If you thought that the best ways to cook colocasia leaves the Indian way are the usual alu vadi, pathrode or patra, then probably it’s time to rethink.
Colocasia leaves are cheap and commonly available with every third vegetable vendor here in Mumbai. Yet, all through these years, I wonder, why didn’t I experiment a bit with it? Well, it’s never too late. I picked up some of those beautiful leaves from a vegetable vendor nearby and made this dainty dish, called “Colocasia-Leaf-Wrapped Paneer Rolls”.
Colocasia leaves are also called taro leaves or elephant ears. In Hindi, we call it arbi ke patte. Bengalis call it kochu pata or kochu shaak. Taro leaves are great for healthy skin and vision. These are rich in Vitamins A and B. However, these leaves can cause a pricking sensation or itching in the throat or tongue while eating uncooked colocasia leaves, owing to the presence of calcium oxalate in them. Please make sure not to taste the raw leaves. If the leaves are properly cooked or fried, the itching won’t be there and these would taste delicious too!
People across the world eat colocasia leaves in different ways. And these are tasty: whether cooked with the gram flour, scraped coconut, meat, rice powder, seafood or even Indian cottage cheese or paneer! Very recently, while I made some vegetarian sushi at home, I used steamed (and flattened) colocasia leaves as a replacement to nori. It worked great for those vegetarian guests of mine, who didn’t try vegetarian sushis in their lifetime because of the fish-like smell of nori.
Leaf-wrapped delicacies have always fascinated me. If you love seafood, try my Carp Paturi. I realised that a paturi gets all the more better if you use colocasia leaves instead of the inedible banana leaves (although I do agree that banana leaves impart a distinct aroma to a dish). I had some cottage cheese in my refrigerator, and this time, I didn’t want to make an Indian kind of gravy with that. I thought of giving it a little Bengali touch, with mustard paste and kalonji (nigella seeds).
Before I tell you the recipe, let me tell you that paneer can be easily made at home. If you want to make this at home, please refer to my post on Palak Paneer. These rolls are a bit pungent because of fresh mustard paste and green chillies, and believe me, that is where the fun begins! Enjoy these rolls with steamed rice.
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Colocasia-Leaf-Wrapped Paneer Rolls
- Colocasia leaves: 5
- Paneer or Indian cottage cheese mashed: 400 g
- Fresh white mustard seed paste (made with a pinch of salt and one green chilli): 4.5 tbsp
- Grated coconut: 3 tbsp
- Kalonji/onion seeds/nigella seeds: ¼ tsp
- Salt: ½ tsp
- Sugar: ¼ tsp
- Green chillies: 5 finely chopped
- Tamarind paste: 1.5 tsp
- Garlic paste: 1.5 tsp
- Oil: 5 tbsp
- Wash the leaves thoroughly on both the sides and pat dry. Now, make the glossy side face down. Discard the middle vein, along with the stem attached. Slowly and carefully, with the help of a pestle, smash the veins of the leaves, taking care that the leaves don’t tear on doing so. So you get two big green pieces from each leaf. Divide each piece into two, breadthwise.
- In a deep bowl, mix all the ingredients (except the oil). Knead the mixture uniformly, until smooth. Take each colocasia leaf piece (the glossy side should be down) and spoon some paneer mixture at the centre.
- Fold the leaf from four sides and seal with toothpicks.
- In a pan, add the oil and wait till it is hot. Keep a lid nearby. Simmer the flame and add the leaves, one at a time. Immediately put the lid to avoid sputtering. After 4 min, turn over the rolls. Cover and cook for 5 min, or until both the sides are light brown.
- Remove the toothpicks and serve only with steamed rice. Don’t open up the rolls, but bite a small portion of the roll (including the wrapped leaf) along with some rice. Tell me, it’s yum, isn’t it?
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