Kachaalu, or Taro, as it is known in English, is a food that is deeply embedded in South Asian and Polynesian cuisines. A while ago, in another blog post, I talked about a dish being symbolic of winters for me as a 10-year-old. Well, this one was symbolic of autumn. I still recall roadside vendors selling tangy Kachaalu based snacks in these little cups made out of banana leaves, packed with an incredible amount of flavour. That was your evening snack sorted. And if you couldn't resist their incredible taste, then perhaps that was dinner sorted as well.
Kachaalu has got a distant cousin you might be familiar with- Arvi, which when cooked also tastes delicious. It must be something to do with the starchiness I suppose.
Before I walk you through the ingredients and steps, here are some relevant metrics for the recipe
Difficulty - Easy.
Prep time - 45 minutes
Cooking time - 15 minutes.
Servings - 4.
Kachaalu/Taro - 500 grams.
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp. You want something mild, so go for either Kashmiri or Paprika.
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Rock salt - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind pulp - 50 grams
Ajwain/Carom seeds - 3 tsp
Coriander - for garnishing
Cumin seeds - 1tsp
Boiled Moth bean - approx 1 cup. This is completely optional. The roadside version I alluded to before also had these in the recipe.
Wash and boil the taro in salty water. Much like how you would check if potatoes are done, see if a knife can pierce through them. If a knife can pierce through without much resistance, it means your taro is boiled. Once boiled, peel and slice the taro into one-inch cubes.
At the same time, wash and boil the Moth beans as well if you plan on adding them. For 1 cup of beans, you will need to add 2 cups of water. You can use a pressure cooker for this, and turn off the heat after the first whistle.
Toast the carom seeds. We want to take them all the way when we're toasting them. For the coffee lovers out there, I'm talking about Italian or French roast levels of roasting here; the seeds are just shy of burning.
The cumin seeds do not need to be toasted to the same level, but still toasted enough that they release their aroma.
Now it's time to assemble - mix the taro, tamarind pulp, black salt, red chilli powder, carom seeds and cumin seeds together.
That's it; your Kachaalu chat is ready. Bon appetite. As always, I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments down below. See you in the next one.