The ultimate guide to homemade Patra. These steamed colocasia leaves are rolled with sweet and sour tamarind paste inside. Pan-fry for a crispy vegan and gluten-free Indian snack. They're perfect with chai.
5largefresh colocasia leaves(arvi/arbi/taro leaves) available from Indian grocers
1tspground fennel seeds
1/2tspground cumin seeds
1small pinchbicarbonate of soda(baking soda)
2.5cmpiece gingerpeeled and grated
2green chilliesground to a paste
5tbspfresh tamarind pulp(or 2 1/2 tbsp from concentrate)
100gjaggery, melted in 60ml hot wateror soft brown sugar
For the tadka:
3tbspsunflower oilor any cooking oil
1tspasafoetidause pure for a gluten-free recipe
2tbspfresh coriander leavesto garnish
To prepare the colocasia leaves:
Begin by wiping the colocasia leaves clean with a damp kitchen towel. Clean both sides thoroughly.
Use a sharp paring knife to laterally remove the thick spine that runs down the leaf. Do not cut it out completely. Simply run the knife across the stalk to flatten it so it feels flat to the touch. Continue this process for all of the veins that branch out from the centre. This is an important step so take your time and ensure you trim off much of the thick parts. Once complete, the colocasia leaf should feel floppy when you pick it up.
Repeat the trimming for all the leaves.
To make the batter:
In a large bowl, combine the chickpea flour, rice flour, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground fennel seeds, ground cumin seeds, chilli powder, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Whisk to combine.
Add the grated ginger, green chilli paste, tamarind and melted jaggery water. Slowly add the water, whisking all the time to ensure you remove as many lumps as possible. Continue whisking for 3-4 minutes until the paste is smooth, like a thick American pancake batter. Set aside for 10 minutes.
To assemble the Patra:
Organise the colocasia leaves by size. The assembly process will begin with the largest leaves.
Take the largest colocasia leaf and lay it (dull side up) out on a clean, flat surface. Top with a large spoonful of batter. Use a rubber spatula, or your hands to spread the batter over the leaf, covering every inch.
Take the second largest leaf and place it dull side-up in the opposite direction to the first leaf. It should look a bit like a butterfly, the four corners resembling wings. Repeat the spreading process so that the second leaf is covered and place the next leaf in the opposite direction once again. Think of it like we're fattening up the butterfly.
Once you've stacked all five leaves, cover the final with more batter.
Fold one side of the leaves down to the centre. Repeat for the other side so the leaves meet in the middle. It should form a rough rectangle.
Cover with more batter.
Starting from the short side, begin to form a tight roll. Ensure the roll is as tight as it can be without the batter squeezing out or the leaves breaking. You should now have a fat log.
Rub any remaining batter on the outside of the log to stick down any loose ends.
To steam the Patra:
Place a metal ring inside a large pan. Fill the pan with around 3-4cm hot water. Place a greased metal tray on top of the ring and Put the Patra log on top. Make sure the water doesn't touch the tray. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and steam the Patra over a medium-high heat for 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a conventional steamer.
To test if the Patra are ready, carefully remove the lid from the pan and prick through the centre with a cocktail stick, like you would if you were testing the doneness of a cake. If the cocktail stick comes out clean, it's ready. Carefully remove the log from the steamer and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
To finish the Patra:
Slice the cooled Patra into 1/2cm pieces using a sharp knife. If you prefer a lighter snack, you can eat them as they are without pan frying.
For the tadka:
To pan-fry Patra the traditional way, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to finish popping. Add asafoetida, sesame seeds and optional curry leaves.
Arrange the Patra slices in the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown and crispy all over. Remove from the pan and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve warm or at room temperature with masala chai.