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 is one of my favorite Egyptian recipes!
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).
What I Love About This Recipe
The garlic cilantro green 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 make this sauce delicious.
I love that the cilantro green sauce, broth, and chopped taro root can be frozen (separately) in a bag for a really quick weeknight meal.
Kolkas, is a hearty flavorful stew that can be made vegan. I prefer to make this stew with duck broth and eat it with Egyptian Calrose rice.
- 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 roughly chopped regular swiss chard for this recipe. 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.
How To Make The Garlic Cilantro Green Sauce
In a nonstick pan on medium-high heat add some ghee. Add the whole garlic cloves and caramelize for about 3 to 4 minutes uncovered. Make sure to turn the garlic over on all sides.
Don't let the ghee get too hot. Otherwise, the outside of the garlic will burn and the inside of the garlic will not cook.
Turn down the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. This is to make sure that the garlic fully cooks.
The garlic is finished cooking when it can be easily mashed with a fork. Using your fork mash the garlic in the pan before adding the cilantro and swiss chard.
Cover the vegetables and cook on medium for about 4 minutes. They will reduce in size a lot.
Use a blender or food processor. You can use a food processor or a blender for the garlic cilantro green sauce.
How To Cook Taro Root
If using more than one taro root, cook them separately. Different taro roots may need different cooking times. If you mix them, you might end up with some cooked pieces and other pieces undercooked.
Taro cooks a lot like a potato. First, boil the taro for about 15 to 20 minutes until tender. When you can easily pierce the taro like butter, the taro is fully cooked. Depending on the taro root itself, the cooking time will vary.
Add the cilantro garlic green sauce and boil for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice.
Tips and Tricks
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.
It's optional to remove the center stem from the swiss chard. Some people remove the stem, but I keep it to save time. Because the swiss chard gets blended, you can't tell a difference texture-wise.
Is This Freezer-Friendly?
Yes! This taro stew is easily frozen in two parts: the cubed taro root and the green sauce.
Freeze the uncooked taro by peeling it and chopping it into cubes. Add the uncooked taro to a freezer-friendly storage bag.
Make the garlic cilantro green sauce. Add the sauce to a freezer-friendly storage bag.
To make kolkas from frozen taro and frozen cilantro sauce, add the frozen taro to some chicken or duck broth. Boil for 20 minutes or until the taro root has cooked.
Add the defrosted green sauce to the taro and broth mixture. Boil on high for another 5 minutes.
Yucca, parsnips, or white potatoes are good substitutes for taro. Although the flavor is not completely the same, these root vegetables come close.
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 aftertaste than white potatoes.
Other Authentic Egyptian Recipes
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Egyptian Kolkas - Taro Root Stew
- 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 tablespoon 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 covered for about 15 to 20 minutes while preparing the garlic cilantro sauce. Each taro root is different,so they may differ in cooking time. The taro is done when its color is all white and you can cut into it easily (like slicing a cooked potato).
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 5 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.