Kolokasi Yiahni / Taro in a tomato sauce
Vegan and vegetarian Kolokasi (Kolocasia Esculenta) is a starchy root vegetable commonly known as taro root which is from the same family as yam. It is a native of the Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian national dish called Poi. How it got to Cyprus is not known – some say the Romans introduced it.
Kolokasi can be cooked with pork, lamb or chicken.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 kilo (2 lb) kolokasi (taro root)
½ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, cut into chunks (use the end bits as well)
2-3 tbsp tomato puree
1-2 tsp sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of a lemon
To prepare the taro, top and tail and peel it as you would a potato but slightly deeper. The correct way to cut taro is to snap chunks off with a knife as opposed to slicing it, but I just cut it into large pieces. Apparently doing it this way prevents the taro becoming slimy during cooking and enables it to cook evenly. Do not wash taro, just wipe it with kitchen paper.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the taro very gently until nice and golden all over, remove and keep to one side.
In the same oil, sauté the onions and celery together until soft, then add the taro root to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, mix in the tomato puree, sugar, and add enough warm water to just cover.
Half cover with a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until taro is cooked; try not to stir during cooking as this will break up the taro, instead shake the pan from time to time.
Add the lemon juice, simmer for a few minutes and remove from the heat.