Kosu / Taro root…

by Sunita on April 19, 2007

Taro root is a starchy tuber vegetable that looks like, and can be used similar to, a potato. It does, however, have a hairy outer coating on its surface that is similar to the coating on a coconut. Because of this, when preparing to use a taro root, the root’s outer skin must first be removed. This procedure is easy to do. However, some individual’s can acquire a skin irritation towards the juices that are secreted by the taro root as its skin is being removed. Therefore, to be on the safe side, when peeling a taro root’s skin, use protective rubber gloves. Additionally, because taro root can be toxic in its raw state, always cook it before using.Taro roots can be used as an alternative to potatoes. They do, however, have somewhat of a nut-like flavor when cooked.

Another reason that the taro root has gained in popularity for cooking purposes is because its starch is easily digestible. Additionally, taro roots are extremely nutritious as they provide a good source of fibre, contain a high amount of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, and supply approximately 95 calories per adult serving.

To determine whether a taro root is suitable for use, make sure that the root is firm to the touch, and has hairy roots. Once you have selected your roots, you can store them in your home for up to one week provided that the roots are stored in a cool and dry location, preferably at approximately 50ºF. Additionally, when storing taro roots, make sure that the roots do not dry out. Because of its diversity, the taro root vegetable can easily be used as a healthy alternative to potatoes and other tubers.(http://tx.essortment.com/taroroottubers_relt.htm)

So much for the trivia… as for us, we use taro root or ‘kosu’, as we call it, in a variety of dishes…however the one I’m citing below is one that came out of my whims, something I dished up in a hurry…but it turned out well and there was nothing to complain. I served it with plain rice and dal. I believe it can be had with rotis as well.

What’s needed-

4-5 taro roots, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp saffron strands
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
salt to taste

How to-

Boil the taro pieces three-fourths of the way in 1 and 1/2 glasses of water along with the saffron and salt. This does not take long and should be checked that the taro does not over cook and become mushy.

Strain the taro when and save the stock.

Heat 2 tblsp of oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. When the seeds splutter, add the taro, cumin and chilli powder and stir for a minute. Add the stock and simmer till the taro is completely cooked and, as before, taking care that it does not turn into one gooey mess. Add the garam masala powder and the coriander, simmer for a minute and remove from heat.

There… the good old taro, cooked in a jiffy..

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Asha April 20, 2007 at 12:23 pm

I see the Taro root at the groceries,but never used it.Thanks for this recipe.I will get some Taro and make this.


2 sunita April 20, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Asha, back home, we use it a lot…do give it a try…


3 Sharmi April 20, 2007 at 1:51 pm

I have some taro at home and was looking for what to make out of it. ur recipe is really simple and nice.


4 Richa April 20, 2007 at 3:05 pm

hey recipe looks good, usually I make a dry arbi subzi, will try your version sometime.


5 sunita April 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Sharmi,the recipe is indeed really simple…do go on and give it a try…


6 sunita April 20, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Richa,nice to have you over…usually I add taro to other vegetables…this time wanted something very simple and more importantly quick…


7 Cynthia April 21, 2007 at 1:56 am

Sunita, we call this a ground provision (literally meaning that it is provided by the earth, the ground). It is popularly known in these parts (Caribbean) as dasheen. People use it just like you did but they also put it in stews, soups, mashed (like mashed potatoes). Like you said, it is used very much like the potato.


8 sunita April 21, 2007 at 9:20 am

Cynthia, it was nice to know about how this humble root is used in your part of the world…isn’t it amazing that the same vegetable can be turned into so many different dishes , each with a unique flavour…


9 Sig April 21, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Hi Sunita, that looks very yummy! I love this root especially in Chinese restaurants, but the only thing I’ve ever made at home is Taro Chips… Your recipe is a keeper for sure.
BTW, you said you used it a lot back home, did you mean in India? I didn’t know Taro was available in India, I first heard about this root after coming to the US.


10 sunita April 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Hi Sig, yes, I do mean India, when I was talking about home…have a look at what the wiki says-

Taro is extensively used in South Asia. In South India’s Kerala state, it is used as a staple food, as a side dish, or as a component in various side dishes. As a staple food it is steamed, and eaten with a chutney of green pepper and shallot onions. The leaves and stems of certain varieties of taro are used as a vegetable in Kerala. A tree-growing variety of taro is extensively used in the western coast of India to make “patrade” or “patrada”, literally “leaf-pancake”. These are either made like fritters, or are steamed and eaten. Taro is consumed in most of the regions of South Asia. It is called chembu in Malayalam, arvi in Hindi, kesu or kesuvinagadde in Kannada, aalu (अळू) or arukudya in Marathi, alvamande in Konkani, chamagadda or chamadumpa in Telugu, chembu or cheppankizhangu in Tamil, saruwada in Oriya, and kochu in Bengali. Taro is so widely available in India and Bangladesh that its Bengali name kochu can also mean “worthless thing” or “nothing” in sayings.


11 Roopa April 23, 2007 at 5:09 am

never used it for curry only raitas!! would try next time!


12 Sia's Corner April 23, 2007 at 8:36 am

i have seen taros (small and big ones) at caribbean markets but never brought it till now. how does it tastes sunita?


13 bee April 23, 2007 at 4:05 pm

what an unusul recipe with saffron. your pictures are beautiful, sunita.


14 sunita April 23, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Roopa,do give it a try…


15 sunita April 23, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Sia this is what I found-
‘The juicy texture is similar to a chestnut and offers a distinct artichoke heart and chestnut flavor.’Somewhat like potatoes but with a nutty texture…try some…


16 sunita April 23, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Bee, thanks…your ones speak volumes as well…


17 Seema April 23, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Oh the taro root curry looks yummy sunita. I never tried using it here since I am always so confused which one of those roots are taro roots as they all have different names here. We call it Kesavina gadde and love the melt in the mouth texture that this has. Thanx for sharing.


18 sunita April 26, 2007 at 10:15 am

Hi Seema, nice to have you over…yes, even i love the texture of the taro root…


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