Diet food popularity is increasing exponentially. The creativity of chefs and nutritionists is exploding with ideas as more and more population is facing health challenges due to difficulty in maintaining a healthy lifestyle or other health problems like obesity, diabetes, gluten allergy, and the list continues.
I have discussed many other medicinal herbs and plants with you in my previous stories. We have explored many herbs and medicinal plants. Today we are going to explore one more edible plant that is also traditional medicine. Most importantly it is very tasty if you know how to prepare it. In the part of India where I grew up, it was commonly prepared like chicken curry or along with other meats. So, instead of chicken cut pieces of this root vegetable were added. Personally, I don’t think it tastes like chicken but I always enjoyed the taste of Suran masala.
What is Elephant Foot Yam?- Amorphophallus paeoniifolius
Suran or Elephant foot yam is a root vegetable that produces corms underground. These corms are edible and taste somewhat like yams or potatoes but have a distinct flavor. In the US, I usually get these corms in Asian grocery stores near me but I believe they are not produced here so many times they are decayed and moldy. It is a cash crop and can be a great option for small farmers. Here in the US, it is sold for $13–18 per kilogram and that too, not all stores keep it. So I decided to grow it in my home garden. And I’m happy that I did that because during covid I stopped seeing it in the stores near me and still not available. If you like this vegetable then there is another similar yam called African Jam root that tastes very similar to Elephant foot yam.
Elephant Foot Yam Plant Origin
The botanical name of elephant foot yam is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. It is believed that these plants first grew on islands in Southeast Asia and later became popular in the hot humid tropical rainforests in this region. They are also grown for hundreds of years, probably more in Australia. In India, it is commonly known as Suran or Jimikand. It is also known by the name corpse flower because of its very stinky flower. The smell is mainly to attract insect pollinators. Other names are Telingo Potato or Pugapung, Ol. There is another variety or possibly the same plant known as Konjac ( Amorphophallus konjac) that is grown in China and Japan to make noodles, jellies, and thickening agents that are keto-friendly and high in fibers. These noodles are a fancy version of this famine food. The flour made from elephant foot yam is used in the food industry to make weight loss foods because of the high fiber content. Elephant foot yam is a good natural source of vitamin A, Phosphorus, Iron, and Calcium.
Is it all good? A Warning Before You Eat this Yam
Elephant foot yam also contains some anti-nutritional factors, oxalates that include both soluble oxalates and insoluble calcium oxalates. They can cause the skin to itch if you eat these yams raw or are not processed properly. These oxalates are also toxic and cause kidney stones. According to some researchers, the corms are treated with alum and salt before cooking to deactivate oxalates. Also, during storing as the corm dries the oxalates decrease. I treat the cut slices with sour juice of Kokum fruit or apple cider vinegar before cooking.
Elephant Foot Yam as a Traditional Medicine & Proven Cholesterol Lowering Food
As a traditional medicine, a gel made from elephant foot is used to treat various diseases like cough, blood and skin diseases, burns. It has now been scientifically proven that glucomannan, which is commonly found in the tubers of the elephant yam, also known as the konjac plant, can help reduce blood cholesterol. Because of its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, elephant foot is believed to reduce hemorrhoids. Some researchers claim that the phytochemical glucomannan can ease the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. As a traditional medicine, elephant foot is also used to treat anemia, constipation, earaches, elephantiasis, fatigue, inflammations, intercostal neuralgia, pimples, seminal weakness, swelling of the throat, and general disability. Petioles used in scorpion bites and dysmenorrhea