What is this? Kolokasi (Greek) or toro (English) is a root vegetable similar to a parsnip in texture, when cooked, smooth like a sweet potato, tastes similar to potato ....my best description.
Growing up in a Cypriot household in London during the 80s was like growing up in the middle of Cyprus itself.
Ethnic minorities were glued together, like it or not. People of an older generation had no need to learn English to get by as the community was so tight knit. So imagine trying to explain what some foods were, to kids, out of my culture.
Kolokasi or toro is one of the most difficult vegetables to explain but growing up I needed a name to the vegetable that I loved to eat so much. Picture the scene.
Me: ‘Yiayia, what’s kolokasi in English?’
Gran: ‘Ah it’s called bum gas’
Me: ‘Bum gas Yiayia!? Really!?’ Giggling
Gran: ‘Yes Yianna mou, kolo in Greek is bum and kasi in Greek is gas....bum gas’
Me: ‘Oh yeah!’ Giggling
I was around 5 years old, we called it bum gas until the day she sadly passed away in July 2020.
1 or 2 Large Toro approx. 1 / 1.5kg
1 Large Onion
100ml Olive Oil
3 Celery Sticks
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1/2 Vegetable Stock
1 Tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper
1/2 Lemon Juice
Get everything ready first as this will make things easier for you. Dice the onions, chop celery as chunky as you like and prepare the Toro.
To prepare the Toro, peel and wipe with kitchen roll, make sure you do not get this wet as this will cause the vegetable to become slimy. Cut into chunks approximately 2 inches in size. The way to do this is slice the knife 1 inch into the toro, pause, and twist the knife towards you. You will hear a cracking sound, however if this is too tricky you can cut the pieces straight through.
Place the olive oil into a large saucepan on a medium/low heat adding the diced onion. Cook until soft and golden, make sure not to burn this.
Place the toro in with the onions for approximately 10 minutes. You will notice the toro start to brown slightly and with a wooden spoon, occasionally stir. You will notice the toro may begin to stick to the base which is normal, keep stirring occasionally.
Add chopped celery, tin tomatoes, salt and pepper and continue stirring.
Once everything is well combined, add passata and half a dissolved vegetable cube together with enough water to cover the toro. Bring everything to the boil. At this point, add the lemon juice and turn down to a simmer on a low heat closing the lid.
At 45 minutes check that the toro is cooked by using a fork. Some pieces will melt and turn mushy, others will have a more solid consistency, this is how it is! Do not panic. At this point you may add any additional seasoning you feel it may need. If not, close for a further 15 minutes if needed.
Done! Enjoy this dish with warm crusty bread and thick Greek yogurt.
Make sure, when purchasing toro, that you select one that has the whitest tip. This determines the freshness of the vegetable.
Easy way to peel this is to cut off the top and bottom. Place upright on a chopping board and with a sharpe knife, slice downwards revealing the white flesh inside.
I mentioned not to get this wet in the method. DO NOT GET WET it will become slimy.
If you need more oil when cooking the toro due to it sticking to the base too much, you can add more but my measure should be enough as you may find the dish becomes oily.
Costing £10 for 4 persons.