Sankha Saru Tarkari ( Arbi cooked with tomatoes and lentil dumplings )
But apart from the culinary aspect, this is one vegetable that boasts of multiple health benefits. It is easy on the digestive system, controls sugar levels, boosts the immune system and even speeds up the blood circulation. No wonder this vegetable is widely used during the fasting period of Navratri and even the 'no onion no garlic' days which are an integral part of the Hindu culture.
In Odisha, the taro plant along with the plantain, used to be an integral part of every garden/backyard in earlier days. The tubers used to be harvested only after the plants died off naturally (else they tend to be itchy) and then stored for use throughout the year. My parents still grow taro in our garden though not in very large quantity. It is enough to last us a few months. The 'Sankha saru' is a relatively larger variety of Taro and is so called as the shape resembles a conch. Apart from being used in the regular Odia dishes, it is often dipped in a rice batter and pan fried. But at times, when the vegetable supply dries up, as it usually does during the summer months, it is made into a light curry with some tomatoes, badi (lentil dumplings) and a light mustard gravy.
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 15 mins
- 200 gm Taro cubes
- 2 medium sized country tomatoes
- 1/2 of a small onion
- 1 dry red chili
- 2 pinch mustard seeds
- 2 pinch turmeric powder
- a handful of badi ( dried lentil dumplings )
- 3 tsp vegetable oil
- salt to taste
For the mustard paste -
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 dry red chilis
- 2-3 garlic flakes
Preparation - Grind the mustard seeds, garlic and red chili into a fine paste.
Cooking - Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the badi and fry on a low flame till they start turning red. Remove and keep aside.
Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and broken red chili. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the coarsely chopped onion.
Once onion turns translucent, add the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt over them and cover with a lid for 2 mins to soften them.
Remove the lids and smash the tomatoes. Cook for another 2-3 mins .
Dissolve the mustard paste in 1 cup water and pour slowly into the wok . This ensures that the sediments of the mustard paste do not go into the curry and turn it bitter.
Now add the taro cubes, slat and turmeric. Cover with a lid till just cooked. Do not overcook as they will turn sticky.
Crush the badi lightly and add to the curry jsut before removing it from the flame.
Taro tends to absorb water and so does the lentil dumplings. So do not worry if there is any excess liquid remaining.
Serve at room temperature with steamed rice or even pakhala.