Patra bhajia (spicy steamed colocasia or arbi leaves) in Instant Pot

Patra bhajias are made using Colocasia or arbi leaves which are layered with a sweet and sour spicy batter.  You could use spinach leaves but the texture will be different as spinach leaves are a lot softer.  The recipe may look time consuming to make but they are well worth the effort.

You can also get ready made tins of the cooked patras which are handy for a quick snack.


  • 20  patra leaves , (colocasia leaves) – available from most Indian

For the batter:

  •  ½ cup tamarind paste (this can be bought from the Asian stores)
  • 4 cups of chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • Pinch of soda bi carbonate
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 inch fresh Ginger
  • 7-8 cloves of Garlic
  • 2-3 small fresh green chillies

For tempering:

  • 2 tbls of oil
  • 3 tsp sesame seeds


For getting best results Colocasia leaves need to be fresh. However, it’s very difficult to get them fresh in UK so we need to work with what we have.  Some people can get irritation like itchy skin on their after handling these leaves so you may wish to use gloves. 

1. Turn the leaves over and check the veins on the leaf. Using a sharp knife (we used to use a razor in East Africa), remove the stems and the thick fibrous veins. Using a rolling pin go over all the veins and flatten them. It is believed that if these veins are removed it can cause throat or tongue irritation if not cooked properly. Once you have done this soak the leaves in plenty of cold water for 10-15 minutes. Remove them from the water onto a colander and let the water drain from the leaves. Using a clean tea towel or kitchen paper, wipe and dry the leaves. Cover these leaves in a clean dish cloth and set aside whilst you prepare the paste which needs to be layered on the leaves.

2. Blend the ginger and garlic ( I used a grater for the ginger and a garlic press for garlic) and chopped the green chilies into small pieces.I had some fresh green garlic which I also added to the mixture.

3. Soak the tamarind paste in 2 cups of water in a jug.  Tamarind is an essential ingredient for using with these leaves as it is believed that it stops one from getting the throat irritation.  I do not have any medical proof of this but this is what our mums used to tell us and it seems to work.

4. In a mixing bowl, add the chick pea flour, the salt, chili powder, turmeric, asafoetida, soda bicarbonate and the ginger, garlic and green chilies paste. Now use the tamarind water to mix all the ingredients to form a thick spreadable paste.

5. Prepare the steamer or pressure cooker to steam the pasted patra leaves. I cooked mine in the Instant Pot but you can use any steamer or pressure cooker. Grease the base where you are going to keep the pasted and rolled patras.

6. Place one Colacasia leaf face down – with the vein side up, on a work top and spread a layer of the paste over the back of the leaf. Place a second leaf over the first leaf – again with the vein side up, and spread the paste over it. Do the same with two more leaves. Now fold in the edges of the leaf and roll the leaves tightly and seal the edges with some paste. Once done, transfer them to the grease dish which is going to be kept in the steamer or pressure cooker. Paste all the leaves in the same way until all are used up. Stack them in the steamer or Instant Pot. Lightly oil the patras so they don’t stick to each other. Now cook them for at least 30 minutes if using a steamer.  I cooked mine for 20 minutes in the IP.

7. Once The IP cools down and pressure is released, remove the rolls of patra and allow them to cool before slicing them in circles.

For tempering

8 . Add 2 tbls oil to a non stick wok or something similar. Once the oil gets hot, add the sesame seeds and as soon as they stop popping, add the sliced patra to the oil. Allow these to heat and lightly brown. Stir them gently to stop them breaking

9. Serve these patra bhajias hot with some chutney and a cup of tea.

Patra bhajias can be deep fried too and they turn out lovely and crispy. You can eat patra with Hot Tomato Chutney.  How do you like your patra bhajias?

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