Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chepenkezhangu Roast – Pan fried colocasia

When we were kids, Dad used to take us along to the farmer’s markets to pick vegetables. Invariably, every time I went with him, I used to pester him to buy ‘Chepenkezhangu’. This habit continued into adulthood – only this time, I picked them up myself most of the times. This root vegetable looks hideous but tastes heavenly, and this is an evergreen popular dish in our entire family, extended family, friends, etc, so much so that my cousin and I would stand next to my mom in the kitchen and steal a bite just as she was finishing the dish and allowing it to crisp up; snack on it before our lunch; and then snack on it a few hours after lunch.

The Americans call this Tarrow Root, and it’s easily three times bigger than the average Indian colocasia. Mum-in-law makes Sambar with these, and a different curry that’s mushy. Mum, however, always made the pan-roasted crispy curry that was a favourite. This recipe easily eliminates the deep frying process. With just a sprinkle of oil and a few sprays now and then, you’ve got yourself delicious Chepenkezhangu Roast.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Colocasia – 1 dozen

2. Sambar Powder, Chili Powder – 1 1/2 and 1 teaspoon each, respectively

3. Turmeric, Salt, Curry Leaves, Oil, Hing, Channa Dal, Urad Dal, Pam Spray

4. A damn good, wide nonstick pan - larger the better. Each single piece gets cooked well unlike when they're piled up in a smaller pan.

Here’s how you roast it up:
1. Pressure cook the colocasia with a drop of oil for 6-7 whistles. If it is not too hard, cook for 4-5 whistles. The oil helps you peel them easily.

2. Peel the colocasia, chop them and toss in the sambar powder, chili powder, a little salt, turmeric. Toss such that there’s an even coating over all pieces.

3. In a large wide skillet, heat some oil, allow mustard seeds to splutter and fry curry leaves and dals.

4. Add the colocasia, sprinkle salt as needed, spray some oil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Toss them, spray oil as needed and cook open till they turn as crispy as you would want them to be. When the dish is done, don't cover the pan immediately, until the dish cools down, else you'll have steam and sogginess due to the latent heat.

S is carrying forward the tradition that we grew up following – snacking on Chepenkezhangu, stealing a bite every time he’s in the kitchen… This goes well with any South Indian dish, but to truly honour this wonderful curry, it’d have to be eaten by itself. A lot of times, people end up making gooey, mashed up lumps of Chepenkezhangu, though they would have wanted them to turn out crisp. You will have to pressure cook them the right way - roughly till they're 70 percent done. This is a sure shot way of getting crisp, singled out pieces and with minimal oil as opposed to deep frying. Thanks Mum, for passing on this idea to everyone at home!


  1. Chepenkezhangu is my personal favourite. I've never had it the roasted way. Never knew it could be done that way. I love it best when it's just baked and served with green chilly chutney. Yummy. Must pass this on to my mom.

  2. Guess u've been missing something for yrssssssss! Try it out dude!

  3. I'm sure you must have tried a bite from my lunch box sometime in the 2 years that I was there :O, no? Anyways, this is deliccccccious! I'm sure you'll love it. But I think you're confusing Kappakezhangu and Chepenkezhangu. I don't think this is edible when just steamed.

  4. yeah rumsie its always better to find ways of avoiding deepfrying:) In this recipe you can also toss a few spoons of channa dal flour and/or corn flour over the cut pieces, along with the chillie turmenric powders. It will kind of amke a coating so that it wl turn crispier and will be done a bit faster too:)

  5. and hey RDX next time i make this i wl give you a call , you are most welcome to come and taste it:)

  6. You can use the same method and make tasty crispy senaikezhangu curry too. But you will have to boil the chenai pieces in an open vessel in water and FOR A FEW MIN ONLY cos it will get cooked really fast and overcooking could make it mushy

  7. Yes, I don't have corn flour at home, it's only available in large sacks out here. I have corn starch which I've used a few times. I've tried looking for Chenai here, but to no avail :(

  8. aunty! i just saw your comment. thank you. long time since i visited this blog.