Arbi/Taro Root Stew
Pulusu(stew) means sauce or gravy dish, cooked with vegetables or lentils with tamarind sauce, jaggery and spices. This traditional dish is cooked almost everyday (in some homes it’s a must dish), which are frequently cooked during rainy and winter seasons as it’s much easy to prepare with the available vegetables or just with lentils. Usually stews are accompanied with plain dal (mudda pappu, in Telugu), dry or semi dry curry (which is reffered as vepudu in telugu)along with generous servings of ghee (clarified butter), it is hearty and filling.
Chama dumpa (in Telugu) , Arbi (in Hindi) is more commonly known as Colocasia (scientific name), also referred as Taro
root. Taro root is a tropical plant grown primarily as a vegetable food for its edible corm, and secondarily as a leaf vegetable (wiki). Both the leaves and roots are used a lot in Indian cooking. Famous dish made out of taro leaves in Northern part of India is Patra. In Southern part of India the edible corm (root) is cooked (similar way other root vegetables are cooked, like potatoes with skin on) and then shallow fried and spiced up with chilli powder and salt. Taro root is little sticky and slippery after cooked, which is really suitable for gravy curries and stews.
Chama dumpa pulusu is a spicy stew spiced up with chillies and seasoning, sweetened by jaggery and caramelized onions, sourness with tamarind and tomatoes, while the sambar powder enhances its flavor.
8-10 Taro Root
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 medium tomato (chopped)
1-2 tsp tomato paste (optional)
2-3 green chillies (slit)
2-3 tbsp tamarind paste
1-2 tbsp jaggery
½ tsp turmeric powder
Red chilli powder according to taste
½ tbsp sambar powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp oil
1 whole red chilli (broken)
½ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp methi seeds
Pinch of hing
Few curry leaves
Heat ½ tbsp oil in a small frying pan and add red chilli, methi & mustard seeds, and hing, allow the mustard seeds to
crackle. Add the curry leaves and remove from heat. Keep aside.
Taro root is pretty hard and takes little longer to cook. I use a pressure cooker to cook them quicker. It takes approx. 10 – 15 min to cook them completely. Cool, peel and dice them and keep aside. Heat the remaining oil in a shallow pan and add onions, green chillies and fry until the onions turn translucent. Now stir in turmeric powder, chilli powder and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and fry for 1 minute. To this mixture add chopped tomatoes, jaggery, tamarind paste, salt and turn the heat to medium low and let the mixture cook for 4-5 minutes, stir in the taro root pieces and gently mix. Let the mixture cook for another 3-5 minutes with the lid on. Add water (approx 1 ½ to 2 cups) adjust the seasoning and bring it to a boil with the lid off. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes again with the lid on. Stir in the sambar powder and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the fried seasoning and garnish with coriander leaves. Turn off the heat.
Serve hot with rice, dal and papad.
Notes and Tips
Do not over cook the taro root as they become gooey and will spoil the dish. Adjust the flavours to suit your taste, you can use sugar to subtitute jaggery but the taste will be very different.