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 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.
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.
- It's optional to remove the center stem from the swiss chard. My mother-in-law removes the stem, but I keep it to save some time. Because the swiss chard gets blended, you can't really tell a difference texture-wise.
- Use a blender or food processor. You can either use a food processor or a blender for the green sauce.
- If using more than one taro root, cook them separately. Different taro roots may need different cooking times. If you mix them together, you might end up with some pieces really cooked and other pieces undercooked.
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 15 to 20 minutes before adding the garlicky cilantro green sauce. Then, add the green sauce and boil for another 5 minutes. 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.
Here's the web story link for how to make kolkas taro root stew.
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.
Is This Freezer-Friendly?
Yes! This taro stew is easily frozen in 2 parts:
- Freeze the taro uncooked by peeling it and chopping it into cubes. Add the uncooked taro 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 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.
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)