Taro the terrible escapes again

Taro chaat

Taro chaat

…with some excellent results. I have before made note of taro root‘s scruffy appearance and its delectable nature. In this appetizer from my Sindhi childhood, taro shines with a few well-chosen accompaniments. This dish can go as a side with any Indian meal, or have it in the evening during a chaat and tea session.

Taro chaat


  • 2 or so medium-sized taro tubers
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind chutney
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro leaves
  • Quarter teaspoon salt
  • Quarter teaspoon red chili powder
  • Half a teaspoon cumin seeds


Rinse the taro and microwave it for about 5 minutes. Now it will be softened inside. When it cools, peel it to reveal the creamy white flesh. Cube it into quarter-inch wide cubes and save in a bowl.

Put in the cilantro and onion. And one is supposed to ‘layer the salt’ so go ahead, add enough salt for this amount of ingredients and stir. This will be about a quarter of a teaspoon but use your judgment.


Now put in the prepared tamarind chutney. Now. A slight digression about tamarind chutney is forthcoming.

You can make tamarind chutney the easy or hard way. The hard way uses the dried pods of tamarind, either peeled and made into a block, or the pods themselves. Either way this method requires a lot of soaking and squeezing with your fingers to get the pulp out. So I tend to use a shortcut method — tamarind paste is the one thing I do buy prepared from the store. I use tamarind paste, and this is a good recipe for tamarind chutney using the paste. If you want, you can add a couple dried dates, chopped fine.

Roast the cumin seeds in a hot, dry pan for a minute or two, till they turn a shade darker, and grind to a rough powder in a clean coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

Top the tamarind with the red chili powder, and the cumin powder, stir well, and you are done.

This makes enough for one person as a largish side, but is easily multiplied. Oh — and if you don’t possess tamarind or have a special hatred for it, you could substitute with a similar amount of lime juice.