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Authentic Kerala Cuisine & much more…

Koorkka Olathiyathu/Chinese Potato Stir Fry

Posted by Annita on September 8, 2008

Koorkka or Chinese Potato is yet another favorite of most Keralites.I don’t think it is popular outside Kerala.It is almost similar to potato but very much smaller in size and much better taste.The cleaning is a tedius process ,it is time consuming and can stain the hands,too. Malayalee’s  love for this tiny tubers is well taken by Sathyan Anthikkad in his movie ‘Achuvinte Amma’.I still remember the heroine(Meera Jasmine) asking her mother (Urvashi) : “Ammakku aarenkilum koorkkayil kaivisham thannittundo?Eppol nokkiyalum oru koorkka….(Why its always koorkka here?…..Did someone give you a voodoo in koorkka?)

Read more about Koorkka here.Koorkka can be prepared in various ways,out of which my favorite is this simple stir fry.

Recipe follows:

Ingredients :-

Chinese Potato(Koorkka) cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces – 2 cups
Shallots -5 big
Red Chilly Flakes – 1 tsp or Red chillies broken – 4 or 5
Garlic – 1 big clove
Curry leaves – 1/2 sprig
Green chillies slit – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coconut pieces(Thengakothu) – 1/4 cup
Salt- to taste
Oil – as needed


After washing properly,scrape the skin of each koorkka and immediately immerse it in water to prevent them from changing into a dark brown color.Wash them again and cut them into bite size pieces and put them back into the water.Drain the water and immediately add the koorkka into the cooking pan (or pressure cooker) along with salt,turmeric powder and green chillies.Add around 1/4 cup of water ,cover it and cook until it is well done.You can add more water as and when needed.If using a pressure cooker cook it till one whistle.Drain any left over water and keep the koorkka aside.

Crush the shallots,red chillies and garlic together using a mortar and pestle or chop them finely.Keep them aside.

Now heat oil in a pan,add the crushed ingredients,curry leaves and coconut pieces.Fry them for a while and add cooked koorkka into it.Stir fry it for 10 mts in a medium heat or until it turns dry and slightly brown.Serve hot with rice.

31 Responses to “Koorkka Olathiyathu/Chinese Potato Stir Fry”

  1. nags said

    i love koorka too! didnt know they were called chinese potatoes. in that case they should be available in Singapore, right?

    Nags,Read this from Inji Manga..
    It says it has nothing to do with China…its just the name..:))

  2. Binerry said

    I love Koorka…. I think it is every Keralites favorite….

    Yeah…most of the mallus love Koorkka…And welcome to my blog,binerry

  3. Jyothsna said

    Thanks for the recipe. I completely disliked all these tubers fr their appearance but I’m a convert now!

    That is good,Jyotsna..I’m a great fan of Koorkka now…
    But kazhikkan aagraham thonni thudangiyappol kittanum illa…:))

  4. Never heard of chinese potatoes. Something new and looks gr8.

    It really tastes great..Try it out sometimes if you can find it,Lubna

  5. Havent heard of these..yet easy recipe..

    Yep…recipe is simple…Only the cleaning part is difficult…
    but as we gets here cleaned,that also doesn’t matter..

  6. Aparna said

    This is an all time favourite in my house too, but I don’t really like it. Most un-mallu like, huh?:)

    yeah..Aparna…but thats ok…there are mallus who dont like kappa,rt?

  7. Bindu said

    Oh I like the dilaogue you wrote from this movie…I havent seen it, but I found that very funny:-) And this recipe looks amazing Annita. I will check the frozen section of a grocery store that is run by Mallus here! Is the brand vayanad foods? Cant make out. I think I saw the chinese potatoes in its original form at some grocery store here. I am def going to hunt for it. Thanks so much for posting this recipe dear. Just the mention of it brings back fond memories of my ammomma’s cooking.

    I dont remember the brand name,Bindu…very sorry..:((
    hey,watch that movie when you get time…its really a gud one..

  8. Koorkka is something we can consider as a “country” vegetable right? When it is in season, they cost a lot more. But I never pass up the opportunity to buy these Chinese potatoes whenever I see them. Nowadays, I miss bread-fruit not the chinese potatoes!

    Yeah…u r correct Rajalekshmy…I’m also searching for Chinese Potato in Pittsburgh now,couldn’t find it anywhere..:((

  9. Jayashree said

    Koorka is a favourite with me too. I make a stir fry with no add-ons….just koorka, turmeric powder and salt.

    would love to try out that way too,Jayasree…
    Thanks a bunch..

