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Hirino me Kolokassi: Pork with Kolokassi

Well it’s not often that we get to write about pork in the course of our Middle Eastern rantings. For this we have of course made Cyprus an honorary member of the region.
Kolokassi crops up in Veggiestan, wherein we have featured two recipes for this underrated vegetable: one for kolokassi chips with skordalia, and one for a lentil and kolokassi bake. But to be honest this is our favourite thing to do with kolokassi: a very traditional Cypriot casserole.
We like kolokassi, and it is pretty easy to get in the UK now, AND WE HAVE JUST STARTED SELLING IT. It is so easy to use in its frozen format AND SO CHEAP – it would be almost a crime for you NOT to buy any on your next trip to visit us.
If you to decide to use the fresh version (which often uses its Afro-Caribbean aliases, taro/dsheen, on these shores), you will need to peel it without subsequently washing the flesh, and then cut halfway through each tuber before chipping chunks off it (washing it and slicing all the way through makes it rather mucilaginous when cooked). Also remember that kolokassi needs to be well cooked and can never be eaten raw (it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are bad for your kidneys but are fortunately destroyed by the cooking process).
Shopping List (to feed 4):

  • 50g butter with 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3-4 sticks celery, washed and chunked
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chunked
  • 1kg neck end of pork (or shoulder), cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 400g bags frozen kolokassi, defrosted (or 1kg fresh kolokassi roots, prepared as above)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh, chopped parsley or coriander to garnish

Easy stuff. Melt the butter/oil in a pan, and add the onions, celery and carrot. When they have softened add the pork and seal it well. If you are using fresh kolokassi, add it to the pan at this stage). Then add the spices and tomato puree together with just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and then set to simmer for around 50 minutes, keeping an eye on the liquid level all the while.
Next add the kolokassi, season to taste, and bring back to the boil. Simmer gently for another 40 minutes or until both the meat and the taro is tender.
Serve garnished with a generous sprinkling of the fresh herbs. White rice is the most traditional accompaniment, although pourgourri (hot bulghur wheat) works well too.
It would be rather fun to serve this to your guests without telling them what it is, and then tell them they can only have pudding if they guess what vegetable they are eating. But we are very silly like that. Best ignore us.

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