Kolokasi Stew

During my last holiday on Cyprus I above all enjoyed all the delicious and fresh food. Sweet-tasting, regional clementines and lemons, aubergine dishes in all variations but also some surprises. On a guided tour in Nicosia we stumbled across a vegetable market. I bought some bags of dried tea-herbs as gifts for my family back home, as I wanted something that wasn’t imported and true to the place. A vegetable-stand caught my eyes and I asked our guide, a sweet 70-year old man called Bajram, if he could point out a domestic product. This is where I learnt about Kolokasi (engl. Taro), the vegetable traditionally used on Cyprus.

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Kolokasi is a potato-like root vegetable that has its origin in Asia and Malaysia but is grown in large amounts in Cyprus as well and is commonly used in the cypriot kitchen. It is traditionally cooked in a tomato sauce, either with or without meat, developing its nutty flavour when cooked.

Serves 3 to 4 | Time needed  ~  2 h

60 ml olive oil
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
150 g celery, roughly choped
1 red bell pepper (Paprika), roughly choped
2 Kolokasi bulbs
1 tsp tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup hot water
2 vegetable stock cubes
3 tomatoes (approx. 400 g), peeled
1-1,5 l hot water
Juice of one lime
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Peel and chop the onions and garlic cloves finely.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan and steam the onions and garlic.
  3. Add the celery and the red bell pepper and cook for about 3 min over low heat.
  4. Peel and chop the kolokasi bulbs roughly (never wash with water) and add to the pan, stirring occasionally for about 3 min.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock cubes.
  6. Leave to simmer for 5 min.
  7. Add water to cover it and simmer for further 1 h until the kolokasi is tender. Stir occasionally.
  8. Blend the lime juice in and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Enjoy with bread and crème fraîche.

If you don’t have kolokasi at home, as it is hard to find it in Europe, you can use (sweet) potatoes instead.

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