Taro fries with cilantro pesto

June 10, 2011  •  Category:


This dish is based  on a popular mezze item on the Lebanese table called batata harra or spiced potatoes. In this plate, cubed potatoes are fried and coated in a cilantro, garlic and chile pesto and served lukewarm with quartered lemons.

I figured I would do the same here, except I cooked the taro thoroughly first, then pan-fried it.

Here are some nutritional information on taro:

  • Taro has three times the dietary fiber of potato.
  • Taro root has a low Glycemic Index.
  • It is an  excellent source of potassium.
  • It contains  calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E and B vitamins, as well as magnesium, manganese and copper.



  • 1 pound of taro
  • 1/2 cup of a blend of olive oil and vegetable oil
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Wear kitchen gloves and peel the taro; cut into thick slices shaped like French fries and soak in a bowl of lemony water (squeeze half a lemon into the water).
  2. Prepare the cilantro pesto; wash the cilantro and dry; mince the leaves as fine as possible. Peel and chop the garlic and pound in a mortar with a teaspoon of salt until a paste forms. Set aside.
  3. Bring a pot a salted water to a boil. Drop the taro and simmer for fifteen minutes until soft and thoroughly cooked. Drain.
  4. Heat a large skillet, add the oil blend and when hot, drop the taro “fries” and fry in the oil on all sides until crispy; add the mashed garlic and cilantro and chili pepper flakes (if using) and stir the mixture for 30 seconds until fragrant. Transfer to a serving dish and eat warm with extra lemon quarters if desired.


24 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. meriem says:

    je ne connais pas du tout ce légume racine. Je viens de regarder sur le net à quoi ça ressemble. Dès que j’en rencontre, je ferai sûtrement ta recette. Heureuse d’apprendre des choses et chez toi, je suis souvent servie…Merci Joumana et passe une bonne soirée.

  2. Mercotte says:

    c’est original et surtout typique donc peu commun pour chez nous !!

  3. Belinda @zomppa says:

    You sure did it with the taro! Perfect pesto!

  4. Anna says:

    The only thing I know about taro is 1) bubble tea flavor and 2) taro pies at McDonald’s in China. Yikes! Glad to know savory is an option!! Thanks!!

  5. Krista says:

    I have never cooked with taro and am SO eager to try it now after seeing your recipe. 🙂

  6. Dolly says:

    i love tarooo.. very interesting way to eat it.. i normally eat it in desserts!!

  7. Rosa says:

    That is a very original taro recipe! Lovely.



  8. Jumanah (Healthy Liv says:

    I have never tried to cook with taro…. but these look delicious! I love batata harra so I am sure I would love these!

  9. jimmy says:

    Taro should not be eaten raw for it irritates the throat. And should be avoided by people who has kidney stones , for it contains excessive amounts of calcium oxalate.
    Otherwise it’s pretty tasty.

  10. Nadji says:

    Je ne pense pas connaitre le taro ou en avoir déjà mangé mais j’enregistre.
    A très bientôt

  11. Kalyn says:

    What a creative way to use Taro, great post!

  12. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    What an original take on taro. I am indeed familiar with it as latin american restaurants serve it a lot. I usually make my the cuban way with lots of butter and lemon juice. But this version with cilantro pesto….looks great.

  13. Claudia says:

    The pesto would go well with so many things. I occasionally see taro at the grocers and have never knpown what to with it. Now I do – and I love the dietary info that accompanied the recipe.

  14. pierre says:

    un petit pesto que j’affectionne beaucoup !!Pierre

  15. Lyndsey says:

    After seeing your post on taro root the other day I had to keep it in mind. When I went to Winn-Dixie today, it’s on the north end of town and I stop in to get some calabaza squash when I am in the area. Well when I was there I saw some taro right there next to the yuca, malanga, and boniato roots. When I was in the check out the lady behind me was noticing and mentioned the Latin vegetables that I was buying, she told me of Latin market that has many more veggies I might be interested in. Anyway…so with taro you cook it first like you would yucca, then fry it? I can’t wait to try it. I picked up some cilantro too! Yay!

  16. sonia says:

    Hi There, This is looking Gorgeous. A very well made post with beautiful pictures. Loved the new combo of ingredients and the recipe is so nicely made and presented. Its always fun to see ur appetizing recipes.Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

  17. Amanda says:

    I’ve never cooked with taro and we don’t see them much here in Australia, however I do love potatoes and the cilantro pesto sounds so good I might have to try it.

  18. tigerfish says:

    Taro is used quite often in Chinese cooking – soups and even in fried rice

  19. Devaki says:

    I love the way you always manage to take an ingredient and turn it into something sinful yet healthy at the same time 🙂 DELISH Joumana 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  20. Nuts about food says:

    An interesting take on the original. I personally love the sound of the traditional recipe.

  21. Louise says:

    This looks so intriguing. Why do you suggest using kitchen gloves to peel the taro? I’m looking forward to trying taro at home some time.

  22. Genie Gratto says:

    Hi Joumana,

    I couldn’t find an email address for you on the site, so wanted to leave a comment here. I love this post, and would like to feature it as a spotlight post this week in the What’s Hot column on BlogHer’s Food landing page. That would mean I’d write an intro paragraph explaining why folks should go read the post, and then send them on their way to your blog for the full piece.

    To be able to do that, I’d need your permission to use (with credit to you, of course) one of the photos that ran with the post. Would that be OK with you? Please let me know, and let me know if you have any questions.


  23. Carroll says:

    Triple Like! They look amazing-

  24. Mighty Quinn says:

    This is an excellent recipe. I have made it several times, but recently had a large group of people over and I wanted to make this ahead of time for an appetizer. I made the taro fries separately, cooking them in olive oil and allowing them some time to drain on paper towels. For the pesto, I made a more traditional pesto with pine nuts and parmigiana, except I used cilantro leaves instead of basil. I served this dish on a platter with the cilantro pesto in a bowl in the middle. The fried taro and cilantro pesto “dip” disappeared in minutes. The combination of flavors is fantastic, and the waxy consistency of the taro is very forgiving in the frying process, and remains crispy even when it is prepared ahead of time.


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