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Assamese colocasia stem stir-fry (Kosu tenga)

I traveled to Assam for the New Year and was fortunate to have a wonderful home chef, Morami, teach me a few recipes. I was not aware that versions of Assamese food could be spicy and packed with flavor. I also discovered that the markets are filled with really fresh vegetables of the best quality I have seen anywhere, the culture prizes it s large variety of vegetables that are fresh. This trip was an eye-opened from a culinary perspective.

I was aware that you could enjoy the colocasia root (Arbi) and leaf , but was not aware that the stem was also edible till this recipe. Colocasia comes in a number of varieties, green stemmed, purple stemmed (used here) and black stemmed. You can use any of them for this recipe. This dish is delicate, the stems are butter soft and subtly flavored. The spices compliment the light flavors and the green chilies add the punch of heat.

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3 cups colocasia stems, about 2 large stems, cleaned

2 tablespoons mustard oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup thinly sliced onions

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 tablespoon ginger paste

3-4 green chilies, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup water

Cilantro, to garnish

To clean the colocasia stems, skin the outside of the stems with a knife, the thick fibers come off quite easily, or with a peeler. The inside of the stems are soft and do not need to be peeled. Cut into small bite sized pieces and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok and add the cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the onions, salt, garlic, ginger and green chilies and sauté till the onions are golden. Add the turmeric and toss for 20 seconds.

Add the colocasia stems and water and continue to simmer. The colocasia stems cook fast and the water should be completely evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Careful to keep the stems from turning to mush and breaking down.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro and Assamese rice roti or chapattis.

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