Patra is one of my all time favourite Gujarati dishes. My Baa (maternal grandmother) used to make them for breakfast when I was little using fresh colocasia leaves and her own spice mix. I was too little to really appreciate her or her patra which makes me so incredibly sad. However, I wasn’t so little that I don’t remember the wonderful smells in the kitchen and the taste of this lovingly prepared dish. Though as a child I would ladle over copious amounts of plain yoghurt to stop the stinging of chilli on my tongue.
I have used homegrown colocasia leaves in the recipe below as I was lucky enough to find a bulb in Burford Garden Centre earlier this year and successfully grow it in my allotment. You can find the leaves in most Asian grocers in packs of 10.
- 2 large colocasia leaves
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1.5 level tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp finely grated or minced ginger
- 2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
- 3 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 2 tbsp grated jaggery
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 tsp small black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 heaped tbsp freshly grated coconut
- fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
To make them
- Clean both sides of the colocasia leaf using a wet cloth. Just wipe carefully down all the spines to remove any traces of dust or dirt.
- Carefully thin any thick spines being careful not to rip the leaves then set aside to dry.
- Mix the chickpea flour, salt, red chilli powder, ginger, green chillies, tamarind pulp and jaggery together with a little water to give you a smooth paste which is the consistency of peanut butter. Beat to ensure all the lumps of flour have been removed.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your palette. If it is too sour, add a little more jaggery, if too sweet add more tamarind.
- Lay both leaves out on a flat work surface and divide the paste between the two.
- Evenly coat each leaf with the paste and then roll the leaf up so you have a long cigar shape.
- Place each cigar into a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. It’s fine to cut the cigar in two if your steamer isn’t wide enough.
- Leave the cigars to cool completely otherwise you will not be able to cut them cleanly as the paste will be too moist.
- When cooled, slice them into rounds approx 1cm thick.
- Heat the oil in a wok on a medium flame. You can test if the oil is ready by adding a few mustard seeds. If they fizzle and pop then it’s ready.
- Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and sesame seeds in quick succession. Be careful as they may spit at you.
- Carefully add the sliced steamed patra and stir fry gently until some of them start to brown and crisp on the edges. About 5 minutes.
- Stir through the coconut and if your are using it, add some freshly chopped coriander and mix well.
Serve hot with a side of plain yoghurt.
You can also buy tins of ready prepared patra in Asian grocers. If you prefer starting with those, here’s an easy recipe to prepare them.