Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Laakhamari (Newari Ceremonial Sweet Bread) - लाखामरी

Laakhamari (Newari Ceremonial Sweet Bread) - लाखामरी
Laakhamari is described as a crunchy-flaky texture bread, prepared for special ceremonial occasions.  The sweet bread resembles a coiled, round, large twisted-rope shaped (like wreath) and is prepared from rice, wheat flour, and black gram lentils.

The special bread comes from the Newar community, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the capital valley of Kathmandu, who have an important cultural tie in the country.  Although laakhamari is typical Newari sweet bread, it has gained popularity with many other Nepalese ethnic group over the years.

The ingredients and preparation techniques of laakhamari is an ancient culinary art, which has been passed down orally for centuries.  As a traditional festive dish, it is specially prepared during Newari wedding ceremonies.  Before the formal marriage ceremony, (gwe), the family members of the groom party signals the approval of the forthcoming marriage by sending freshly prepared laakhamari, with other sweets, fruits, and flowers to the prospective bride's family.  At the auspicious occasion, laakhamari is also given to relatives and friends to announce the wedding.  The size and the shape of the bread varies, with larger ones sent to closer relatives to honor them and smaller ones sent to the invited guests.

Laakhamari is prepared with pre-soaked and ground rice, ground black urad beans, wheat flour, butter, and water.  All the ingredients are mixed together to form a pourable batter.  It is then shaped into round coiled design, deep-fried in a large Nepali frying pan until light golden brown.  The finished product is allowed to rest before it is glazed with light icing to create translucent satiny finish.  The sweet bread is delicious by itself or  served with other ceremonial foods.  The bread keeps well for at least a month at room temperature. 

 
Making this bread at home is glorious undertaking.  It is time-consuming and requires extra effort, equipment, and skills.  It may take more than a couple of hours to prepare just one laakhamari  even for skilled cook.  These days, the bread is not often prepared at home, but pre-made laakhamari can be found at specialty sweet shops (Haluwai ko Pasal) or can be made to order.  Some traditional sweet shops has been owned and operated by the same family for generations and they take pride in their bread.

I have never tried to make this bread at home, but only watched how it is made in the sweet shops, and wanted to give a brief description about a centuries-old traditional art form.


Photo of unglazed laakhamari bread
 Glazed laakhamari bread
Traditional Newari Mari displayed at The Yetkha Mithai Pasal (south of Naradevi temple) -  I would like to thank Mr. Suresh Balami, and his brother Gyanu Balami.... for taking their valuable time to show me how to make laakhamari bread.
Preparation - making sure the batter is in right pouring consistency.
... batter goes into a home-made (re-usable) double-strength piping bag.
 ... when the oil has reached its correct temperature - all ready to go.

... squeezing and pressing the batter - first into round shape.

... then coil-shaped rounds - it is awesome watching the shaping of laakhamari..... excellent job Mr. Gyanu Balami!

...  took him less than 1 minute to finish the process.
... frying until golden brown.
... let it fry.....bubble, bubble..
Special order of laakhamari bread - is being prepared for a local wedding ceremony.
The finished product is allowed to rest before before it is glazed.
Waiting in a line to be glazed
Display of laakhamari and other sweets at  Shree Purna Ashok Bhandar, Maru Tole - one of the oldest sweet shop in Kathmandu
Smaller size laakhamari
"Sweet Tooth in Nepal" by Leah Olson - December 2010 ECS Magazine - very informative article on this traditional delicacy -  please click here to read more.. ......

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5 comments:

  1. Great write-up.

    Laakhamari are my favorite and I always keep a supply at arms reach.

    Loving all the work you are doing to promote Nepali cuisine.

    -Ujjwal

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  2. Hi, Can you please write about jhomrey.. a sweet rice.

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    Replies
    1. Does any of my blog readers have heard about jhomrey (sweet rice)?

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  3. Nice write up. My only concern is your use of a Hindi word 'urad' instead of saying kaalo daal.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting. Vigna mungo - in Nepal we call it mas ko daal, black gram, black lentil -- in Sanskrit the lentil is called masa (माष) and in Hindi is is called Urad and sold in my local store in three forms, split with skin (kalo dal), split without skin (chata ko daal), whole (singo Maas)

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