Thursday, January 22, 2015

Arbi Chi Bhaaji (Indian style taro root)

This week is turning out to be all about revisiting my childhood favorites. I got my okra fix earlier and today I'm going to share with you another beloved vegetarian dish - arbi (taro root) - but this time, with a bit of twist. 

Taro is like a potato, only sweeter, nuttier, and with a delicate flavor all its own. Honestly, it looks like a potato's Cousin It, doesn't it? But once you blanch it and take off that stringy peel, you'll be delighted with what you find. This recipe would probably work well with potatoes too, but if you see this hairy, unattractive root in your grocery store, scoop it up and enjoy the deliciousness! 

For this recipe I thought I'd do something a little different, and put my creativity to the test. Not really - I just wanted to use up the mushrooms I'd bought and I happen to love throwing things in a pan and seeing what happens. Turned out to be even more delicious than taro root by itself, so I highly recommend this addition.

There's really not much to this recipe other than a few spices - you don't want to skip the fennel here because it's the star player - mushrooms, and the taro itself. Temper the spices in vegetable oil, add in the chopped up mushrooms and boiled taro root, a sprinkle of salt, and that's about it.

Mm-mm. Look at that golden brown crispiness. The beauty of this dish is that there's really no rule about how much it should be browned. You want more crispy? Add a little more oil and let it sit in the pan some more (just be careful you don't dry out the mushrooms). You want more mashed potatoey consistency? Don't let it brown as much! Still tastes amazing.

Ah, now if only I could get some taro leaves, I'd experiment with aloo chya vadya - or taro leaf fritters!


3 medium taro root

2 tbsp oil
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili flakes
10 oz mushrooms (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the taro root and boil for 10 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath. Peel and cut into even slices. 

Heat oil on high. Add the fennel seeds, cumin, and chili flakes. Let splutter. 

Add taro root and chopped mushrooms. Sprinkle salt and a crack of fresh pepper.

Cook until taro root slices are nicely browned on at least one side.

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