Paatra (Taro Leaf Rolls)

One of the tastiest greens is taro leaf (arbi patta, chembu elai). It is normally available in North India (where I stay) during the monsoon months (July – September). I love this green and look forward to the season. As I have mentioned before, this leaf can cause allergic reactions unless extreme care is exercised. It is best to consume the leaves within 48 hours of plucking. Otherwise, it may cause allergic reactions. However, with adequate precautions, any dish made with this green is to die for! My recipe today is the Gujarati paatra.

For The Paste
2 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan, kadalai mavu)
1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1 tsp chilli powder
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
3/4 cup date paste (I avoided this)
3 tbsp tamarind pulp (imli paste, puli)
Salt to taste
Remaining Ingredients
10 medium sized taro leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
2 tsp sesame seeds (til, ellu)
A pinch of asafoetida
To Garnish
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
(I avoided the garnish altogether)
Combine all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl
Add approximately 1 cup water
Mix well till it becomes a smooth paste
Set aside
Wash the taro leaves and dry using a kitchen towel
Place each leaf facing downwards and remove the central vein using a sharp knife
Now flip over the leaf (facing upwards and tip facing you) and spread the paste evenly over the leaf
Take another leaf and place it over the first leaf with the tip facing the opposite direction
Apply the paste on this leaf too
Continue this process for 3 more leaves
Fold the layered leaves from the bottom (fold of about 1″)
Apply the paste on it
Repeat the procedure from the other side
Roll up the leaves tightly, applying the paste with every fold
Set aside
Repeat for the remaining 5 leaves
Transfer to a steamer
Steam for 20-25 minutes till the leaves and the paste become firm
Remove from steamer and cool
Cut into 1/2″ pieces
Set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add sesame seeds and asafoetida
Roast for a few seconds till the sesame seeds begin to change colour
Add the taro leaves and saute gently, on medium flame
Remove from flame and garnish with coconut and coriander leaves
Serve immediately as a snack – or even an accompaniment to red/brown rice

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