  10. pinki said

    Where we can find this vegettable named koorkka(in kerala) in USA.

    You can try in Indian grocery stores’ frozen section..

  11. US Cook in Kerala said

    Can anyone tell me what a “whistle” is on a pressure cooker. I’ve come across that timing a few times and, although I have a pressure cooker purchased in Kerala, nothing tells me how long a “whistle” is! Thanks.

    Whistle means the ‘sound it produces when pressure releases through pressure regulator’.
    You can learn more about pressure cooking here-

  12. priya santhosh said

    u r right .whenever i see koorkka i also remember the dialogues quoted above.anitha u tooooooooooo r famous among mallus.a v v helpful site 4 beginners.hats off 2 u.anitha
    satyam parayatte ee site nokkiyal tanne vayar nirayum.


    Thank you..Thank you…Thank you…:)))
    Hope u had a great Onam..!!!

  13. Divya said

    hi there…first time on ur blog.good work!!
    koorka looks yum!! wish i cud eat them rite away…

  14. Nitha said

    I frequently visit your blog….i appreciate all your effort…good are wonderful.thanks for sharing the recipes

  15. srilekha said

    first time to ur site! u have a very nice cooking blog here!

    visit my blog while u find time! join in the chicken event going in my blog!

    add us as a follower of my blog to have my recipes in ur dashboard itself!

  16. Anna said


    you turend me nostalgic and home sick… i love koorkka…I didnt know it is called chineese potato,so it should be available in frozen section i guess… I still remember making my amma to make this everyday when it is the koorkka season and she used to complain how tough it is to clean it… this post brings back all those lovely childhood memories…

    Thanks a lot for sharing this

  17. dear anitta,
    nice to read your recipes. your blog is a ready reference for us. thank you so much. can i get the recipe for ‘vathal kulambu’ -a tamil traditional curry.

    I’ll try to post a vathal kulambu recipe as soon as possible.

  18. Venu said

    Hi Anita,
    Great collection! good work
    I love any one who loves koorkka. For those of you who find it difficult to clean it up..

    Make a small piece of gunny cloth(chakku thuni). Put the raw koorkka in it and make small bundle of it. Hold on to the bundle and beat it on the kitchen platform after sprinking some water on it. Do this for about 5 mins(depending up on the quantity and physique of the person doing it. Clue… think of your mother-in-law while doing it). Open the gunny bag an wash the stuff. You are done.


    Thank you for yourtip,venu…I really appreciate the effort you’ve put in describing this process here..Thanks again

  19. vineetha nandakumar said


    You can just give it a try…I haven’t cooked any curries in oven…So i’m not sure.but i think it should work..sorry abt it..

  20. Soumya said

    I use to visit ur blog regularly.Also,i have tried many of ur recipies already..Ur recipies are really helpful wid perfect description !!!I love Chinese Potato..And i tried ur recipe..It came out really well!!!!Hats offff to u Anita!!!!!!!u r a gr8 Cook!!!!!!!

    Thanks Soumya

  21. Poornima said


    Thanks for the recipe…

    from where did u buy chinese potato?


  22. Pratibha said

    Koorka theeyal is also very tasty – it is made the same way as we potato theeyal with garam masala…goes with rice as well as chappatis, kerala porotta…yummy stuff…I also make koorka thoran…same way koorka olathiyathu is made, except that I don’t fry the shallots too brown and add grated coconut to that…I often make it when I have guests and they just love it.

    For those who are worried about cleaning Koorka – the easy way is to put them in a small gunny bag, twist the neck of the bag and beat them lightly on the floor. do it for sometime (check often) and the skin will peal off the koorka…take them out, wash them properly and cut them to pcs (cut them and put them in a bowl of water or else it will turn brown).

  23. sam said

    Koorka is actually Sudanese Potato… and not Chinese Potato… I have no clue how that was arrived at.

    Technically, they are called Plectranthus rotundifolius or Coleus parviflorus

    Genus: Plectranthus
    Order: Lamiales
    Family: Lamiaceae

    COMMON NAMES Sudan potato, Madagascar potato, Hausa potato, Koorkan kizhangu, Kentang dwaja, Ratala, Country-potato etc.
    Vernacular names include kembili, sambrali (in Kannada), Koorka (Kerala & Sri Lanka), ratala, Hausa potato, frafra potato, Coleus potato, Zulu potato, and Zulu round potato.

    A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

  24. Sowmya said

    Hi all,

    Any idea where do you get koorka in UK????? My mom makes it just with turmeric, pepper powder and salt…

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  29. Outstanding post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?

    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little
    bit more. Bless you!

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