Taro the terrible

Kachaalu took

Kachaalu took

Today more Sindhi food — a snack, this time, called kachaalu took.

Here is taro. It is a root or tuber, grown underground in the tropics all over the world. Also known as arbi, colocasia, kachaalu, dasheen.

Taro root

Taro root

This is one scruffy guy, as you can see. You are more likely to find it in a vegetable police lineup than in the vegetable swimsuit catalog. But I’m always happy to find it on my plate.

If you read the Wikipedia article I linked to, you might notice one thing — the countries where taro is eaten are all third world countries. This is telling. I don’t know what it is telling me, but perhaps that taro is not glamorous?

In reality this is a pretty healthy vegetable. Its leaves are large and heart-shaped, and can be eaten simply as greens or rolled around a filling. The tuber can be fried, boiled, mashed, sauted, roasted, baked, sauced, or microwaved (as we will see below) in endless variations. But whether you eat the leaves or the tuber, it must be cooked before eating, because it is somewhat toxic when raw.

The recipe below is eaten as snack either with dinner or before. Traditionally this recipe uses the double-fry method, but to make it somewhat healthier, I use the microwave and get quite comparable results. I also shallow, not deep, fry.

Kachaalu took

Ingredients:

  • A few tubers of taro
  • some salt
  • some oil
  • red chili powder
  • dry mango powder, substitute with lime/lemon juice

Method:

Rinse the tubers to get the lose dirt and hair off. Set them in a plate and microwave for about 5-6 minutes or until softened. Wait for them to cool until you can handle them, then pull the peel off. Now slice the tubers into quarter inch thick slices.

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Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. When it shimmers it is time to lay the slices down. Sprinkle with salt as they are cooking. Also press down on each slice with a spatula to a) get it to be in full contact with the hot oil, and b) flatten out a bit to be in even more contact.

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Pretty soon a delicious aroma of browning will arise, most reminiscent of bacon cooking. When you detect browning on the underside (this will take about 3 minutes on high-ish heat) flip each slice over

Sprinkle this side with salt as well. Flatten each slice with a spatula once again. In three more minutes, they will be browned on both sides.

Remove the slices to a plate and sprinkle with red chili powder and dry mango powder (aamchur). The latter adds a very necessary tang to the dish, so if you don’t have it, use lemon or lime juice instead.

I challenge any greasy-spoon diner to compete with this in sheer sinfulness!

Kachaalu took

Kachaalu took

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