Chembu (Colocasia) is a root vegetable. The leaves are so large that this vegetable is also called as Elephant Ear. The other popular names are Taro, Arbi in Northern India and, Chembu in the Southern India especially Kerala and Tamilnadu. Even the leaves are used for cooking various dishes. Taro root is an exceptionally healthy food, filled with numerous nutrients like vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and antioxidants. Taro roots help in controlling blood sugar, improving digestion, boosting immune systems, improving vision etc. A few cautionary requirements are: Taro roots comprise of calcium oxalate in a needle-shaped crystal form. This can produce a burning sensation and irritation when handled with bare hands or consumed in its raw form. Hence, one should wear gloves while cooking it. Taro root consumption may cause the formation of kidney stones and gout, accompanied by some other health issues. Hence, proper boiling of the roots for an extended period is advised. We will see here a dish prepared in the South Indian culinary design. It is a spicy gravy which goes very well with steamed rice.
Chembu (Colocasia or Taro Root) – 400 Gms (Peeled and cut into pieces)
Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp
Fenugreek Seeds – few
Onion – 1 (sliced)
Curry Leaves – from 2 sprigs
Pearl Onion – 15
Garlic Pods – 6
Ginger – 1 inch long piece
Salt – to suit one’s taste
Turmeric Powder – ¼ tsp
Red Chili Powder – 2 tbsp
Kudam Puli (Garcinia Cambogia/ Malabar Tamarind) – 2 pieces (washed soaked in water for ½ hour)
Jaggery – 1 small piece
Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
Pearl Onion – 8 (sliced)
Curry Leaves – from 2 sprig
Wash the Chembu (Colocasia or Taro Root) very well till all the mud particles sticking to it are completely washed off. Wipe the water from them. Peel off the skin with a peeler or a knife. Cut them into pieces.
Heat the Coconut Oil in a pan. Add Fenugreek seeds and stir for a few seconds. Add Onion and Curry Leaves. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes in low medium flame.
Crush the Pearl Onion, Ginger and Garlic together. Add them to the above. Cook for 2 more minutes till the Onion turns light golden.
Add Salt and Turmeric Powder. Roast for a minute. Add the Red Chili Powder. Roast for 3 to 4 minutes in low flame. Do not burn it.
Add the Kudam Puli (can be substituted with tamarind extract) along with the water. Add 3 more cups of water. When it starts boiling, add the Chembu (Colocasia). Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes covered with a lid till the Chembu is cooked soft. Do not allow them to become mushy. The gravy will turn medium thick by this time. Add the Jaggery to balance the spiciness and the tanginess.
In the meanwhile, heat the Coconut Oil for tempering. Roast the sliced Shallots in it for 2 to 3 minutes in low flame. Add the Curry Leaves and roast for one more minute. Transfer this tempering to the boiling Chembu Curry. Simmer for a minute.
Switch off the flame and transfer the curry to a serving bowl.
- You can adjust the Chilli Powder as per your needs. Use Chilli Powder which is less spicy. Else you can mix Kashmiri Chilli Powder with the Regular Chilli Powder to reduce the spiciness.
- I used the Kudam Puli given by my friend from Kerala. If you are buying it from stores, there may be some burnt smell. It is better to wash the Puli and then soak and use.
- You can also use Tamarind if you do not get Kudam Puli.