Thursday, March 22, 2018

Getting to the Root: Taro ~ Arbi ki sabzi

A native to India, the root vegetable Taro is recognized to have originated in southern India. Oddly Nigeria is the top producer of this vegetable and India is not even in the top 5!
Like any root vegetable it likes deep, moist, swampy type soil to grown in....very tropical indeed. There are over 25 varieties and the most common one in India are the small sized ones that range from 1.5-3 inches in length.

Arbi ki Sabzi - Taro root in yoghurt gravy

I cook this vegetable quite often as the boys enjoy this vegetable lightly spiced and plenty roasted, but then there are days when I like to make it gravy style so that we can have it along with roti or rice. I often surprise guests with the recipe I'm sharing today and tends to draw much curiosity and a new found appreciation for the vegetable that often stumps people on how to cook it!

Couple of important things to keep in  mind is that the tuber has a mildly gooey texture on the outer surfac after cooking.
  1. Choose even sized taro or arbi, so that they cook evenly.
  2. Boil the arbi in water for 6-10 minutes depending upon the quantity.
  3. Peel the skin off and then cut in even sized pieces.
  4. Roasting the arbi gives it a crisp exterior and is perfect to use in the Air-fryer.
  5. Finally, some varieties can give you an mildly itchy/tingely senstations in your palms while peeling so just lighly grease your palms and add some sour agent like, amchur, lime juice or tamarind water while further cooking the tuber to neutralize the oxalates.
Arbi ki sabzi in a thali meal: Raita, Arbi, stirfried mixed vegetables, thepla, pickle and chutney

Arbi ki Sabzi
500 gms Arbi or Taro root
2 tbsp cornstarch/arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp haldi/turmeric
1 cup curd or yoghurt
1 cup water
1 tbsp besan/ gram flour
2-4 cloves
1/2 tsp ajwain/ carom seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp amchur powder/dry mango powder
1/2 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
1/8 tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tbsp ghee
Oil for shallow frying
1 Green chilli, slit
Salt to taste
Juice of one small lime
Coriander leaves for garnish

Boil the arbi in water for 6-8 mintures or until they are soft enough to pierce with a knife. Cool, peel and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat with cornstarch and salt and shallow fry in a pan until pale gold in colour. Remove and set aside.

Blend to a thick puree the curds, water and besan and set aside.

Heat a kadhai with ghee and add the cloves, jeera, and carom seeds and allow it to sputter. Add the hing, turmeric, ginger and red chilli powder. Add the curd puree, lower heat and cook for 6-8 minutes until it comes to a soft simmer, add a bit more water if you want the gravy to be thinner, add salt and the pan fried arbi. add a slit chilli and cook for another minute or two and then add lime juice and coriander leaves and turn off the flame. Serve hot with phulka rotis or any bread of your choice. 

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