Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Koorkka Olathiyathu – An aromatic spicy stir-fry with a special variety of tuber.

The thought or the mere mention of Koorkka takes me back to a particular ritual practiced at home...a ritual my mother carried out...... a sack filled with Koorkka was thrashed on the floor until its skins fell off partially. Then she would spend the rest of the evening scraping the skins off with a knife and at the end of this ritual her fingers and nails would be left with some dark brown stains, so she could save some time in the morning and get us ready for school and pack our lunch boxes too……that was one of those rare days I asked my mother to keep rice and side dishes instead of non –rice items for the lunch box...I looked forward to opening the lunch box to get a whiff of that tantalizing aroma emanating from the stir fry my mother prepared with koorkka......that smell still entices me and still makes me drool...... the only difference is that neither do I thrash the sack on the floor nor do I have brown stains on my fingers....instead I buy a frozen packet of scraped and cleaned Koorkka and try to recreate the same smell and taste of home and I must say, the frozen packet I get here is not all that tastes really good , especially when the dish is accented by the distinct flavour of coconut oil and the aroma of fresh curry leaves.

Koorkka is a particular variety of tuber widely used in Kerala kitchens. On the frozen packet I got, it is written 'Chinese Potato ' but the chinese potato I have seen here at the local farmers market has no resemblance with the Koorkka I have seen back home. I am not certain of the English name of this particular tuber, but a post by Inji Pennu has some significant information. Please check her post and the picture of Koorkka she has harvested from her backyard.

Koorkka Olathiyathu/Stir -Fry is one of my favourite side dishes. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy this dish as a snack along with a glass of ice cold of my childhood pleasures :) It is one of the simplest preparations but something that gains its character with a dash of coconut oil and a touch of curry leaves.

  • 2 cups Koorkka, skin scraped and cut into small pieces
  • 4-5 Indian green chillies, cut lengthwise
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 15-17 small red pearl onions ( If big, use around 8-10)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed dry red chillies/ red chilly flakes (adjust as per your tolerance)
  • 1 ½ tbsp + ½ tsp coconut oil
  • Water to cook Koorkka
  • Cook chopped Koorkka along with turmeric powder, green chillies , salt and enough water in a pressure cooker or on a shallow pan, until it is cooked fully and soft.
  • Crush small red pearl onions and garlic cloves with mortar and pestle or pound and crush with the flat end of a rolling pin.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add crushed onions, garlic and stir in low flame till translucent. Tear off half of the curry leaves and add to this; sprinkle crushed dry red chillies/chilli flakes and stir for a minute without burning the same. Now add the cooked Koorkka (without any water) and let it cook along with the onion-garlic chilli base for a minute or two in low flame. Do a taste-test and adjust salt if required. Just before turning off the heat, tear of the rest of the curry leaves and sprinkle ½ tsp coconut oil . Do not skip this final ceremony as it really enhances the taste and aroma of this dish.
  • Serve as a side dish for rice.

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  1. Shn, thats a lovely dish! I just got hold of few fresh one's frm Indian groceries and wd implement my mil's boil it to skin it technique!My side - in konkani its called Cookaa-'r' missing, the same tech as ur mom used to was at my place too..but the taste sooo yummy!! :D tks for sharing!

  2. I love koorka..was searching for it here since so long,bt sadly could'nt find any..your post left me drooling..:(

  3. Hey just back from cooker ritual ...hee while cleaning the mud off Koorka, recalled that the freshest lot can b skinned with a new scrub and under flowing water or with a tub full of water, insert it in the water n clean ... hope there is clarity here! Am in quite a hurry..hence

  4. I love kurka and just pass me that bowl wih rice and koorka dish please.
    Here we don't get the kerala rice.
    Ohhhhh i love love kurkka.........

  5. Hey Shn,you sure have a talent to make ordinary things sound/look extraordinary.So drooling was I,after seeing the pic and I called up my amma to say this and she was drooling for Koorka is something she couldnt digest!!Surely gonna buy a batch and eat it with black hands..;-)

  6. Wow, Thats one of my favorite too. Since I don't have koorka at my home, I am going to make cherupayar the same way tonight.Your posts always leaves me drooling :)) Keep it up!

