India is Yam Heaven – so many more varieties there than are grown or available here. Two outstanding ones are Elephant Yam, and Elephant Foot Yam. Sadly, these two get confused, even by Indian bloggers and writers. It took me quite a while and lots of conversations to sort the two out.
While you can’t purchase them in the shops here, not even in Asian or Indian shops, you might just find them in the frozen section of your South Indian grocery store. It is worth searching them out, just to try them and to say that you have eaten Elephant (Foot) Yam.
If you have any more information about these yams, please share.
Elephant Foot Yam | Senai Kizhangu
And luckily, Meenakshi Ammal, in her books Cook and See, has some recipes in her Masiyal section of the Poritha Kuzhambu chapter. In Tamil, the yams are Karunaikizhangu and Chenai (or Senai) Kizhangu. Another name for the Elephant Foot Yam is Suran Jingikand.
Elephant Yam | Karunaikizhangu
According to Meenakshi Ammal, the two different yams can be used interchangeably in the three Masiyal recipes that I am going to make and share with you. Today’s recipe is made with toor dal (red gram dal) and uses tamarind.
Similar recipes include Tamarind Suran and Arbi, Eggplant Misayal, Elephant Yam Masiyal with Lime Juice, Elephant Yam Masiyal with Fenugreek Seeds, Poritha Kootu, and South Indian Yellow Pumpkin Soup.
Elephant (Foot) Yam Masiyal
175g Elephant Yam or Elephant Foot Yam
0.25 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
small piece tamarind, soaked in hot water, and strained to remove seeds and fibres
50ml coconut milk
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
8 – 10 curry leaves
0.5 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
5 – 6 green chillies, chopped
small piece of ginger, chopped
4 tspns ghee or Indian sesame oil
Cook the toor dal until very tender and disinegrating. This will take 40 – 50 mins.
Meanwhile, scrape or peel the skin from the yam and cut into small pieces. Wash thoroughly four or five times. Cook until very tender in boiling water. Drain and mash well.
Mix the tamarind paste and water with the turmeric powder and some salt into the mashed yam.
Heat the ghee or oil in a kadhai or small wok (or use a saucepan or frying pan). Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop, then add the black gram dal. As the dal turns golden, add the green chillies and ginger. Saute them a little, then pour all into the mashed yam and tamarind mixture.
Add the cooked dal and the asafoetida. Boil it well.
Add the coconut milk and crushed, or pinched curry leaves. Boil a little more, allowing two boilings – bring to the boil, take off the heat and let the boiling settle, then bring to the boil again. Remove from the heat.
Serve medium thickness or prepare it a little loose to serve like a soup. Eat with Dal Rice.
recipe notes and alternatives
Coconut pieces, mixed with water and blended or ground to a paste, can be added.
When cooking the yam, if it doesn’t seem to be getting tender, add a pinch of baking soda.
**photos of yams from the internet