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Steamed Colocasia-Rice Patties (Pathrode) in Coconut Yoghurt Gravy

Posted Dec 12 2008 2:53pm
Ever watched the series 'Jamie At Home'? If you can imagine that gut-wrenching fist-clenching envy of seeing what another person has that you want ever so badly, then you know the pleasurable agony I undergo whenever I watch this half-hour teleseries that airs on Zee Cafe every Sunday evening. Heck, Iwaitfor it every weekend!

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity British chef, showcases his rough-cottage culinary skills using ingredients fresh out of his luscious richly green organic farm. That's right, his own garden! I never saw such deliciously fresh herbs, cabbages, broccolis, potatoes, peas, broadbeans! The way he tenderly handles all his plants, and the numerous benign winged creatures that inhabit them (nature's own insecticides), does nothing to lift my own morale with respect to the meager gardening skills I once thought I possessed!

In this habitation I currently call home, nothing grows more lusciously than grass and clover and weeds. These certainly grow in abundance, and I find myself picking them out every ten days or so by the fistfuls, every week if it's the monsoon season. My poor chapped dirt-smeared fingers attest to that! The climate is pretty dry and the afternoon sun can be harsh. During winter, the morning chill cuts right through your sweater. However, as a note of encouragement, I've managed to grow the versatile Malabar spinach and colocasia, both our favorites, and things are not such a disaster after all.

How long I've waited to post something for Andrea's pet theme "Grow Your Own." Now finally I have something to write about.

Colocasia or the elephant's ear plant (so appropriate a name!) is a tropical plant but grows almost anywhere if given enough water and shady sunlight. Monsoon rains are especially great for this plant. It grows from a root tuber and can creep on the ground to form nodes of root tubers from which new shoots grow.

The leaves are used to make delectable dishes but colocasia is also grown as an ornamental plant.Pathrode, or steamed colocasia rice patties, is a famous Karnataka dish. It seems to have been mentioned repeatedly in various other blogs and mine is no different. It can be eaten as such, it can be crumbled and seasoned and it can be used up in a curry such as the one I am going to describe. Pathrode Ambat or colocasia patties in coconut gravy is a divine creation and certainly must be tried at least once in one's lifetime.

Making the patties: I soaked about two cups of rice for several hours. I then drained the water and placed the rice in my blender along with around ten Kashmiri red chillies, one generously heaped spoon of salt, one lime-sized ball of tamarind and half a spoon of turmeric powder. It is important to be generous with these spices as adding the leaves at the later stage dilutes the taste. I ground this to a smooth batter.

I prepared several large square strips of plantain leaves by flaming them on the stovetop to soften them, making them flexible enough to use as wrapping material without tearing.Plantain leaves are not an absolute must; one can use foils or even small metal cups (perhaps?) in order to improvise if plantain leaves are unavailable. But these leaves are preferred as they impart a very special taste to the dish.

I washed and chopped up around twelve to fifteen colocasia leaves, ranging from medium-sized to large. I mixed the batter into the leaves, making sure to coat each strand of chopped leaf.I took fistfuls of this leafy batter and placed it on a plantain leaf, wrapping it up and securing it with a string. I repeatedly did this until all batter was used up.

I placed each plantain bundle, one on top of the other, in my pressure cooker and steamed these for about half an hour.

Once unwrapped from the plantain leaves, this can be eaten as such or prepared further. For this particular recipe, I just cut the patties into small squares.

Preparing the gravy:This is pretty easy. Soak a bit of tamarind in warm water, squeeze, and pour the sour water into a pot. Place this on the stove, add half a teaspoon of chilli powder and requisite salt. Allow this to boil on low flame.Scrape the meat off half a coconut. Grind this to a smooth paste with requisite water. Pour this into the pot. Add about one to two cups of buttermilk or watery curds and stir well. The gravy needs to warm up but shouldneverboil as this would cause the buttermilk/curd to separate into tiny flecks of milk solids.

Putting it all together: Once the gravy has warmed up sufficiently, turn off the stove and season the dish by spluttering mustard seeds in hot oil and adding curry leaves and pouring this on the gravy. Then place the small squares of colocasia patties in the gravy and allow it to rest. I made this recipe one evening and allowed it to rest overnight. No refrigeration is needed. Resting the dish is required as the patties absorb all the gravy and thickens considerably. The flavors blend wonderfully and the final dish is simply divine.

This can be eaten all onits own or along with rice. It must be consumed completely by the end of the next day, but there is no need to worry on that score. It will definitely disappear sooner than you think, every morsel of it!

This is my entry to Andrea's Grow Your Own 2008, hosted for this fortnight (deadline November 15th) by Ning ofHome and Hearth.

Updated November 21st:
For the lovely and inspiring roundup to GYO #20 hosted by Ning of Home and Hearth clickhere.
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