Alu Vadi (Colocasia Rolls)

Alu Vadi (Colocasia Rolls)
Alu Vadi is a typical Maharashtrian dish made using colocasia leaves (aka taro leaves or elephant’s ears). Basically, the colocasia leaves are spread with an aromatic paste and then tightly rolled up. The rolls are then steamed until tender, cut into pieces and lightly pan fried until golden brown. The process may sound complex & lengthy but I assure you – it really isn’t & the end result is absolutely worth it.

In Marathi, “alu” refers to the colocasia leaves and the “vadis” are the delicious results. Remember in Marathi, “batata” means potato but in Hindi, potatoes are called “aloo”. Confusing indeed, isn’t it?

Now colocasia leaves are not very easy to find here in the US, even in the India stores & Asian markets. My solution is that I grow my own by simply planting the actual taro roots. Colocasia leaves are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. The leaves also have several medicinal properties and values: they are high in antioxidants, they help boost your immune system, they are good for digestion, they naturally reduce cholesterol, they reduce inflammation, help control blood pressure and are also good for your eyes.
Now for some folks, raw colocasia leaves can cause an itchy throat due to the possible presence of calcium oxalate crystals found in some leaves, but tamarind is a natural counteractive measure so don’t skip it in the recipe unless you are a 100% sure your leaves won’t cause any throat itch.


ALU VADI (Colocasia Rolls)

Ingredients:

4-5 large colocasia leaves leaves (washed, dried & trimmed)
½” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
1 cup besan (dried chickpea flour or Bengal gram flour)
¼ cup rice flour
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp kala or goda masala (or garam masala)
1 tsp red chili powder, to taste
pinch of asafetida (hing), to taste
salt & black pepper, to taste
1 tsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp jaggery, to taste (you can use brown sugar)
½ tsp tamarind concentrate (or tamarind powder)
2+ tbsp vegetable oil, as needed
freshly grated coconut for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves as garnish

METHOD:

Cut the stems off of the leaves and also trim the thick stems on the backside of the leaves so they will be much easier to roll. Set aside until needed.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the besan with the rice flour. Then add in the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, kala masala, red chili powder, asafetida, salt & pepper). Mix well & add in the sesame seeds along with the jaggery & tamarind concentrate. Now very slowly add enough water to make a thick spreadable paste.

Now spread the mixture evenly on the backside of the alu leaf and add another leaf – repeat until you have several layers of colocasia leaves with the aromatic paste spread evenly between each layer. Now tightly roll the stack of leaves up folding the edges over when done to create a sealed “packet”.

Using a steamer or pressure cooker, lightly steam the collard rolls until they are completely tender (this usually takes about 15-20 minutes). When the colocasia rolls have sufficiently cooled down, slice them horizontally into about ½” thick pieces.

In a large skillet on medium high heat, add a little oil. When hot, add the collard vadis in a single layer to pan fry on both sides until golden brown. You may need to do this in batches. Garnish with lots of cilantro leaves & freshly grated coconut. Serve as part of any delicious Indian meal.

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