Arbi / Colocassia or seppankizhangu (in Tamil) can be an ugly looking vegetable...but lends itself to some delicious dishes. Ask those good Tamil boys who pester their wives to make Seppankizhangu roast for Sunday lunches, just the way their Amma makes it :) Even cricketer Srikkanth admits to being a "ghee-seppankizhangu roast-paruppu sadam freak". Seppankizhangu roast can be a topic for another whole post, but this one is dedicated to the Punju way of glorifying an ordinary muddy arbi.
A little note of warning, there are people who are allergic to some of these root vegetables, so please to check with your families if you are unleashing this fellow on them for the first time. If while handling this vegetable, your fingers itch, then you yourself may be allergic to this - anywhere from mild to severe. This is something extremely hilarious I read on one of my favourite blogs on allergic tendencies to vegetables from the yam family.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from our favourite Punju restaurant in the vicinity - Urban Tadka. This place does not take reservations and the only way to get a seat is to go there, put your name down on their long waiting list and be prepared to wait from anywhere between half hour to two hours. And its been some 3-4 years since they started, and people continue to WAIT with salivating tongues and rumbling tummies. That speaks for the yumminess quotient of the food they serve. So coming back to the Ajwaini Arbi Tikkas, this is one of our favourite starters here. Having eaten it a few times it was easy to figure out what went into it, well almost, two of the main ingredients already revealed in the name itself. My addition to this is sesame seeds which i did not find used in the restaurant version.
Arbi like some of its starchy cousins can produce considerable gas in your GIT (Gastro-Intestinal Tract) and ajwain or omam / carom seeds is an excellent spice to counteract the bloating, so these do make a perfect synergistic pair.
Ajwaini Arbi Ke Tikkey (Colocassia with carom seeds)
Category: Appetizer / Finger food / Roti accompaniment
Time taken: Active time: 10 minutes, Inactive time : 40 minutes
This recipe uses 250 g or 1/2 Lb of colocassia. When you buy the arbi, try and choose the ones of a similar size so that they can cook uniformly.
First scrub the muddy bits from the arbi very well. I use the pressure cooker to cook them through.
Place the arbis in a cooker vessel with a little water (1/2 cup or so), more water in the cooker, after two whistles, place on sim for 5 minutes. This should do to cook medium sized arbis without turning them to mush, in which case, you really cannot progress further.
One the cooker has cooled, open, and remove the arbi to a plate and cool for 10 minutes till comfortable to peel.
Once peeled, place them in a single layer in a large dish. With your palms or a wooden masher, lightly flatten each piece until oval / round, but not with so much force that it crumbles.
Spices and other stuff
Over the arbi, sprinkle -
1 tsp coarsely crushed ajwain
1 tsp of red chilli powder (like degi mirch)
1 tbsp of coriander powder
1 tbsp of sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp rice flour (for crispiness)
plenty of finely chopped coriander
With a gentle hand, coat the spices over the arbi and let this sit for 15 minutes minimum. You could also refrigerate the dish covered with cling wrap until the time you want to shallow fry and serve.
In a cast iron or any suitable skillet, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Place the well marinated arbi pieces in a single layer. Let these acquire a golden brown crust on one side (takes around 7-10 minutes) after which turn them over and crispen for 10 more minutes.
Serve hot with green chutney or a date tamarind chutney. We had it with store bought Date Tamarind Chutney (Kitchens of India, ITC) and it went superbly along with some slices of cool cucumber.
This is my entry to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Bollywood Cooking.
Do check out another yummy sounding recipe for Colocassia posted by Raaga, we do have some kind of telepathy going. I received her mouthwatering and melt-in-your-mouth Nankhatais, along with a cooking paste and Mungodis from her in a courier that made my weekend. Needless to say the Nankhatais have been promptly devoured. Now i am so addicted to their taste, that I have to make some from her recipe this week. Thank you so much for the delicious stuff Raaga :)