Kolokassi

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This is a Cypriot dish that we had often during my childhood. It is the taro that gives kolokassi its special flavour, although you could probably make it with another root vegetable like celeriac or even sweet potatoes. This is often made with chunks of pork instead of the chicken — you could use either.

Ingredients

  • 900 g (2 lb) taro
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 × 1.3 kg (3 lb) chicken, skinned and cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 30 g (1 oz) celery leaves, chopped
  • 2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste (puree)
  • juice of 2 lemons

Method

Peel the taro. Don’t rinse it, but rub it clean with a damp cloth or kitchen paper. Cut the taro into chunks by just chipping into it with a sharp knife and then breaking off pieces of about 3 cm (an inch). Leave the taro pieces in a bowl with a little splash of lemon juice over them and a sprinkling of salt.

Heat the oil in a wide casserole dish and fry the chicken on both sides until it is lightly golden. Remove the chicken and add the onions to the dish, stirring constantly. When they look like they could start sticking, add the butter and stir for a few minutes more. Return the chicken to the dish, season with salt and pepper and add the celery leaves and taro.

Dissolve the tomato paste in about cups (825 ml) of hot water and add to the casserole. When it comes back to the boil, cover, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes – 1 hour, without stirring the chicken around too much but checking that it doesn’t stick. Halfway through this time, add the lemon juice and taste for seasoning.

The chicken and taro should be very tender, but not falling apart, with a good quantity of stewy juice. Leave it to stand for a bit before serving, so that it’s not too hot.