Award-winning chef Robert Oliver shares a recipe from his new show, Marae Kai Masters.

Poulet Fafa(Chicken with Taro Leaves and Coconut)

The green leaves of the taro plant are beloved across the Pacific, where a traditional meal without fafa is unthinkable. It is probably the most popular green vegetable in a region that boasts an abundance of leafy greens. They break down easily while cooking, making a smooth texture, well-suited to soups and stews. It is important to cook fafa well as they contain a small amount of oxalate, which can cause an itchy mouth and throat if the leaves are undercooked. Taro leaves are sold in bunches in many markets but if you can't find them you can use spinach instead ­- the dish will still be delicious.

1 Cook the taro leaves in plenty of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes until they break down.

2 Meanwhile, rinse the chicken breasts in cold water and pat dry. Cut into 3 cm cubes.


3 Remove the taro leaves from the heat. Drain and mash.

4 Heat the oil in a heavy pot and add the ginger, garlic and onion. Cook until lightly browned.

5 Add the cubed chicken and saute, turning as needed, until browned.

6 Add the mashed taro leaves and coconut milk and simmer, stirring, for about 20 minutes, until the mixture is well-combined and creamy.

7 Finally, add the tomatoes and heat through for about three minutes.
8 Serve in a bowl with roasted taro or breadfruit, and sprinkle with lightly toasted coconut if desired.

Serves 6
Marae Kai Masters, Wednesdays at 8.30pm on Maori Television.