Aluchi wadi (Alu wadi / Arabi leaf cutlets / patra)

Aluchi wadi is a Maharashtrian delicacy. Alu or colacasia leaves are also called taro leaves. The leaves are coated with spiced besan/gram flour and steamed. Instead of alu you can use any large leafy green. I have tried this recipe with collard greens with great success. 

A similar preparation is made with cabbage to make kobi wadi or cilantro to make kothimbir wadi. Here the vegetables are shredded before use. My mother used to. Make all three varieties and I remember helping her as a child. She always used the black stalk alu, I have tried both the green and black stalk and both have worked well for me.

You will get about 8 wadis with two leaves. I used four leaves.

You will need
4 alu leaves

For the besan batter 
1 cup besan / gram flour
1 tbsp. rice flour (optional)
2 tbsp. tamarind extract or pulp (see below)
2 tbsp. sugar (optional)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. powdered roasted coriander and cumin seeds
salt to taste 

For the final step
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. asafoetida
1 tbsp. olive oil (optional)

To make the tamarind pulp. Soak a marble sized ball of tamarind in 4 tablespoons of hot water for about 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind to extract the pulp. Discard the tough fibers and use the thick pulp. Alternatively you can use readymade extract.

Make the besan batter first. Whisk all the ingredients for the batter in a bowl with 1/4 cup of water.

Continue adding water, a little at a time, and whisking until you have a thick batter. This not pouring consistency, you should be able to spread the batter on the leaves. Taste the batter and adjust seasoning. The batter flavors the dish. Keep aside.

Now prep the leaves. Wash them clean and dry them using a cloth. Be careful not to tear them.

Spread one leaf on a flat work surface with stalk side up. Trim the stalk. Coat completely with the prepared basan paste. This can get messy.

Now place a second leaf stalk side down over the first. Coat it with the paste. Have fun getting your fingers dirty.

Starting from the side of the stalk roll the leaves into a tight roll. The stalk may not bend and may have to be snapped while rolling.

Apply paste as you roll. Continue rolling till the end. I cut the rolls in half to fit into my steamer. I used a pressure cooker. I allowed the pressure to build, turned off the heat and allowed the pressure to go down. You can use any steamer you want. Grease the bottom to prevent sticking. Steam until the batter is fully cooked.

Transfer the rolls to a cutting board. They should be quite firm now. Cut them to the desired size.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they crackle add turmeric powder and asafoetida. Put all the cooked and cut alu wadis into the pan.

The no oil alternative- keep a cup of water handy. Add mustard seeds to a hot dry pan. When they crackle turn down heat all the way and add asafoetida and turmeric powder. Immediately add water to cover the bottom of the pan. This prevents the turmeric from burning. The water will bubble up and most of it will evaporate. Add the cut alu wadis. 

Saute until they turn brownish in color and the tops are crisp. Serve hot.

No oil alternative: Cook on low heat first on one side and then the other. Without oil they will not be crisp or brown. But they will taste just as good.