Chembu Elai Kuzhambu

I am aware that taro roots are used widely across the world. But I am not sure about the leaves. For the sake of convenience, I am going to call this taro leaves (arbi patta, chembu elai). This is used in India to make a number of dishes like fritters, rolls and curries. But there aren’t a huge number of recipes using these leaves. Therefore, it is always delightful to be taught another recipe using taro leaves. But please exercise caution. The leaves must be used quickly after they are plucked. Within a couple of days. Otherwise, you will develop an allergic reaction. Normally skin rashes that will go away in time. But if the leaves are fresh, then there is no such problems. I discovered this fact from my sister. I had once developed such rashes. When I asked her about the rashes, she told me that it was most probably caused by taro leaves that had been stored for too long. She told me to apply coconut oil on the rashes – and they disappeared in two to three days. Since then, I use up my taro leaves as soon as I buy them. And have never had a problem.
My recipe today is an unusual dish – a dal made with taro leaves.

Chembu Elai Kuzhambu

1/2 cup cow peas (lobia, karamani)
1/2 cup whole mung beans (sabut moong, muzhu paasi parupu)
5 green chilis
1 cup shallots
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
6 large taro leaves
Unrefined salt to taste
4 cups water
Soak the cow peas and whole mung beans together, overnight
Drain the water and transfer to a pressure cooker
Add green chilis, turmeric powder and shallots
Add salt and 4 cups water
Close the lid and cook for 4 whistles
Let the pressure release naturally
Set aside
Meanwhile, prepare the taro leaves
Wash well and pat dry
Tear the venules from the midrib and the veins
Chop the venules fine
Add this to the cooked lentils and boil for about 10 minutes on high flame
Adjust the salt
Add the peanut butter and mix well
Remove from flame
Serve hot with red/brown/millet rice or Indian breads

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