Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kochu Dal Curry (Colocasia Leaves & Lentil)

I haven't ever cooked "kochu pata" (colocasia leaves)., nor did I know what the looked like because they came bundled in rolls when I picked them at the store. All I knew was an old folklore that said something along the lines - ones who's throat itch after eating kochu pata must be a liar - the idea that these leaves itch your throat - never mind whether we tell lie or not - who among hasn't said a white lie now and then - the idea has always deterred me in any consumption of this vegetable! So, i don't know what promted me or inspired me to pick up these leaves - a man next to me just happed to pick up two bundles and I just happened to follow suite! Once I brought them home, I was struck with a dilemma - I had no idea how to prepare them! So, I called my ready source, my aunt and picked her brain. It sounded so yummy that I immediately set out to cook them...here begins my tiny adventure.

For a little bit of back ground on kochu or colcasia :

When I went to prepare the leaves, I first washed them, tore them into small pieces then put them boiling water. Within a few seconds on putting the water to boil, my hands started itching and burning uncontrollably!! It died away after few mins - i had put some anti-histamine just in case. Now, I started to worry what would be the effects if I actually consumed it! But, my aunt had told me to boil it before cooking, so it should be ok. I finished preparing the dish as she instructed and as soon I had a few mouthfuls - my throat started painful itching!! Almost having a hard time breathing!! But, that too died away with 15-20 mins. So, now I was on a mission to figure out why this occurred even after boiling.

Colocasia, in its raw form, has a presence of calcium oxalate. This chemical compound can be broken down by boiling the vegetable but it has to be a prolonged period - 1 hour - depending on size of leaves - the bigger the leaves - boiling time increases. Another trick I came upon - an important element my aunt had forgotten to mention - it can be equalized with citric acid! Meaning, while cooking add tamarind juice or lime juice or while eating squeeze a helluva lot of lime! And if your throat still itches - suck on some lime or lemon!

Thus is my tiny adventure of making this dish, I hope you won't be deterred, just apy extra attention to detail while cooking it!


1 bundle - about 2 small leaves
Lentils - 1 cup (masoor - orange whole or split)
Onion - 1 med chopped small
Garlic - 2-3 cloves finely chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Dry red chili - 2
Green chili - 1
Tamarind juice or lime/lemon - 1 tbsp. (approx.)
Oil to fry


1. Wash the leaves carefully. Wear gloves or avoid direct contact in some way (i.e.: using tongs). Place them in appropriate pot of water - I used 6 cups of water. Boil for min. 1 hour.

2. Wash the lentils well. Soak the lentils in a bowl to soften to reduce cooking time.

3 . Once the leaves are ready, prepare the lentils. Heat 2 tbsp. of oil in a pot/wok. Add the red chili and let roast few seconds, sautee the onion and garlic till 'mushy'.

4. Add the powder spices and salt, green chili, stir and mix well. Add a little bit of water and mix again.

5. Drain the lentils and add it to the spice mixture. Coat and fry well. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and let it cook uncovered. We want a thick mush.

6. Once the lentils ready, add the leaves and cook well, add the tamarind or lime/lemon juice.

7. Cook for few mins so all spices mix well, check salt and spicy-ness. If too much of anything - try adding a little bit of sugar.

Serve with rice or roti.


Anonymous said...

do you throw the water in which you boiled the colocasia?

A New Yoker... said...

hello! yes, you would throw away the boiled water. let me know if it works well!