For us Assamese people, Colocasia or kosu xaak or kosuthuri is not just about some delectable side dishes served with our main course, but it is a ubiquitous entity that can also be described to reflect the community essence.
This highly nutritious plant that captured the imagination of our ancestors and curved its way to our reservoir of folklore, beliefs and traditional knowledge, always ends up scrumptious no matter how it is cooked. Rich in iron and folate acid, and packed with the goodness of an immunity booster, Colocasia has been traditionally served in myriad styles—steamed, stir fried, mashed, curry, fritters, tangy and spicy. Even the items that go with the Colocasia preparations are endless—fish, chicken, lentils, dry fish, fish head, cherry tomatoes, jackfruit seeds, fermented bamboo shoots etc., etc.
It has always been my favourite and is intimately linked to my childhood memories. Our days were so different and our childhood anecdotes are not only fun-filled, but are also lessons imbibed on the curative aspect of Nature. Whenever we got hurt while playing, we would immediately pick a particular variety of Colocasia known as Kolakosu in Assam, and apply the gum oozing out of the stems to stop the bleeding from our cuts and bruises. Colocasia was no less than a saviour to us as we would often hide our wounds from our parents. Now, when my kids listen to these stories of how we treated our wounds, they stare at me with disbelief. Today’s generation of kids can never imagine the life that we led decades back.
The rainy season would transform my late father’s backyard into a carpet of Colocasia, the growth was so dense. My mother prepared different dishes using various parts of the plant. In the month of December, we would always dig up the dying Colocasia plants to harvest taro. While eating certain taro, we would get itchiness in our throat or mouth, but that was always overlooked because of the taste. We grew up eating wild leafy greens and vegetables and never were sick.
I would like to stress that any style of cooking Colocasia will have the trademark of nostalgia, love and caring. Because whenever we rustle up a Colocasia dish, we leave the imprint of our community and our memories. Below are some recipes of Colocasia that are very close to my heart as these dishes were prepared on different occasions for me– including that time when I had just given birth, by people who were dear to me and are no more. I would also like to urge you all to cook these dishes following the dictates of your heart.