Tag Archive for: Rhubarb Triangle

The Rhubarb Triangle is calling. As images of the first vibrant pink shoots of the season filter onto social media I get the urge to head 30 miles east east to the forcing sheds of West Yorkshire. More specifically to the acclaimed early rhubarb fiefdom of one Robert Tomlinson. His Pudsey farm is arguably an outlier of the Triangle, which purists confine to a nine square mile area bounded by Morley, Rothwell and Wakefield, but chefs and foodies flock to order from ‘Rhubarb Robert’. The product is that good.

Alas, my M62 trek is in vain. Early days for the harvesting by candlelight that is de rigueur in the sheds and the few bundles emerging have been snapped up in the farm shop before my arrival. “Next week we’ll have lots, luv.” The season lasts until March.

I console myself five minutes up the road with a visit to the Fulneck Moravian Settlement. This is a planned village built in 1743 by Protestant Brethren from Bohemia whose denomination pre-dated the Reformation by 60 years and later influenced John Wesley. I followed the ‘Meditation Walk’ around the buildings of the still active community and pondered the ghosts of its past – actress Dame Diana Rigg, who boarded at (and hated) Fulneck School and, from the village, Sir Leonard Hutton (364 not out still the highest Test innings by an England cricketer).

A legend in a different sphere is Kaushy Patel, whose family restaurant Prashad, serving Gujarati vegetarian food in unglamorous Drighlington, is handily placed on my homeward journey back down the A58. This converted pub, now with    son Bobby and his wife Minal at the helm, holds two AA stars, a Michelin Bib Gourmand, came second in the 2010 Channel 4 cook-off for Ramsay’s Best Restaurant and was more recently visited by Gordon’s fellow telly perennials, The Hairy Bikers.

A dish chef Minal served up to Ramsay in the semi-final remains on the menu. It transferred with the restaurant in 2012 when it moved from Bradford and showcases a green vegetable you won’t find in common or garden Indian restaurants.

Step forward the colocasia plant, also known as elephant-ear leaves, taro or cocoyam. As a tuber it is edible but the leaves are the favourite in the Patels’ native Gujarat state in India. It was from there that Kaushy moved with husband Mohan in the Sixties, setting up a deli that later became a hugely popular eaterie. 

In her debut cookbook, Prashad: Indian Vegetarian Cooking (Salt Yard, £25) Kaushy offers genuinely authentic recipes. I’ve used it a lot, but never been able to source the colocasia to make the two Patra dishes featured. Apparently you can buy it online and Indian-born US scientist/cook Nik Sharma, in his wonderful new book Veg-Table (Chronicle, £26), substitutes collard greens. Chard might do. Colocasia’s green arrowhead shaped leaves can grow up to 150cm long (above left), but the smaller leaves (10cmx15cm) are what you need for cooking, Steaming an stuffing is the way to go.

And they are good for you – containing dietary fibre, potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, magnesium, and folate. So how could I resist ordering a warm starter of Bafela Patra (£9.20)? So as not to scare off the uninitiated, it is described on the menu as ‘star anise and jaggery pasted chard parcels’. It arrived on a flourish of beetroot pure and topped with coconut shards, yet it looks not immediately appealing, like a portioned out olive green stick of rock. Yet it turns out to be utterly delicious, with a deep earthiness… and substantial. (see the recipe below from the excellent Prashad website).

For my main I’ve greedily ordered the Maharani Thali, giving this solo diner a rundown of a range of dishes on the one platter. At £27.50, with rice, rotis and raita all part of the package, it could easily be a sharer. Stand out components? Choli (chick peas with cinnamon and star anise), paneer masala with fenugreek and onion/tomato base, chatta palkya (cinnamon and bay leaf infused spinach and mushrooms) and a gloriously creamy shrikand for pud. All washed down with a Kernel Porter from a beer list curated by Bobby’s brother Mayur, who co-owns Bundobust.

