India has so many types of yams, ones that we don’t even dream of here. Two favourites are Elephant Yam and Elephant Foot Yam. Luckily these are available in a frozen from from Indian groceries. (Note that these yams are often confused, understandably, but are in fact, different yams.)
And luckily, Meenakshi Ammal, in her books Cook and See, has some recipes for these yams. In Tamil, the yams are Karunaikizhangu and Chenai (or Senai) Kizhangu. Don’t confuse it with Seppankizhangu, which is colocasia (taro), slightly smaller than karnaikizhangu. The Hindi name for the Elephant Foot Yam is Suran Jingikand. This recipe is for Elephant Yam but can also be made with Elephant Food Yam.
Yam Masiyal with Fenugreek Seeds | Karunaikizhangu Masiyal
175g Elephant Yam – Karunaikizhangu (use frozen if you can’t get fresh)
0.5 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
small piece new tamarind, soaked in hot water, and strained to remove seeds and fibres
0.75 tspn brown mustard seeds
8 Indian dried red chillies
0.25 tspn fenugreek seeds
5 – 8 curry leaves
4 tspns ghee or Indian sesame oil
Cook the toor dal until very tender and disintegrating. This will take 40 – 50 mins.
Cook the yam until very tender in boiling water. Drain and mash, and add a little water so that the mash is very soft.
Grind the fenugreek seeds to a powder and set aside.
Heat the ghee or sesame oil and add the mustard seeds, allowing them to pop. Add the dried red chillies, broken in half (to avoid them exploding in the heat) and the asafoetida. Then add the curry leaves.
Pour in the tamarind water and add the salt. Mix, then add the soft yam mash. Boil well before adding the cooked toor dal.
Bring back to the boil and mix well. Add the fenugreek powder, stir well and remove from the heat. Serve hot.