Kelkass (Colocasia esculenta) is one of those weird old vegetables that you may not know how to use. Still, its plant is the most gracious ever, with large, light green leaves called elephant ears (if ever someone happens to see the plant!). The taro itself is the root, the tuber, with a dark brown and hairy exterior and a hard, white starchy flesh. It is hard to peel and stains the hands deep red and makes them itchy. So peel with care . . . and use gloves! Taro potato, or taro root, is a common ingredient in African, Oceanic, Indian, and Japanese cuisines—which makes it easy to find in specialized groceries. Serve this dish with bread and radishes.
- 1 cup (250 g) dried chickpeas
- 2 1/4 pounds (1 kg) taro root
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 5 medium yellow onions
- 5 tablespoons (75 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 cup (120 g) tahini
- Juice of 4 lemons
- Kamal Mouzawak
Soak the chickpeas in water to cover for at least 10 hours. Drain before proceeding.
Peel the taro root (wearing plastic kitchen gloves), and cut into big chunks. Wash well, drain, and pat dry. Heat a deep pot or deep fryer with several inches of vegetable oil and deep-fry the taro until lightly colored all over. Drain on paper towels.
Cut the onions into thin slices. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions until they start to color, about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and 1 cup (235 ml) water, and cook over a low fire until the chickpeas are cooked but still a bit firm. Add the fried taro and cook for 30 more minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the tahini and lemon juice. Add to the taro when well cooked. Season to taste with salt, bring to a boil, and let it boil for 20 minutes, so that the sauce thicken and coats the taro pieces. Serve at room temperature.