    Ah, an also, I got the chance to comment 1st:))

  7. ooooh i've missed so much on your blog - i really have to read all your posts! let me begin with koorka! i love koorka and to me the smell of koorka is like earth. it has the smell of wet earth which i love! and yes the cleaning is the tough part - eating's the part which gets done too soon!

  8. Another all time favourite.:)
    Its tough to clean the stuff and if that isn't bad enough koorka isn't something I like.
    I know, I know. Many have wondered how I could be from Kerala?
    The things one does for loved ones. I just wish we could frozen koorka here too.:)

  9. My all time favorite is Koorka. I plan to make it the way you made, though i too make it somewhat similar. Love your blog for the most authentic kerala dishes.

    I also have a question re. chicken roast. Did you know boneless chicken or with bones?

  10. I love Koorka..even my mom prepares the stir fry kind...i just love it....i think it is called chinese potatoe here ..i mean in US....did u get this from Indian grocery store? i couldnt find it in the PAtel store here....anyways lovely presentation....i have a similar kadai pan....


  11. Thats so lovely shn!...can imagine the taste!

  12. Hi Shn,
    I just made koorkka this past weekend. It was very easy because I found a package at the Malayalee store that had cooked koorka! It was Sara's brand. All I had to do was saute the other ingredients and add the koorkka! Very yummy and very easy but a package (about 12 oz) costs around $3!

  13. how do you manage to come up everytime with my favourite dishes...this one comes a close second to chakka kuru maanga curry..;-D

    will surely try to have this time around...

  14. Hey shn, is this different from Taro ? I never tasted this. But all those pics and comments make me drool :)

  15. I thought it was called 'Colocasia esculenta'

  16. Hey I used to have it as a snack too as a child..
    One of my evergreen favourite dish. I never used Garlic for this before..would definitely try this recipe sometime ..thanks

  17. evdenna ee patram.. nalla bhangi..:-))

  18. i know, even i was thinking what mathew was thinking...
    vayayill vellam varunnu...
    iam so jealous of u..u being in US are getting koorka and me being just 800 kms away from home can just look at those pics and drool!!

  19. :) iam anti-koorka, but ur pictures look lovely!

  20. Hi Shn,

    I remember ISG had a post too about 'chinese potato' for Jihva Toor Dal. Now I will have to look for Koorkka in the Indian store.

    As always, love to read your tale behind the dish :)

  21. Oh, my gosh, Shn. That sounds like a time intensive process for your mom. I have never made this dish, but it looks truly wonderful.

  22. evdenna ee patram.. nalla bhangi
    koorkka my avorite..ummmmmmmmmmmmmm

  23. I remember my mom's struggle with koorkka too, but it was totally worth it. :) I, like you go for the prepared frozen variety... :)
    We make koorkka mezhukkupuratti in a similar way, but always add coconut slices... yumm...

  24. Thank you all your sweet notes.....:) and wonderful tips too and great to meet fellow koorkka lovers and anti koorkkas too :D

    Rashmi, I got it from a Kerala store @ Chicago

    Naagurinchi, no dear...this is different from taro....this one is quite tiny.

    Seema, garlic is optional...

    Ras, paatram is from a store named, World Market.... it is just a small serving bowl,not an actual wok :)

    Divz, I dont get it either where we live...I pick these stuff on our road trip to Chicago :)

    Linda, ohh...i havent seen that one...should check her blog....btw, check the store person for Koorkka itself....


  25. Shn, wow..this was tasting the late in posting feedback, the koorka was freshest, the recipe mind blowing! Also I didn't hv black fingers n palms, flashed the ready dish thru webcam, as excited as a kid cd b, the other end, my mil was too thrilled n best was 3/4 dish cleaned by hubby, my kids aged 4 n 3 also loved it..the rest 1/4th! I cd get only a tiny bit, out of the world! Tks for the timely recipe!!!I agree with Divya Kudua, u make ordinary to look like extra ordinary! Tks again!

  26. I have never heard of this, but your description of this dish is making me want to rush to the local Indian grocery and check out the frozen section...will do so on my next trip there :-)

  27. wat is koorka is it chinese potato


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