Kolokassi, from its ancient name “colocasia esculenta”, known as taro, is a root vegetable prepared the same way as potato. Chirino me Kolokassi, is a recipe from the Cypriot cuisine, which is stewed pork with taro.
Kolokassi is a root vegetable also known as wild taro, dasheen, elephant ears or Colocasia esculenta, usually cooked with meat and goes well with pork but also chicken and beef.
Apart from Cyprus, this root can also be found in Greece but only on the island of Ikaria, in Egypt but also in Hawaii and Tahiti and in other parts of the world.
This root is available from February to December and it can be stored for some days. I stored it in the refrigerator for two weeks and it was in perfect condition.
Taro is most commonly prepared the same way as potato. To prepare, peel the skin thickly and cut and break into large pieces as otherwise a mucilaginous, sticky juice, which will be released and the kolokassi will melt while cooking. Taro can also be prepared by cutting away the skin and leaving whole, rubbing the flesh with lemon juice then frying or baking slowly in oil until tender.
The traditional way of cooking this meal was to fry the meat and taro in a lot of oil and then it was transferred in a saucepan with the oil and the tomatoes, celery and spices and it was then simmered until the meat became tender and the sauce thick.
Care should be taken as to how to peel and cut kolokassi as otherwise a sticky juice will be released and the kolokassi will melt while cooking.
Recently I visited Cyprus and could not resist the temptation of bringing two roots with me. I stored them in the refrigerator waiting for my son to return from Crete, where he has been working since April. Well, yesterday he returned and as it is one of his favourites, I prepared it for him and it was delicious.
Chirino me Kolokassi (Pork stew with Taro)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 75 minutes
- 1 kilo (2.20 lbs) pork, from the neck or shoulder, cut in portions
- 2 – 3 medium taros (kolokassi)
- 4 – 6 large stalks of celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
- 4 ripe tomatoes or 1 can (500 grams – 1.10 lb) of whole tomatoes with juice, blended in food processor with 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing
- 1 cup water
- To prepare the kolokassi, cut the ends and peel the skin. Hold it with a paper towel taking care that you do not soil the rest of kolokassi with your hands. Do not wash but wipe with a paper towel if necessary.
- With a sharp knife, cut across 1 ½ cm (½ inch) thick halfway then break off. Repeat to the end.
- Heat the oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the kolokassi. Remove to a platter and sauté the meat as well. Turn the meat over and add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Return taro back to the pan, add the celery, season with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes. Finally, add water and bring to a boil.
- Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour until both meat and kolokassi are tender and sauce is ready and thick.
The same recipe can be made vegan without the meat and served as a side dish. It is cooked same as above, until taro is soft.
This and many more Cypriot recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!