Egyptian kolkas is a delicious taro root stew made with a garlicky cilantro green sauce, taro, and homemade broth. I’ve never cooked with taro until trying this dish in Egypt, and this taro recipe one of my favorites!
As I’ve been discovering how time-consuming Middle Eastern food is, I’ve got a hack for this recipe at the bottom of the post. The taro root and garlic cilantro sauce can be frozen separately, turning this into a 20-minute weeknight dinner.
If you aren’t sure what taro looks like at the grocery store, it’s a root vegetable. You might need to search for it at an Asian or Middle Eastern supermarket. When I find it, I buy it all up and stick it in my freezer (similar to what I do with fresh mulukhiyah).
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Taro root: The main ingredient for this recipe is taro root. I recommend buying taro root fresh when you can find it. I really like this dish a lot, so I buy taro root in bulk when it is available. To freeze taro root, peel and chop it into 1″ (2.5 cm) squares. If you are unable to find taro root, you can substitute white potato for this recipe.
- Broth: My favorite broth for this recipe is homemade duck broth. Chicken broth and vegetable broth are suitable options as well.
- Swiss chard: I use regular swiss chard for this recipe that’s roughly chopped. I think any type of chard or greens will work, but it might change the flavor a bit.
- Fresh garlic: You definitely need whole fresh garlic cloves for this recipe. Jarred garlic, garlic flakes, garlic powder, or chopped garlic are not appropriate substitutes.
- Fresh cilantro (coriander): I recommend using only the leaves of the cilantro (coriander), however, if you are in a rush, you can use the stems as well.
- Ghee: I highly recommend using ghee to get the right flavor, however it’s not the end of the world if you use butter or olive oil. Just make sure that you don’t burn the butter or olive oil with too hot of a pan.
Tips For The Garlic Cilantro Green Sauce
This sauce is AMAZING! I want to put it on everything. It’s the flavors of the ghee, roasted caramelized garlic, and fresh cilantro that really makes this sauce delicious. Here are some of my tips for making this sauce:
- Use ghee. My favorite fat of choice for this recipe is ghee hands down. Ghee is clarified butter and it has a little bit different taste to butter. If you can’t find ghee, you can use butter, just don’t overheat the pan.
- Don’t let the ghee get too hot. The garlic is roasting and caramelizing in the pan, so make sure the pan is not too hot. Otherwise, the outside will burn and the inside of the garlic will not cook. I set the stovetop to medium-high heat for the first 3 or 4 minutes, then turn it down to medium heat until the garlic is fully cooked.
- Cover the pan. For the garlic to cook through, cover the pan.
- The garlic is finished cooking when it can be easily mashed with a fork. Using your fork mash the garlic in the pan prior to adding the cilantro and swiss chard.
- The vegetables reduce in size a lot. The cilantro and swiss chard will reduce in size once cooked.
What Does Taro Root Taste Like?
Taro root has a similar taste and texture to white potatoes. Taro is slightly firmer than potatoes but has a starchy texture. There is a slightly different after taste than white potatoes.
How To Cook Taro Root
Taro cooks a lot like a potato. First, boil the taro for about 10 minutes before adding the garlicky cilantro green sauce. Then, add the green sauce and boil for another 10 minutes. The taro is fully cooked once it can be pierced with a fork easily.
What Is A Substitute For Taro Root?
Yucca, parsnips, or white potatoes are a good substitute for taro. Although the flavor is not completely the same, these root vegetables come close.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes! This taro stew is easily frozen in 2 parts:
- Freeze the taro root uncooked by peeling the taro root and chopping it into cubes. Add the uncooked taro root to a freezer-friendly storage bag.
- Make the kolkas garlic cilantro green sauce. Add the sauce to a freezer-friendly storage bag.
To make kolkas, add the frozen taro root to some chicken or duck broth. Boil for 10 minutes, or until the taro root has cooked. Add the defrosted green sauce to the taro and broth mixture. Boil on high for another 10 minutes.
Try Some Other Egyptian Recipes:
- Molokhia with Roasted Chicken
- Meat Stuffed Pita Sandwiches – Hawawshi
- Egyptian Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Mesa’ah)
- Okra Stew – Bamia
- Smoked Herring Salad (Renga)
- Ful Medames from Scratch
- Egyptian Ta’ameya
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Mahshi Crumb)
One of my favorite dishes is Egyptian taro root stew in garlic cilantro sauce. This taro recipe is also known as kolkas in Egypt.
- 4 cups taro root chopped into 1″ (2.5 cm) cubes
- 4 cups roughly chopped swiss chard
- 10 garlic cloves
- 1 cup cilantro leaves (packed down)
- 6 cups broth (duck or chicken are the best)
- 1 tbsp ghee
- Salt to taste (depends on the salt level of the broth)
Prepare the Taro Root
- Cut the outside layer of the taro root off like you would a pineapple. Slice the root into 1″ (2.5 cm) cubes.
- Boil the taro root in broth for about 10 minutes while preparing the garlic cilantro sauce.
Prepare the Kolkas Garlic Cilantro Green Sauce
- In a large nonstick frying pan on medium heat, add the ghee. Once the ghee has melted, add the whole cloves of garlic and cover with a lid. Cook for around 8 to 10 minutes flipping the garlic halfway.
- Once the garlic is soft enough to mash with a fork, mash the garlic in the pan with a fork. Add the chopped swiss chard and cilantro leaves. Add the salt. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, swiss chard, and cilantro mixture to a food processor. Blend on high.
Combine the Ingredients
- Pour the blended garlic cilantro sauce into the taro and broth mixture.
- Continue to cook on high heat for about 10 minutes so that the flavors infuse.
- Serve with rice and a squeeze of lime.
- Taro might be hard to find, so white potatoes, yucca, or parsnips can be substituted.
- Taro root can be peeled, cut into chunks, and frozen for up to 4 months in an airtight bag.
- The garlic cilantro sauce can be made in bulk and frozen.
- The nutrition facts do not include rice.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Egyptian
- Serving Size: 1.5 cups
- Calories: 328 calories
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 143 mg
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 4 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 5 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 32 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 16 g
- Cholesterol: 6 mg
Keywords: kolkas, qolqas, taro root, taro recipe, taro stew, taro soup, egyptian oless