Fasting recipes are common in Hindu India. Fasting is often undertaken 1 day per week, and at auspicious times such as the holy periods and festivals. Fasting is a little different – in India fasting can mean 1 or 2 small meals per day consisting of light food that adheres to numerous restrictions.
The rules about fasting vary from region to region, festival to festival, and family to family, and involves the grains, lentils, vegetables and spices that can/cannot be used.
But fasting recipes are not restricted to times of fasting – they are delicious in their own right and can be made any time!
This recipe is a fasting one based on arbi (arvi) and suran, cooked in tamarind. It does include chilli and mustard seeds which might be restricted for some. They can be left out. The vegetables cooked simply in a tamarind base are delicious too! It is a very simple recipe without onion or additional spices. It is quick and easy to make.
This is a fairly bland dish, so if not fasting serve it alongside punchy curries with layers of complex flavours.
Elephant Foot Yam and Taro with Chilli-Tamarind-Mustard and Crispy Curry Leaves
use 250g in total of arbi (taro), suran (elephant foot yam) and/or sweet potatoes. Even potatoes can be added.
1 small ball of tamarind, or 0.25 tspn tamarind concentrate dissolved in 1 cup water
0.5 tspn turmeric
1 tspn rice flour or chickpea flour
0.5 tspn jaggery
sea salt to taste
1 tspn ghee
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
2 green chillies, chopped
2 Indian dried red chillies
8 – 10 curry leaves
10 dry toasted/roasted curry leaves
Prepare the vegetables and chop into bite sized cubes. Simmer in boiling water until tender.
If using dried tamarind, soak in 1 cup hot water for 15 mins, then strain, pushing the pulp through, and discard seeds and fibres.
Heat the ghee in a kadhai and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop then add the dried red chillies. After a few moments add the green chillies and curry leaves. Saute for up to a minute, then add the turmeric followed by the tamarind water and jaggery. Simmer for 1 minute.
Add the vegetables with a pinch or two of salt and simmer until they are very soft. If necessary to thicken the gravy, dissolve the flour in a little water and stir into the gravy, stirring until it thickens.
Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
Garnish with coriander leaves and crispy curry leaves (dry roasted).
recipe notes and alternatives
If looking for more depth of flavour in the sauce, add a few fenugreek seeds, 1 tspn coriander powder and/or pinch hing to the tadka.