Chembu Elai Curry (Arbi Patta Curry, Taro Root Leaves Curry)

Since the season for taro root leaves (I shall call it just leaves for the sake of brevity) is short, I thought I’d post this recipe on priority basis. But a word of warning on these leaves is called for. These leaves can cause irritation and rashes. One must therefore be very careful when using them. If you suspect that you may develop irritation or rashes, please avoid these leaves.
I once had many rashes on my feet. I did not associate it with these leaves. When my sister came visiting, she correctly diagnosed the rashes as due to these leaves. She told me to consume the leaves within a day or two. Stored longer, they tend to cause rashes.
But I must add that I love these leaves, in whatever form. And, following my sister’s advice, I’ve had no more problems.

8 medium sized taro root leaves
1 1/2 cups pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
Salt to taste
3 dried red chillies
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
2 tsp split black gram (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
Soak the pigeon peas for not less than an hour
Drain the water
Add salt, red chillies, and asafoetida
Grind to a thick paste, sprinkling very little water if necessary
Set aside
Cut the stem of the leaves and the central vein
Then chop the leaves fine
Wash the leaves and squeeze out excess water
Add this to the ground paste
Mix well
Take a small ball of the paste in your palm
Pat it into the shape of a vada, but smaller and thinner
Transfer to a steamer and steam for about 10 minutes
Cool completely  and set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add split black gram
When the black gram begins to turn golden brown, add the steamed vadas
Crumble the mixture, stirring occasionally
Remove from flame and serve hot with red or brown rice
Note: You can substitute taro root leaves with moringa leaves or fenugreek greens
Note: Recipe modified from Meenakshi Ammal’s cookbook Samaithu Paar

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