Koorka Ularthu


This recipe for koorka ularthu has been developed by Clary Louis, who runs her own bakery in Pala, Kerala. Koorka is a type of tuber, formally known as Chinese potato. 


During her time in Kuwait, Clary would often struggle to find many of the ingredients integral to dishes from her home state, Kerala. Whenever she found koorkas, then, in Indian grocery stores close to her home in Kuwait, she would be overjoyed. Although koorkas can be difficult to cook with — they are usually muddy, difficult to clean, and tedious to peel — they always reminded Clary and her family of their home, and were an opportunity for them to reminisce through familiar flavours. 


Koorka ularthu is a traditional tuber stir fry typically made with coconut oil and curry leaves. Although widely eaten across Kerala, it is a favourite of the Syrian Christian community. Its unique dense texture often makes a great addition to beef and pork dishes, although a simple stir fry with koorka as the star ingredient pairs well with steamed rice.

Koorka/Chinese potato ½ kg
Coconut oil 2 to 3 tablespoons
Garlic, crushed 6 cloves
Small shallots, roughly chopped 6-8
Turmeric powder ¼ teaspoon
Black Pepper powder ¼ teaspoon
Dried red chillies 2 to 3
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Salt To taste
Coconut slices, fried (optional)

A saucepan, and a wok.


Start by washing the koorka thoroughly and soak them in water for about 30 minutes. This will help us in the peeling process.


Peel the skin and slice the koorka thinly so that they are roughly quarter inch in width.


Place the sliced koorka in a saucepan and fill it with room temperature water and season with salt. Then, boil the koorka until it is tender. Be careful that the koorka does not overcook and turn mushy.


In a wok or a kadhai, heat some coconut oil.


After a minute or after the oil is hot, add the curry leaves and let them splutter. Then, immediately add the red chillies, followed by the crushed garlic and chopped shallots.


Sauté the contents of the wok well and then add the pepper powder and turmeric powder. Mix well.


Add the cooked koorka pieces to the wok and toss the pieces until they are completely coated with the mixture in the pan.


Let the stir fry cook until the koorka pieces become crispy. Garnish with the fried coconut pieces.


Serve with some hot steamed rice and sambar or rasam.


If the koorka pieces begin to stick to the bottom of the wok during the cooking process, you can add a little more coconut oil to keep them from burning.

This recipe is by Clary Louis from Pala, Kerala. Clary runs her own baking business in Pala (@clarybakes) and cooks traditional Kerala recipes from her Syrian Christian family. 


She also develops recipes for preserves and syrups for the Kuruvinakunnel Tharavadu Farms in Pala, Kerala. 


This recipe was curated as a part of the Roots to Resilience project developed by Edible Issues with the Serendipity Arts Foundation. “Roots to Resilience” is a collaborative exploration of tuber crops—a testament to their resilience, untold stories, and the vibrant communities that nurture them. This project transcends the conventional boundaries of agriculture and art, seeking to unearth the connections between people and these underground wonders.

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