August 26, 2013

These delicious Orache Paatra rolls combine Southern Indian spices with a common UK weed.

“This mildly spiced, tangy, sweet dish can be served as a side dish or as part of a Gujarati style thali”
“This mildly spiced, tangy dish can be served as a side dish or as part of a Gujarati style thali”
Taste the Wild have reinvented Paatra rolls using local wild Orache. In India these rolls are made with Colocasia leaves but here in England we have found a local alternative.

There is lots of tasty Spear Leaved Orache growing near us at the moment, the leaves are not as large as Colocasia leaves but with a little ingenuity we have created a dish that tastes and looks great on the plate.

Paatra in Gujarati means ‘leaves’ we have used Spear Leaved Orache leaves but as always – Be Sure of your identification, there are poisonous plants out there! If you are not sure you could substitute spinach leaves and the recipe would still work.

Spear- Leaved Orache  Atriplex prostrata

IMG_0217An annual plant that is often found in field edges or on roadsides. It is salt tolerant so can grow where road salt has been scattered or can often be found at the coast. It likes bare ground so recently turned over field edges or even places where machines have been moving soil are good places to look.

It has soft light green leaves that have a slight greyishness to them. The texture is like soft leather, the leaf shape is basically triangular but can be variable. Large leaves are shaped like a spear head. Sometimes the two bottom corners of a leaf turn upwards, sticking out like spurs. The flowers are like tiny balls arranged along the tips of stalks coming out of the main stem. They vary in colour from greenish white to pinky red. The plant can grow to 70cm in July-September when it’s flowering. After this the seeds ripen and the plant dies with the first frosts.

Orache Paatra rolls – makes approx 20 slices, serves 4 – 6

  • 100g large Orache leaves – cleaned
  • 2 red onions – chopped finely
  • Oil for frying
  • 2cm fresh root ginger – grated finely
  • 1 red chilli – chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic – chopped finely
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground asafoetida
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 20g sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250g gram flour
  • 250ml water (approx)
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

You will also need a stick blender, cling film, a steamer and a very sharp knife.

Gently fry the onions, ginger, chilli and garlic in 2 tbsps of oil for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the turmeric, asafoetida, coriander and chilli powder and cook for another 2 minutes stirring. Put the mixture in to a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste) and the gram flour. Add the water a little at a time and blend to a soft paste.

orache leaves on clingOnce this is done set to one side and lay out a piece of cling film about 80cm long. Starting at one end of the cling film, and leaving at least 10cm around the edges, lay half the orache leaves (rib side up) in to a rectangular shape 20cm x 60cm. Overlap the edges of the leaves as shown in the picture. Carefully spread half the filling mixture over the leaves.rolling paatra Fold over the leaves at the very end of the rectangle (this will form the centre of the roll), now using the cling film lift the end, turn it over and roll up the roll as tightly as you can. Seal the edges by twisting the cling film if necessary cover the roll with another layer of cling film to completely seal it. Make a second roll with the other half of the ingredients. Steam the Paatra rolls for 20 minutes then leave to cool and chill until ready to use.

paatra roll after steaming

Slice the rolls (through the cling film) into 13mm slices and carefully remove the cling film. In a large frying pan fry 1 tsp mustard seeds over a medium heat for 2 minutes, add 2 tsps sesame seeds and cook for a further minute. Now add half of the paatra rolls and cook for 2 minutes, turning half way through. Set aside and keep warm whilst you cook the other rolls.

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with mint raita and salad.

This unusual dish takes a while to prepare but it is well worth the time and effort. It is great to prepare the day before, ready to slice and fry at the last minute.

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