One of the most versatile and widely cultivated crops in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh is the humble kachalu. Kachalu (Colocasia Esculenta (L.)) is a root vegetable that is revered by locals for its medicinal, healing and nutritional properties.
The corms, leaves and stalks are used to prepare traditional medicine as well as local delicacies. The juice of the tuber is used to treat blood disorders and digestive ailments. The most common dish prepared from the pahadi kachalu is pickle or sabzi.
Tender kachalu is hand-picked, washed, cleaned thoroughly, peeled and cut into round pieces. It is cooked in mustard oil till it becomes slightly soft in texture. The juice of the native galgal is added and the mixture is stirred for a few minutes. An array of freshly ground spices like red chilli, turmeric, thyme, cumin and asafoetida are added along with salt.
The starchy taro is allowed to cool and then put inside a clay jar or pot to ferment. The spices really enhance the flavour of this much-loved tuber that is generally consumed over a period of a year.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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