Spiced, crisped and shallow fried is the way we like the Arbi.
These little fuzzy not so good looking tubers incur a mixed feeling in my family. Arbi, or more commonly known as the Taro are the starchy root vegetables native to south east Asia. The corms are cooked in a savory dish (usually) in the Indian sub continent, but in other places there are a lot of desserts made with Taro. I am yet to explore those!
They were not liked; not until I made these when we had guests over and I did not mention that these were the Taro root. The little crispy chips all gone before anyone realized. I must say, besides me, this is the only way I can make my family eat the Arbi.
I love it. Cooked in a spicy sauce, cooked with shrimp and fish, boiled and mashed with mustard paste are some of the ways I make these. I was one of those strange kids while growing up, who loved all vegetables, and made it to the top of the good book in all my friends home, much to their annoyance. So I demanded to try all the unique recipes in every home, and the moms were more than happy to make them for me. This was picked up somewhere along those years, I do not exactly recollect when and where. I did not ask for recipes then, but what I loved stayed with me. The memories of the taste helps me to create my own.
This is a really easy recipe. The spices you use are yours to pick. I find the flavor of ajwain/carom pairs really well with arbi, and the combination is very popularly used in India. I do use garlic paste or may be some Harissa sometimes for the extra beat, but it is not required.
Here is a step by step to make them:
Boil /steam the taro until tender, but not too soft; cool them and peel
Combine the flour and spice paste; add it to the slices and toss to coat. Add the dry flour mix and toss again.
Shallow fry until both sides are golden brown and crisped.
Arbi Fry: Chickpea and Spice crusted Taro
Ingredients: (serves 4 as starter or side)
- 6 arbi/taro – each about 3- 4 inches long
- 3/4 cup besan/chickpea flour/garbanzo bean flour
- 1 teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3/4 tablespoon garlic paste or harissa, optional (good for extra flavors)
- red chili powder, to taste
- salt to taste
- oil to cook/shallow fry
- chaat masala or kala namak/rock salt to sprinkle before serving – optional (available in Indian groceries)
Boil the taro skin/peel on with enough water to cover them completely. It will take approximately 20 minutes – 30 minutes. They should be cooked through but not overcooked; firm enough to be sliced clean. They may also be pressure cooked.
Cool the arbi/taro, peel them and slice them into circles; each into about 7-8 slices (for a 4 inch long arbi/taro).
Crush the carom/ajwain seeds and the cumin seeds in the palm of your hands or with a rolling pin.
Combine chickpea flour, chili powder, salt and the crushed seeds. Divide the mix into 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup.
In the 1/2 cup flour and spice mix, add enough water and garlic paste if you are using, a little at a time to make a thick paste.
Lay the sliced arbi/taro in a platter/tray and spoon/drizzle over the chickpea paste over it. Toss well (using your hand is probably the best way to do it here), for the paste to coat both sides of the slices. Now sprinkle the dry chickpea flour and spice mix over the slices and toss and shake for the dry flour to the stick to the coated wet paste. This extra flour adds an extra bit of crunch.
Heat enough oil in the pan to shallow fry. The slices need to cooked in a single layer, so if you have a smaller pan, you will have to do this in batches. Once the oil is smoking hot, reduce the heat to medium and place the coated slices in the pan. Cook each side for a couple of minutes or until golden brown; once done they will release themselves with a light poke. Flip them over and cook the other side.
Drain on paper towels; sprinkle crushed pepper, or more chili powder or chaat masala or kala namak/rock salt and serve immediately.
They may be reheated in the oven later, but will not be as crispy on the outside as just cooked.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes approx.
Cooking Time: 45-55 minutes, including boiling/steaming the taro
Serves: 4-6 as starter/appetizer
The plant (Taro) is inedible when raw and considered toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, typically as raphides. The toxin is minimized by cooking, especially with a pinch of baking soda. It can also be reduced by steeping taro roots in cold water overnight. Calcium oxalate is highly insoluble and contributes to kidney stones. It has been recommended to take milk or other calcium rich foods with Taro. Taro leaves also must be handled with care due to toxicity of the leaves, but are completely safe after cooking. – Wiki