Sukhi arbi masala, the dry sabzi or spicy pan-fried taro roots, charred, nice and crispy and coated in flavorful blend of spices, with hint of tanginess to it which I am so fond of and how I wish I could replicate the smoky flavours of roasted taro roots or kochu as we call it in Bengali.
Taro roots or arbi are one of the most ancient cultivated crops and in India it is essentially a monsoon produce but in my home these were never bought during monsoon because of me as I was sensitive or allergic to this roots. The monsoon rains makes it more allergic and I could not eat it because of constant itching at my throat and even in hands. Though the roots are water-loving, grows mostly in swamps and wetlands but I guess when it comes to the taste, water is still the bad choice.
So winter become the season to enjoy the taro roots at my home, the dry season and probably will have less water content in the roots. Winter was also the season when our old sigree / hearth will make its seasonal appearance. The par boiled taro roots were coated with spices and oil and then left on the bed of slow heating charcoal fire to roast till it gets a nice charred look.
The popularity of taro or kochu in Bengali cuisine – Kochu is one of the favourite food for Bengali, and there exist three to four different types of taro roots, all have their signature way to cook the particular type. Some are enjoyed with tiny shrimps and the others are with hilsa head.
Bengali’s fondness for kochu or arbi is perhaps ingrained deep in the history, geography and culture of the region. The Bengal was part of and still it is but the definition has now changed due to rapid urbanization, Sunderban deltaic region. The marshy mangrove swamps offers limited options to its inhabitants. While the diet was largely consisted of hunted wild boars and hare, the women used to wade ponds and marshlands to forage for aquatic plants and shell-fish, small fishes, tiny shrimps, mud crabs and mollusc.
The swamps were dug out for arum root and likes and the leaves were boiled and mashed with shrimps to make a paste that they can relish with rice, the prickly spiciness of green chillies and raw mustard oil will make it the most treasured food for them. These roots were part of human diet since the pre-historic times and as we progressed and evolved through ages, we become aware of its potentiality as medicinal plant and nutritional benefits.
Benefits of taro roots – Taro roots are starchy and rich source of carbohydrates, more than that present in regular potatoes. But its nutritional benefits are immense, and hence supremely qualified as “Paleo food”. Many believes that it purifies the blood and a good source of potassium that will keep our heart healthy and functional.
How to overcome the food allergy of arbi / taro root – The food allergies has no remedies as such adding any acidic ingredient to it while preparing the taro roots works best. You can absolutely skip the garlic here, but since I devour the burnt flavor of roasted garlic, hence I have used it here. The taro roots are slimy in nature, so to make it little crisper I have used the chickpeas flour or besan. The pan seared taro roots are good to go as snack or you can enjoy it with roti or paratha, feel free to toss some ghee over it. You will love that smoky aroma.
Spicy pan-fried taro roots or sookhi arbi masala fry that goes well with roti or parathalike Indian bread or can be enjoyed as snacks too.
- 250 gm Taro roots / arbi /kochu / colocasia / arum roots
- 10-12 cloves Garlic
- 3-4 Dry red chillies
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp Ajwain seeds / carom seeds
- 1/2 tsp Ginger grated
- 2 tsp Chickpea flour /besan
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp Chilli powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp Tamarind paste /amchur or dry mango powder/ lime
- 3 tbsp Mustard oil / or any vegetable oil
- Curry leaves handful
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp Ghee
Wash and boil the taro roots till just cooked through. Peel the taro roots and rub thetaro roots well with salt and turmeric. Let it sit for 10- 15minutes.
In a pan heat the oil, temper it with mustard seeds, dry red chillies, ajwain seeds and curry leaves.
Add the garlic cloves and roast it for couple of minutes till it attains a beautiful brown hue.
Add the taro roots and fry on medium heat.
Sprinkle the chickpea flour or besan over it, keep sauteing it.
In a small bowl mixthe grated ginger, all the spices and tamarind paste and blend itwell.
Add this to the taro roots and keep frying it.
Check for salt and seasonings.
Cover, lower the heat to minimum and steam cook till done.
Stir in a spoonful of ghee over it, if using and serve hot with roti or paratha.
If you love stir frying the vegetables, you can also check this – stir fried ivy gourds or tindora and