked in plain water, I used chicken stock to enhance the taste of the dish.
Mudru cooked with chicken stock, amaranth& banana flower


Ingredients:
1 small banana flower with pistils removed
1 bunch of mishimou
A few hyacinth beans (string and cut into 2" pieces)
A bowl of peas

2 chillies scored lengthwise
Salt to taste
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp roasted and ground perilla seeds/snem 

Heat the water and stock in a pan. When it comes to the boil add the banana flowers as they take the longest to cook. With the pale longish varieties that are common in the hills, the water used for boiling them need not be discarded. The inner tender-most part of the vegetable can be kept whole as the pistils are not hard and that portion is actually the best part. When the banana flowers are half-done add the rest of the vegetables. These leafy greens take a little longer time to cook than regular greens like spinach or amaranth. Instead of chopping them, we usually twist the leaves and tear them apart.
Add the chillies and season with salt. Keep cooking till the dish becomes a homogenous mix. Then add the ground snem. Garnish with the crushed garlic cloves and remove from the flame.
 Mudru does not have a watery gravy but just enough liquid to mix with rice. Accompaniments like fried potatoes or fried fish work beautifully.

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