It looks a little strange, especially when it jiggles out in the shape of the can. The ingredients list colocassia leaves first, then gram flour (chickpea flour), palm sugar, sugar, chile, salt, corn oil, ginger, coconut, coriander, turmeric, cumin, nigella seeds and asafoetida. With that mix of spices, you can imagine that the orangey spice paste pressed in with the leaves is very flavorful. The leaves themselves taste something like cooked-down kale.
To cook this odd-looking concoction, cut the cylinder into round slices, and brown them on both sides in a pan with a little oil. Then eat them hot. My husband likes to dip them in ketchup.
You can buy patra at any Patel Brothers store (in Jackson Heights or Floral Park, Queens) or at most well-stocked Indian groceries.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 23, 2009