Taro stew with quail

Taro stew with quail

Cairo Kitchen
Jonathan Gregson

Taro, or colcassia, is a root-like vegetable that spread from Southeast Asia to Egypt and is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. When cooked, it has the texture of well-done potatoes. In Egypt we use the taro corns, peeled and cut into cubes. The most popular use for them is cooked in a broth with coriander and Swiss chard. The end result is a stew-like dish with a sticky, tangy green sauce. In Egypt, this dish is often cooked with wild ducks (mallard, teal or widgeons) and you can use them here instead of the quails if you prefer.


Quantity Ingredient
2 taro
2 large onions, grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
8 quails
1 piece mastic
3 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 fresh hot chilli, sliced, (optional)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
vegetable oil, for frying
400g swiss chard, trimmed and sliced into 1 cm strips
500g short-grain rice
freshly ground black pepper


  1. To prepare the taro, peel and cut into cubes. Soak overnight in water to remove the sticky texture, then rinse repeatedly under cold running water.
  2. Place the grated onion in a small bowl. Season with salt, pepper and cumin and mix well. Stuff the inside of the quails with the onion mixture, reserving a tablespoon, and close the opening with a toothpick.
  3. In a large pot, bring about 3 litres water to the boil (you need enough to use the broth for the rice and the taro). Add the mastic, cardamoms, bay leaves and the reserved tablespoon of the seasoned onions.
  4. Boil the quails in the water until thoroughly cooked. The time depends on the size of the quails. For the smallest quails, this will take 15 to 30 minutes. For small wild ducks, this will take 1 to 1½ hours. Once the quails are tender, remove from the broth and set aside.
  5. Strain the remaining broth into a large clean pot and add the hot chilli, if using. Bring half the broth to the boil again and cook the taro for 1 hour or until tender.
  6. In a separate saucepan, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons oil until golden, then add the chard and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes until wilted and tender. Spoon the sautéed chard into a processor and blend until smooth. Add the chard to the taro and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Wash the rice under cold running water, then soak in fresh water for half an hour. Into a medium-sized pot, add 125 ml of the oil, the drained rice and salt and stir for 5 minutes over a high heat. Add 1 litre of the remaining quail broth, stir and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes over a low heat until the rice is tender and has absorbed the broth.
  8. Right before serving, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and sauté the quails in batches until evenly browned and the skin is crisp. Serve the taro stew with the quails and the rice cooked in the quail broth.
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