The tuber colocasia or taro root (arbi in Hindi) is the potato’s less popular cousin, but when cooked right, can charm you like none other. Try this arbi masala (curried colocasia) to see how.
A word of caution: arbi isn’t the friendliest vegetable to handle. Try peeling it raw, and you’ll soon be nursing itchy fingers. A way around this problem is to boil the arbi first with skin on. That’s what I do in this recipe .
- Arbi (colocasia/taro root) – 400 grams
- Tomatoes – 2
- Onions – 1 large
- Garlic – 4 cloves
- Ginger – 1/2 inch stick
- Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
- Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 1 tablespoon
- Coriander leaves – a few sprigs for garnish
Wash and place the arbi (whole, unskinned) in a pan wide enough to accommodate all in a single layer. Pour water in to submerge the arbi. Put the pan covered on medium heat, to boil for 30 minutes – adjust the time according to the size of the arbi: after boiling, the peel should come off easily but the insides should not become mushy.
[As you can see in the pic above, boiling arbi in an aluminium kadhai results in dark stains on the kadhai. Don’t worry about that though – the stains will go off when washed and scrubbed with a firm hand.]
Let the arbi cool slightly, then peel. Prick holes through each arbi using a toothpick or fork. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
Chop ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes finely.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kadhai. When hot, add mustard seeds and after they have spluttered, add onion, ginger and garlic.
Fry on high flame till the onion begins to turn golden.
Add chopped tomatoes, follow with cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder and garam masala.
Add salt and stir around till the tomatoes turn mushy (3-4 minutes).
Add arbi cubes and half a cup of water. Cook covered on low heat for 15 minutes, or till the arbi has softened and absorbed all the curry. Switch off the heat and garnish with coriander leaves.
Relish arbi masala along with any Indian meal.
My lunch today:
Rice, dal, okra fry and arbi masala.
 If you still insist on peeling arbi raw, prepare your defence: wear kitchen gloves, or coat your hands with oil before handling the arbi. If you have already got the itch, rub lemon juice on your hands to soothe them.
 Arbi is among those noble foods seen on the ingredient list of vrat menus. This recipe of arbi masala can be made vrat-friendly by substituting mustard oil with ghee, salt with sendha namak, and skipping onion and garlic.