Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers and native to Southeast Asia. It is a perennial, tropical plant primarily grown as root vegetable for its edible starchy corm and is considered staple in African, Oceanic and Asian cultures. Taro root is a starchy tuber vegetable that looks like, and can be used similar to, a potato. It does, however, have a hairy outer coating on its surface that is similar to the coating on a coconut. Because of this, when preparing to use a taro root, the root's outer skin must first be removed.
This procedure is easy to do. However, some individual's can acquire a skin irritation towards the juices that are secreted by the taro root as its skin is being removed. Therefore, to be on the safe side, when peeling a taro root's skin, use protective rubber gloves.
Additionally, because taro root can be toxic in its raw state, always cook it before using. Taro root (colocasia) is said to have originated in the Indo-Malayan regions, perhaps the eastern India and Bangladesh and spread eastward into the Southeast Asia, Eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands, westward to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean and then southward and westward from there into East Africa and West Africa from hence it spread to the Caribbean and Americas.
A taro root can be grown on both dry and wet land, as in a bog. The type of taro root that is used to grow in wet lands can also grow on dry land. This is not the case, however, with the type of taro root that is cultivated to grow specifically on dry land.
This dry land taro root typically has a dark purple skin and white roots. Additionally, it contains a moist flesh inside. Although taro roots are grown year round, they are typically harvested in the fall. This is because they reach their peak in maturity then.
Taro roots can be used as an alternative to potatoes. They do, however, have somewhat of a nut-like flavour when cooked. Common uses for taro roots include frying, baking, roasting, boiling, or steaming them as an accompaniment to meat dishes. They are also often used in soups or stews. Additionally, vegetarians have found the cooked taro root to be a delicious addition to meals such as antipasto salads that include endives, peppers, tomatoes, chicory, and fresh herbs.
Another reason that the taro root has gained in popularity for cooking purposes is because its starch is easily digestible. Additionally, taro roots are extremely nutritious as they provide a good source of fiber, contain a high amount of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, and supply approximately 95 calories per adult serving.
The leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C and contain more protein than the corms. Taro is a very common dish served with or without gravy; a popular dish is arvi gosht, which includes lamb or mutton in North India. The taro is either made like fritters or steamed for the morning breakfast in the state of Karnataka. In Kerala there are known as chembu kizhangu and is used as a staple food, as a side dish or sometimes added to the sambar or prepare a taro root chutney with fresh grated coconut.
In other Indian states, Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh, taro corms are known as sivapan-kizhangu, chamagadda or in coastal Andhra districts as chaama dumpa in Telugu, and cooked in many ways, deep fried in oil for a side item with rice, or cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce with spices, onion and tomato called as the Chamagadda pulusu.
I enjoy preparing taro root/ arbi as it amalgamates well with flavors absorbing into them giving explicit taste which makes our taste buds salivate and urge to eat more. Listed below are some amazing recipes made with taro root or arbi:
Arbi/ Chamagadda Pulusu Arbi Chamagadda pulusu is a traditional dish of Andhra Pradesh where the Chamagadda (taro root) is cooked in a tamarind sauce, jaggery and spices.
Arbi Fry Arbi/ chamagadda fry is an excellent deep fried dish. Arbi cooked, cut into pieces and deep fried with spices until done.
Arbi with Sambhar Masala This sweet and tangy south indian sauce made with arbi ie colacassia is to be had and to be had with curd rice.
Khatti Arbi ka Salan Arbi ka salan is another variation to the regular salans but it is soured using tamarind and combined with salan gravy. This colacassia dish is very popular and goes very fine when made in this way of salan and also if used with meat.
Arbi Vadai Arbi Vadai is must try snack and kids would love the crispy, nutty flavor of the arbi and the softness of paneer combines with chilli flakes and other spices.
Aloo Vadi – Steamed Vegetable Leaf Roll Alu Vadi (patra) is a steamed vegetable leaf roll recipe with the aloo or colocasia leaves rolled up one after another after getting smeared with a besan paste. These aloo patras are then cut into small spices and then steamed or deep fried as desired.
Aloo Ka Path Aloo ka Path is a typical Maharashtra dish also known as Aloo Arbi Pathe ka Amti made with the leaves of arbi plant and spices. This is an incredible dish of Taro root leaves cooked in Maharashtra style. In this recipe, the taro root leaves are finely chopped and cooked in an array of ingredients and amazing aromatic Indian spices. Aloo ka path is an excellent curry united with an assortment of flavours releasing from a variety of ingredients such as bitterness from fenugreek seeds, spiciness from red chilli powder, green chillies and goda masala, tanginess from tamarind sauce and sweetness from jaggery. It’s a thrilling and delectable thick saucy curry that goes very well with roti, bhakri, jowar ki bhakri, chapatti or rice. A medley of flavours that would be a delight to your taste buds, refreshing and stimulating to the palate.
Stinky Delight Arbi and Shrimp Vadai The dish is an excellent snack dish made of taro root and dried shrimp mixed together blended with few spices and deep fried.
Taro root is generally boiled and cooked. It can be eaten with rice, roti, chapatti, phulkas. Do try these recipes and delight your palate with different variations of taro root recipes.
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