Aug 24, 2011

Kindergarten Chronicles and Sprouting Arbi Fry

Past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me. My five and a half year old started kindergarten yesterday and last week was spent preparing for school, buying school supplies, going to meet the teacher, going to buy new clothes… Every day was a reminder that my baby is growing up, fast.

When I could not find clothes for him in the toddler section, I ventured into the ‘big boy’ section. No more cute T-shirts with “Mommy’s Boy” written on them. From now on it was all solids, stripes and plaids. I almost cried on the floor of the shop except I remembered that he still liked his Toy Story backpack and I had to go look for a matching lunch box.

Fortunately, I found the TS lunch box while shopping for school supplies. Once the mile long list of markers, pencils, erasers, folders and notebooks was done, I was back at home preparing for his first day of school. Lunch was agreed upon, a PB&J sandwich, pencil box filled according to the teacher’s specification and clean socks and clothes were ironed and ready for next day.
Sprouting Taro: my entry to Susan's B&W Wednesdays

Amidst the weak long running around, I totally overlooked the arbi (taro root) lying in the pantry. It is a vegetable reserved for the kid's dad, just like this one is. In Maharashtrian households, arbi is called alu and the stir fry alu chi bhaji.  The picky eater that I was, I never did take to it.  My mom would cook it with some potatoes thrown in to camaflouge the arbi.

As an adult, my fondness for arbi stops at the musty, earthy smell that emanates from it. Unlike bhindi (okra), it is not a sticky vegetable when raw. But boil the little spuds and the starch oozes out and seeps into the water it is boiled in.  From there, it is all downhill – peeling, chopping, stir frying is a big sticky mess. The good news is that with enough frying, the stickiness goes away and the vegetable turns crispy with a meaty bite to it, not unlike crispy, stir fried boiled potatoes.

To avoid the stickiness of the arbi, you can do one of the following two things:

1. Peel, chop and stir fry the raw arbi roots. It will take longer to cook through but you will avoid a sticky mess on the chopping board and the knife.
2. Do what I do and par-boil the arbi. It will still be sticky but not as much, plus it will cook faster.

Alu chi bhaji / Arbi Stiry Fry

5-6 arbi roots
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1/2 tsp asafetida powder
1 tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
Wash and remove as much outer fibers as possible. In a microwave proof shallow container cover the arbi roots with enough water. On high power, zap for five to six minutes. Let cool and peel the skin. Cut into thin half moons or quarter moons.

Heat a non-stick pan with a tablespoon of oil. Turn the heat to medium low and add the turmeric powder, carom seeds and asafetida powder. Give it a quick stir, taking care not to burn the carom seeds. Add the red chili powder and the cut quarter moons. Mix in the arbi with spices so that the arbi is coated evenly with turmeric powder. Add salt and cook till done through and crispy.

Serve with whole wheat tortillas or as a side with rice.


  1. I love this fry very much..looks delicious

  2. It is a vegetable I love to eat. But hesitate to buy, I hate the stickiness. I generally boil them with a little tamarind, peel and then fry.

    And yes, it is hard when children grow up... but you get used to it. But they remain our babies forever!!!!

  3. Looks delicious, I never tried making at home becoz as u said its very sticky, and I fear I amy mess it up :-)

  4. I hat arbi- so much so that it isn't allowed inside my house! But I love your pic of sprouting arbi. Never seen anything like this before.

  5. Yep, back to school excitement everywhere. Good luck to your l'l one! Thanks for the tip on parboiling the arbi in the microwave. Love the ever-yummy arbi fry!

  6. Love arbi but rarely cook it because I make a mess cooking it and it never turns out crisp and dry like I want it.

    My niece is just three and she's going to school and talks of "when I was a kid" ... :) :(

  7. It is crazy to see how fast these kids are growing. My son started 1st grade and he is already into size 7 clothes and I am like whoa !!!

    Anyways, coming to arbi, I do not enjoy cooking it, but love eating and I like your tips of peeling, chopping and then boiling, will give it a try next time :)

  8. I too forget arbi sometimes and allow it to root :) lovely click...
    Krithi's Kitchen

  9. Time to re-think about what needs to be done to get back shopping in the "Toddlers" section, what say ?

    :-D:-D *** Runs fast ****

  10. My little one also started kindergarten this year...seems like these 5 years passed by so quickly...all the very best to your little one ...nice recipe ...I also prefer the stir fried way to eat these

  11. Adding a little coriender powder to the Alu chi bhaji will add to the taste and it coats the arbi and makes it dry.

    I follow all ur blogs and enjoy reading them.

    All the best to A.

  12. Starting KG is a milestone indeed- best wishes to your son for a new school year! And I can imagine your mixed emotions :)

    I love how simple stir fries with spice powders can salvage vegetables in very little time- the arbi fry looks delicious.

  13. They look wild and heathen, ideal models for B/W. Thanks for your great shot, Jaya.

  14. We are in the same boat as you and know how you feel. Good luck to the kiddo.
    I don't remember eating Arbi in the recent years as M does not like it.But my aayi used to make something similar.

  15. If the arbi is rolled in a mixture of rice flour, red chilli powder and jeera powder and salt and then fried, it doesnt stick so much and even better I drizzle oil and roast this mixture in the oven nowadays and the oil consumption is halved.


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