Senaikizhangu Roast (Elephant Yam Curry)

Elephant yam is plentifully available throughout India. But I suspect that it is not a very popular vegetable in most parts of the country – at least to serve guests. Probably because it may cause itching (in raw form, not when cooked) for some people. I have lived in North India for almost 37 years and am yet to find it at the dinner table in any of the homes that I visit. I cannot imagine certain South Indian dishes without this vegetable – raw banana fry, aruchu kalaki and so on. It features in my list of vegetables for my weekly shopping. While there are certain dishes that I routinely make, this time I decided to try out something different – yet traditional.

Elephant Yam Roast

1/2 cup elephant yam cut into either small cubes or elongated 1″ pieces
1 tsp sambar powder (see section under “Powders and Chutneys” in this blog for recipe
Salt to taste
1/4 cup tamarind extract (soak a gooseberry sized ball of tamarind in water and extract 1/4 cup juice)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
To Temper
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1/2 tsp split black lentils (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
2 sprigs curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1/4 cup grated coconut (optional)
Place the elephant yam pieces in a pressure cooker
Add salt, turmeric powder and the tamarind extract
Cook for exactly two whistles and let the steam release naturally
Open the lid and set aside (if there is any liquid at this stage, place in a wok and cook till the water evaporates, but don’t let the yam become mushy)
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the black lentil, curry leaves and asafoetida
Roast till the lentils turn golden brown
Add the cooked yam pieces and sambar powder
Cook for a few minutes till the raw smell of the yam evaporates
If using coconut, garnish at this stage,
Mix well and immediately switch off flame
Serve hot with red/brown rice or Indian breads

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