Taro/taro root or colocasia as it’s sometimes called is a starchy vegetable of the taro plant. Native to India and South-East Asia, taro also forms a staple in diets in Hawaii, the Caribbean and Africa. Taro ‘root’ is actually the corm—swollen underground stem—of the plant, so technically not a root. Just some casual food semantics for you! The leaves and the bulbous vegetable are both edible in its cooked form, but toxic when uncooked. But worry not, I got you covered.
I want to be upfront with you here though. Although the recipe is titled ‘oven-roasted’, it actually uses two different methods of cooking: boiling first and then (oven) roasting. As cumbersome as this process may sound, the effort on your part is quite minimal and not so hands-on as the traditional stove-top method.
Taro—being as slimy as okra innards—needs to be boiled first to peel away the skins. I use a pressure-cooker here to speed up this process, but just a regular boil in a pot is plenty sufficient. Once the slippery skins have been peeled off, they are traditionally sliced into thin rounds and pan-fried with oil and spices until golden on the outside. This method works brilliantly and tastes great, but my issue with it is this: taro, like most starchy vegetables, guzzles oil. Also, it takes a long time to get it evenly golden on the outside (and it never goes crispy unless deep-fried). Oven-roasting addresses both of these problems. Roasting the thin slices at a high temperature ensures good crunch and even cooking.
- 500 grams taro
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (or any oil)
- 4 tsp sambar chilli powder (or plain chilli powder)
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- Salt, to taste
- Add the taro to a pot of boiling water and cook until a knife inserted into the biggest one yields without any resistance. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker.
- Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
- Soak the taro in a bowl of cold water. Take one out and peel away the outer skin with a knife. It will be very sticky at this stage so use a cloth or dip your hands in water a few times to get this job done. Repeat until you have them all peeled.
- Slice the peeled taro into ¼ inch rounds. Add to a bowl and toss them with oil, sambar powder, salt, and curry leaves.
- Place the sliced taro in an even layer on a large baking tray; make sure they don’t overlap. Bake for 30-35 mins in the top rack of your oven. You want them golden and crispy. Check a few times towards the end to make sure they don’t burn.