I cook vegetables almost daily. Mostly a stir-fry. Sometimes I add them to dal, or make a mixed vegetable curry. Whenever I plan ahead and think of what to make there’s this one dish I’m always excited about. It’s a simple stir-fry made from a root vegetable called koorka in Malayalam. Koorka has a very distinct, highly addictive flavor. I don’t know its English translation. Usually when I’m stuck with the names of Indian native vegetables or food ingredients, I refer to Wikipedia’s multilingual list and I’m never disappointed. This time, however, there’s no mention of this particular tuber. Why’s that I wonder. It’s mostly found small and round with a dark brown skin, and cream flesh. Have a look at this picture.
Can anyone tell me what this is called in English? Actually, I came across the name “chinese potato” on a couple of websites. I’m not sure how reliable this information is.
Anyway, this is like one of those comfy food I wouldn’t mind having daily. As long as someone else is cleaning. No kidding! The last thing I want to do is clean. Oh man, cleaning koorka is such a hassle, quite a messy job. But the taste is definitely something to savor.
Koorka Mezhukkupuratti — Spiced, Sautéed Chinese Potato
2 cups koorka (Chinese potato?)
1 cup water
Pinch of turmeric powder
2 tablespoon oil
1/3 cup shallots, or chopped onions
6 dry red chilies
1/3 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 sprig curry leaves
Wash the koorka thoroughly in a colander to remove dirt and grit, then soak in water for at least an hour. It may stain your fingers so using a glove is recommended. Rinse off and scrape the skin with a knife, and then immerse in water until ready to cook as the flesh oxidizes and turns brown when exposed to air. Rinse again and cut each koorka into halves, or quarters, or even smaller, depending on the size.
You know, traditionally the skin was peeled by placing the vegetable in a sack and repeatedly beating it on the ground until almost all the skin is removed. Phew, such labor!
Boil the koorka in 1 cup water, a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste, on medium-high heat, for 10 minutes or until the vegetable is tender and almost all the water has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, crush the shallots (if using) and dry chilies in a mortar and pestle.
Heat oil in a wok or large nonstick pan, over medium-low heat. Add mustard seeds and cook until they crackle, about 30 seconds. Stir in the crushed chilies, shallot or onion, and curry leaves, and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the shallots/onions are soft. Add chili powder and toss well. Now tip in the cooked koorka with any remaining water, mix well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice or chapatti.