Easy Colocasia Curry Cooked in the Multani Style
This Multani Kaali Arbi preparation is one that is unique to our family. Or, to be more precise, I have never seen or tasted it anywhere else except in the homes of my extended Multani family, which hails from the Dera Ghazi Khan district in West Punjab. Both, in terms of language and cuisine, there is a lot of overlap between Multani, Sindhi and Punjabi so some of you may feel that the Multani preparations sound familiar. The most well-known Multani preparation is probably the Sohan Halwa – a halwa made of milk, sugar, ghee and cornflour.
But coming back to the arbi, whenever my mom makes or describes it to people for the first time, she feels the need to justify the purplish-grey colour, as if to say “don’t worry, it’s actually delicious”. When I started writing about this, I realised that that defensiveness had percolated a little bit down to me as well. But the simple fact is, it’s actually a delicious recipe and very simple to make. It’s perfect for weeknight dinners or days when your refrigerator lacks too many other veggies and ingredients.
Unlike most Punjabi/Multani recipes, this arbi preparation uses very few ingredients. It even lacks the usual suspects like pyaaz-tamatar masala and generous additions of ginger-garlic. Instead, it is a light, watery vegetable curry and the hero is the arbi, or colocasia as it is called in English.
In our home, it is the recipe we turn to when we want something simple and light for dinner, without spending hours in the kitchen. The kaali arbi is best enjoyed with hot phulkas and fresh paneer-onion-tomato-kachumbar-salad or a simple paneer bhurji.
To make this dish, it is essential to use a traditional Indian iron kadhai. That is what causes the colour to change and it won’t work without.
Here’s What I Used for 3-4 Servings:
500 gms arbi (colocasia)
1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
4 cups water
Chopped coriander leaves, to garnish
Here’s how I made it:
First, I washed and peeled the arbi. I washed the peeled arbi again to make sure all the dirt was gone — it’s a root vegetable and catches a lot of dirt like potatoes and beetroots.
I sliced them into rounds of 1/4 inch thickness, carefully, because they are quite slimy & slippery once peeled and you could potentially hurt yourself.
Heating the oil in the traditional iron kadhai, I fried the arbi on high heat for a few minutes until lightly browned.
Next, I added the salt and red chilli powder and stirred it to combine. Keep in mind that here it is better to use kutti lal mirch rather than kashmiri/deggi mirch as the latter have more colour and can make the curry a little reddish. I had only kashmiri at that point so that’s what I used.
I tossed the arbi for a few more seconds until the salt and chilli powder had coated it well, then I added the water and brought the curry to a rolling boil.
I lowered the heat to medium-low and simmered the curry, uncovered, until the arbi was tender but not mushy. Approximately 20 minutes. By now the arbi was a light purplish-grey and the water had reduced almost by half. You may add some more boiling water to thin out the curry if you like, but we usually don’t.
Turning off the heat, I let the arbi rest in the kadhai, covered, for 20-30 minutes before serving, garnished with chopped coriander leaves. The final rest in the kadhai allows the colour and flavours to intensify and deepen.
I like to serve the arbi with fresh soft phulkas and a paneer-onion-tomato-cucumber kachumber salad.
How do you like cooking arbi? Leave me your suggestions in the comments below — I’d love to try your recipe/ideas.
- 500 gms arbi (colocasia)
- 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- 4 cups water
- Chopped coriander, to garnish
- Wash and peel the arbi. Wash it again to make sure all the dirt has been removed.
- Slice the arbi into rounds of ¼” thickness. This step should be undertaken a little carefully because peeled arbi can be a little slippery and you can cut yourself.
- Heat oil in a traditional Indian iron kadhai. Add the arbi and fry on high heat until lightly browned.
- Add the salt, red chilli powder and toss for a few more seconds until well coated. Add water, mix and bring to a boil.
- Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the arbi is tender but not mushy, approximately 20 minutes. By now the arbi and the curry will be light grey and half the water would have evaporated by now, which is the way we like it.
- If you want a little more curry, then add some boiling hot water at this stage and bring the whole curry back to a boil on high heat.
- Check and adjust the salt, if required, and turn off the stove. Let the curry rest in the kadhai for 15-20 minutes before serving. The colour of the arbi will deepen to a purplish-grey.
- Garnish with coriander leaves before serving with hot phulkas and paneer bhurji/ paneer kachumbar salad.
This recipe was originally written as a guest post on Hina’s blog, Fun Food and Frolic.