Among the favourite indigenous Manipuri cuisines like Ooti, Iromba, Chagempomba, Maroi Thongba, Soibum Thongba/Iromba, Maroi-Bori Thongba (Bori, dried lentil balls cooked with spice plant locally called Maroi Nakuppi (AlliumAdorosum) is also a yummy and delicious cuisine for feasts “Usob” in Manipur. Apart from Maroi thongba, Bori is used in preparation of other cuisines to give better taste.
Bamon Leikai in Imphal east is specially popular for preparation of Bori since most of the families of the locality engaged in the profession. For many families in Bamon Leikai, preparation of Bori is the way of life and an alternative option for income generation. Many hard working women of the locality are taking up the job successfully to supplement their income. Among them, Laishram Ongbi Bina Devi, 54 years, wife of Gopen is also a success entrepreneur who initiated the Bori making job with her husband.
Reviving the legacy
Laishram ongbi Bina Devi is the daughter of Leikhram Thambaljao and Amurei of Kongba Kshetri Leikai. At her 18, she got married to Laishram Gopen of Brahmapur Arubam Laishram Leirak. The family to which Bina married has a long legacy of Bori making since their forefathers. Bina embraced the family legacy of Bori making which helps her in supplementing the family income and to send her children to school and buy good foods for them.
Following the footsteps of her mother in law Lasihram Chaobi (80 years), she started learning the recipe of Bori preparation. Bina and her husband are looking after all the daily activities and workers as her mother in law had retired from the job due to her elderly age.
Bina has also been able to provide jobs to at least, 10 women workers in her locality.
Preparation of Bori
Bori is made from black gram and some other spices like turmeric, mustard oil, cumin powder, coriander powder and hing (Asafetida, a spice derived from the plant Ferula asafetida). Black gram soaked into water in a big container for about 12 hours. After that, the black cover of black gram is peeled off properly. The cover or outer layer of the cereal is then washed away from the cereal. Black gram, cumin powder, coriander powder and hing are grinded. After grinding, they are properly made paste. Then small round shapes (Bori) are made from paste. Little oil (mustard oil) is painted all over the pan to make non sticky.
The small balls made from paste are dropped on a large pan (Kharai) for roasting. Charcoal is burnt in the hearth for drying purpose. The dried pieces of the paste of black gram will become Bori once it is turned over using a stick called “Phakchei”.
Bori making requires good skill
Bina said that Bori making is a tough profession that needs manpower as well expertise. A worker should be skillful in roasting Bori and manage to heat it under a moderate temperature. Otherwise, Excessive or low heating spoil the taste of Bori. It takes a whole day in complete preparation of Bori. Saying that white gram (Shagol hawai Angouba) is not favourable for Bori making, she said that her family have been constantly using only black gram as raw material since forefathers’ time as it gives better taste.
Employment to local people
In her work shed, five women are being engaged in pounding black gram while five in preparation of Bori from paste. One worker is engaged for washing black gram. A worker is paid Rs 15 if she pounds a kg of black gram or prepares one kg of Bori. A worker can earn Rs 300 to 500 a day if she works hard, Bina said.
Charcoal, which normally cost Rs 450 a bag, is another main requisite for roasting Bori. Two bags of Charcoal can last for two days. At least, her farm produces 20 to 30 kgs of Bori at the average enabling to earn Rs 4000-5000 on daily basis. When the demand of Bori is on the rise, the production capacity is doubled up.
Increase of raw material cost affects Bori makers
With the price of black gram which earlier cost Rs 70 inflating to Rs 150 now, the business of Bori makers have been affected. Nowadays, we hardly get much profit after paying wages to the workers. Many families have given up the job as they can no longer sustain with the income from the job. Despite all theses, we have been still embracing the family legacy of Bori making, she said.
The business is seasonal. Durig kang festival and “Usob” (grand feast) season, we can make a good brisk business.
She said that her products touch the areas including Konung Mamang, Kongba, Kakwa, Pishum, Monkhang Lambi, Jiribam etc. Many woman vendors also come and collect her products. There are different varieties of Bori according to size and shape, namely, Matum Taabi (rounded in shape), Apakpi (flat in shape), Eigya Bori and Bori Achouba (bigger in size).
Bori making doesn’t require huge investment. A man can initiate the job with a small investment of around Rs 1500-2000 to buy raw-material like black gram, charcoal, mustard oil, spices.
“For survival, we have to struggle and earn. We need to create self employment so that we should not economically rely to others. What the industrially backward state like Manipur requires is cultivation of work culture and encouragement to entrepreneurs”, she maintained.