Every culture has their own comfort foods. For Fijians, this Roro recipe is warm and hearty and embodies the wonderful flavors of the island using creamy coconut milk and greens.
And although this Roro recipe looks exotic, it really couldn’t be easier. Here’s why you need to make Roro today:
It’s low-carb/keto, paleo, vegan, and gluten free!
It comes together in 20 minutes.
There are only 6 ingredients.
It’s a one pot meal.
You’ll love it.
To be clear, roro actually means taro leaves; the traditional way of cooking it with coconut milk, onions, and salt, is what Indians (who were brought to the islands almost 150 years ago) have adopted and now simply call the dish itself. So technically the title of this post should be “Fijian Spinach recipe,” but this post is more about the method than the ingredient.
The only problem with a traditional Roro recipe is that the required taro leaves (dalo ke bhaji in Hindi) are harder to find here in the states, and even harder to grow. That’s why growing up my mom would prepare this traditional Fijian dish with a little cheat: frozen chopped spinach in place of taro leaves.
Of course, there are myriad ways of cooking this simple 6 ingredient dish, such as starting with a tadka (tampering in oil) of the onions, garlic, and chili – but I find this method adopted from Indian cooking too harsh, making the dish slightly bitter. Traditional Fijian cooking, before the arrival of the British or the Indians, consisted mostly of roasting in an earthen oven (aka a lovo, or underground oven) or boiling and steaming. This boiled method is the most authentic and flavorful way to make Roro, in my opinion.
And then there are the sides. Roro is delicious all on its own, but Indian households treat this dish as we would a curry and we often serve it with chapatis/roti flatbread or rice. Traditional Fijian households will almost always serve it with boiled/steamed dalo (taro root), and sometimes will serve it with boiled cassera (cassava, tapioca root, or yuca). I prefer a nicely boiled cassava, myself (you can find it at pre-peeled and cut in the frozen aisle in most Asian grocery stores).
Now that I am married, and running a household of my own, I make this Roro recipe when I’m craving something warm and comforting. Not to mention, this Roro recipe is an amazing one pot meal with only 6 ingredients, so we nosh on Roro more often than we should.
So weather or not you can hear the drums of the island in your heart, there’s no reason not to give this rich and flavorful dish a try. What are you waiting for? Go go, make Roro – be on island time tonight!
- 10 oz (280 g) frozen chopped spinach
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup (30 g) onions, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic paste, or 4 small cloves chopped
- ½ lime, to taste
- 2-3 thai chilis, or to taste
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- *optional frozen cassava or taro for serving
- Remove the frozen chopped spinach out of the wrapper, and place on a microwave safe plate and heat for 1½ minutes on high in your microwave oven, until it has mostly thawed.
- In a medium sauce pan, bring one cup of water to a boil; add in the chopped onion, garlic paste, chilis, and salt and simmer with the lid closed until tender (about 4 minutes).
- Add the spinach to the pot, adding more water if needed (it should be just covering the spinach). Let the spinach cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, until everything is tender.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the entire can of coconut milk and stir. Let this boil for an additional 4-5 minutes, until the milk thickens and absorbs all of the flavor.
- Add an additional cup of water at this stage, to prevent the coconut milk from burning; boil until you reach a desired consistency (similar to a Thai curry).
- Season with the juice of half a lime, adding more lime and salt per your taste.
- If serving with cassava or taro, thaw the frozen rootcrop properly before boiling (countertop or microwave), otherwise find fresh rootcrop at your local ethnic grocer. Bring a quart of water to a boil and cook the cassava or taro the same way you would a potato, by boiling until tender in the center when poked with a fork or a knife; strain and let rest before serving.
The flavors will continue to marinate and develop overnight, and this stew can keep for a week if refrigerated.
This dish can be eaten on its own, but can also be served with rice or flatbread.