Cooking on weekends is therapeutic for me as I get the time to experiment with new dishes. Last weekend while grocery shopping, I found taro leaves at Mustafa and decided to pick them up to make Alu Vadi. Alu Vadi is an Indian snack made with stuffed and rolled taro leaves. It is usually eaten at tea time and is common in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine. I, however, wanted to make something for lunch and decided to go the gravy/curry route by combining taro leaves with ridge gourd. I remember eating ‘Turiya Patra nu Shaak’ at my Gujarati neighbour’s house in India, and could place the flavour profile between spicy and tangy. As daunting as it sounded to start this preparation from scratch, I gave it a go and the result was pleasantly surprising. Patience is key to nailing this dish successfully.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4-5 pax
Time: 60 mins
Main Ingredients :
- 1 packet of taro leaves (12-15 leaves)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 tsp oil
- 1 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
- 2 ridge gourd, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp finely cut green chillies
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- Salt to taste
Ingredients for gram flour paste:
- 1.5 cups gram flour/besan
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp crushed jaggery
- 2 tbsp seedless tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water
- Salt to taste
- Coriander for garnish (optional)
- Wash the taro leaves thoroughly in running water and set them aside. Ensure that the leaves are fresh. Wipe them with a cloth until they are dry. Cut off the stalks from the base of the leaves.
- Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the preparation of the gram flour paste in a bowl. The paste has to be slightly thick for easy application on the leaves.
- Place the leaves with the vein side facing downwards and the tip facing towards you. Gently apply the gram flour paste all over the leaf surface. Now place a leaf with the tip in the opposite direction and create an alternate stack of leaves, applying the paste on each alternate surface. Keep a minimum of 8 leaves to make a roll.
- After the paste is applied on 8 leaves placed alternately facing on top of each other, roll the stack into a neat and tight pattern horizontally.
- Then cut this rolled leaf into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the length of the rolled leaf stack.
- Now heat oil in a non-stick pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the cut ridge gourd pieces to it. Add the rolled taro leaves to the pan at the same time.
- Do not stir too much after placing the leaves as they might tear. Shake the pan (do not use a ladle) generously to mix the ingredients.
- Next, add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 mins on a medium flame.
- If the gravy is too thick, add a bit of warm water to help cook the leaves. This also helps in not letting the ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder when you add water. Keep checking the gravy consistency because gram flour has a tendency to absorb water.
- Keep checking in between to ensure that the taro leaves are turning tender. Try breaking the leaves with a spoon. If they break easily, add the garam masala powder and stir well. After 2 mins, switch off the pan. Cook it in pan without lid at this stage.
- Finally add the coriander garnish and serve hot with rotis, naans or rice.
- Take your time while making the rolls. Work slowly but consistently – do not let the paste dry on the leaves.
- Keep the gram flour paste on the thicker side – it’s easy to take a little in a smaller vessel and thin it as required.
- Ensure that the taro leaves as well as the stuffing are fully cooked before serving.