The heart-shaped leaves of the colocasia plant – also called pattarveliya, arbi, elephant ear or taro – are considered a delicacy amongst several cultures in India. The most common way of consuming these leaves is in the form of rolls, usually with a paste made of gram flour and one or the other souring agent spread over them. There are little variations in how different parts of India cook these rolls – the Gujaratis call them Patra, and use sesame seeds, jaggery and a hint of garam masala in them, for instance, while the Pathrode of the Udupi-Mangalore regions uses ground rice, coconut, curry leaves and urad daal. I’m a big, big, big fan of the Gujarati-style Patra made using these colocasia leaves!
Growing up in Ahmedabad, Patra would be a common tea-time snack at our place, sometimes store-bought, often home-made. They suit my taste buds just fine – a medley of sweet and sour and salty and spicy. We also loved them because they were so healthy – they are steamed, after all, with no oil, and how much oil to use in the tempering depends entirely upon you!
Back in Ahmedabad, Appa would get big bunches of colocasia leaves when he returned from his weekly round of the local vegetable market. I would get overjoyed to see the big green leaves peeking out of his cloth bag, because that meant that delicious patra would soon be in the making in our kitchen. 🙂 When I shifted to Bangalore, I was so disappointed to see colocasia leaves not very commonly available. After a few years of missing them badly and grappling with the sad, wilted leaves we would sometimes get hold of in certain stores only, I began growing them at home! Yes, that’s how much I love my Patra! 🙂 The dish you see above is made from home-grown colocasia leaves – just how awesome is that?!
Gujarati-style patra is not a very difficult thing to make. The proceedure is quite simple, actually. What it does need is a bit of patience and practice – with time, the movements of cutting the stubborn nerves off without damaging the leaves, that of spreading the gram flour mixture evenly on the leaves, that of rolling up the leaves together, that of steaming them in a way that water doesn’t touch them, become more and more natural and easier. So, if you are about to make patra for the first-ever time and the proceedure looks daunting, please don’t worry – just keep at it and it will become all smooth in time! The end result is totally worth it, I tell you.
Here is how to make Patra, Gujarati-style.
Ingredients (serves 2):
For the colocasia leaf rolls:
- 4 medium-sized tender colocasia leaves
- 3/4 cup gram flour aka besan
- A small piece of tamarind
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 2-3 green chillies
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 pinches asafoetida powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons jaggery powder
For the tempering:
- 4-5 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 2 pinches asafoetida
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
For the garnishing:
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
First, we will get the colocasia leaf rolls ready.
1. Wash the colocasia leaves thoroughly. Pat dry gently with a cotton cloth.
2. Use a pair of scissors to trim down the stem and thicker veins on the leaves, taking care to ensure that the leaves don’t get cut in the process. Keep aside.
3. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for at least 10 minutes. When it cools down, extract a thick juice from the tamarind layer. Keep aside.
4. Peel ginger and chop finely. Chop green chillies finely. Grind both of these ingredients together in a mixer, using a little water. Keep aside.
4. Take the gram flour in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, garam masala, jaggery powder, 2 pinches of asafoetida, the tamarind extract and the ginger-green chillies paste. Mix to a smooth paste using a little water – it should be thick and not too runny. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
5. Spread out the biggest colocasia leaf on a clean work surface, face down. Spread some of the gram flour paste evenly over the entire surface of the leaf. Place another leaf over this, face down, and spread some paste all over it too. Similarly, place another leaf on top, spread some paste, place the last leaf on top, spread the last of the paste. Fold the right and left edges of the leaves together, inwards. Then, roll all the leaves together tightly, from top to bottom. Place the prepared roll in a colander to steam evenly.
Now, we will steam the colocasia leaf roll.
6. Take 1 cup water in a pressure cooker bottom. Place a tall stand over it. Place the colander with the roll atop the stand.
7. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.
8. After the pressure has entirely gone down, open the pressure cooker and allow the roll to cool down. When the roll is cool enough to handle, cut it into pieces that are neither too thick nor too thin.
Now, we will temper the pieces.
9. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard and allow it to pop.
10. Add in the sesame seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
11. Lower flame to medium. Add in the cooked colocasia pieces. Stir gently to coat the pieces evenly with the tempering.
12. Add in the grated coconut. Mix gently. Cook for a couple of seconds on medium flame. Switch off gas.
Lastly, add the garnishing.
13. Add the finely chopped coriander to the pan. Mix gently. Serve the patra hot – they are best had straight off the pan, but can be had cold too.
Check out the following pictures to get a clearer idea of how to make Patra.
1. You can even deep-fry the colocasia leaf rolls, if you want. I prefer the non-deep-fried version, just a simple tempering as above.
2. Do not add more than 4 medium-sized colocasia leaves in a single roll, otherwise it will become too large and unwieldy. If the leaves are too big, roll them 2 at a time.
3. Some people add garlic to the gram flour. I usually don’t.
4. You can do the tempering with ajwain aka carom seeds, instead of mustard – too. I prefer the mustard, though.
5. Amchoor powder can be used instead of tamarind, to add sourness to the patra.
6. Make sure you use a tall stand inside the pressure cooker while steaming the colocasia leaf roll. No water should enter the colander in which you will place the roll.
7. A colander helps in even steaming of the roll, rather than using a closed vessel.
8. You can use red chilli powder instead of green chillies, to spice up the colocasia leaf roll. Use as many or as few green chillies as you want, depending upon how spicy you want the roll to be.
9. Choose fresh, tender colocasia leaves to make this dish, preferably with black veins. Don’t choose mature leaves, as there are more chances of them causing itchiness on your tongue and in your throat.
10. A steamer can be used to cook the colocasia leaf roll, too. We prefer using a pressure cooker instead.
Did you like this recipe for Gujarati-Style Patra? Do let me know in your comments!
I’m sending this recipe over to Fiesta Friday #228.