Thursday, July 06, 2006
This was a vegetable I hated as a kid - except when it was roasted and/or fried, but of course with the use of generous amounts of oil to crisp it up. One of my aunts made deep-fried taro root that was always a smash-hit with us kids (and adults too). Honestly, she simply couldnt make too much of it... there were always, always takers clamouring for it.
Oddly enough, I dont know much about the kind of person she is, for two reasons - one, we've never had much time together because of always having been in different countries, and two, because she comes across as very reserved and aloof.
What I DO know, however, is that she has incredible patience and is a perfectionist - and this is just going by the way she cooked this vegetable. The basic method is to boil it till it's three-fourths cooked, cut it into rounds, then make a batter of seasoned gram flour, dunk each piece in and deep-fry the pieces till crisp and golden brown. She would take the utmost care to separate each piece without breaking it up, fry only a few pieces at a time so that they were cooked to perfection and finally present a plateful of perfect golden crispy cheppankizhangu that disappeared in about two minutes flat.
I've not deep-fried cheppankizhangu myself, but I know that if I did, I wouldnt take the trouble of separating each and every piece from the others (boiled taro root can get a bit gooey if you're not careful) and ensuring that each piece was covered evenly in the batter, and fried to a perfect golden brown... I KNOW I wouldnt go to that much trouble for perfection. An approximation of perfection is usually enough for me.
Anyhow, I didnt deep-fry the taro root when I made it yesterday... nor did I make a proper dipping batter. I just mixed up what I term a "dry batter" and used a couple more tbsp oil than normal while pan-roasting the steam-cooked pieces. The results were more than satisfactory, they were pretty darn near perfect!
Recipe for: Chepankizhangu (taro root) fry
1/2 kg chepankizhangu
1 tsp urad dal
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
5-6 curry leaves, torn in half
3-4 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
For the "dry batter" (Mix together and set aside till required):
2-3 tbsp gram flour
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp powdered black peppercorns
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds, powdered
1. Boil the chepankizhangu in lots of water till cooked but not mushy (if a skewer goes through easily, it's done). Or use a pressure-cooker to do the job quicker, but be very careful not to overcook the vegetable or it will turn to a gooey mush.
2. Cool, peel and cut into 1/2" thick pieces. Toss with the "dry batter" mix and reserve.
3. In a wide pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add the asafoetida if using, the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. Cover the pan and let the mustard seeds pop.
4. Put in the chepankizhangu pieces and stir carefully to mix, so that the pieces do not break up. Sprinkle salt to taste.
5. Turn the heat up to medium-high and fry the pieces for 3-4 minutes. Pour over the remaining oil, turn over the pieces again and let roast, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn crisp and golden brown on the outside.
Serve hot with any sambar and plain rice.
Posted by Shammi at 4:22 am