There is Cobra on tap for curry house traditionalists. They probably wouldn’t be the prime audience for the in-depth discussion of the Patra tradition in Sheetal and Rinkal’s Gujarati food blog Route2roots. It acknowledges that colocasia is a staple across the sub-continent but achieves its apogee in the Patra dishes of the Anavil Bhramins in one corner of Gujarat. 

All very eclectic. Suffice it to say colocasia grows abundantly in warm swampy areas across India, whereas rhubarb originates from the colder corners of Siberia. Both find a home in the kitchens of Prashad. Worth a trip back soon for a forced rhubarb lassi or pickle. Did I mention no-one does chutneys and pickles better than the Patels. I can still taste the basil and green tomato one one with my pappadom nibbles.

Bafela Patra recipe (from the Prashad website)


To create the masala, you will need:

8 medium colocasia leaves

2-4 fresh green chillies (trimmed but not de-seeded)

2-4 cloves of garlic

3cm piece of root ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)

1 pinch of salt

To create the paste, you will need:

50g dried tamarind (from a block)

150ml boiling water

200g chickpea flour

50 chapatti flour

50g rice flour

1½tsp salt

40g jaggery, finely chopped (or soft brown sugar))

1½tsp carom seeds

1½tsp turmeric

2-4tsp ground coriander

1tbsp garam masala

5tsp sesame seeds (4tsp will be used as garnish)

60ml sunflower oil

200ml warm water


Wash your patra leaves and place them vein-side up on a chopping board. Using a small knife, carefully slice off the thick central vein.

Crush your chillies, garlic and ginger together with a pinch of salt with a pestle and mortar (or in a blender) to make a fine masala paste.

Soak the dried tamarind in boiling water for five minutes, then pulp with your fingers and a sieve, draining the tamarind water into a small bowl. Squeeze the pulp to get as much flavour as possible!

Sieve your flours together and mix in your masala paste, salt, jaggery, carom seeds, spices, one teaspoon of sesame seeds and your oil. Mix well to make sure all the masala is worked in.

Pour your tamarind water and warm water into the mixture and mix to form a sticky but workable paste, before leaving the mixture to rest for 10 minutes.

Take one of your larger patra leaves and place it vein-side facing up on a chopping board or your work surface, leaf tip furthest from you. Gently spread the leaf with enough paste to cover with a 5mm layer.

Take a second leaf and lay it on top of the first, again vein-side up. Spread the surface of the new leaf with paste.

Carefully lift the sides of the leaf stack and fold about 4cm in towards the centre, keeping the sides straight.

Spread a layer of paste over the leaf sections that you have just folded in (the new top surface). Then gently lift the closest end of the Patra leaf and fold about 4cm onto itself, then fold again and continue to fold away from you until you reach the tip.

Repeat the pasting, layering, folding and rolling three more times to use up the remaining six leaves, giving you four patra rolls.

To cook, put a flat-based heatproof bowl in a large, deep pan. Pour water into the pan until it reaches most of the way up the bowl, leaving about 2cm of the rim sticking about the water. Place your pan over a high heat.

Lightly oil a medium plate with a 2cm rim or lip that will fit in the pan (the rim will give you something to grip when you remove it from the steamer and help to prevent the patra falling into the water).

Put the four rolls, with the seam of the rolls facing down, on the oiled plate and gently place it on top of the bowl in the pan. Put the lid on the pan, wrap the rim of the lid with a cloth or tea towel (if it is a flat lid) and put weight on the lid to secure it.

Reduce the heat to medium and then leave to steam for 35 minutes, turning the rolls after 15 minutes. To check they are fully cooked, insert a sharp knife into the middle of a roll. The knife should come out clean.

Carefully remove the plate from the steamer and leave to cool for five minutes. Put the patra on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to slice each one into four even slices.

Prashad, 137 Whitehall Road, Drighlington, Bradford BD11 1AT. 0113  285 2037.