Purple Delight

Purple Yam rich in Vitamin B6 arrives in the market post Diwali

Every time I asked Mangal—my gardener, caretaker rolled into one—when the climbers growing closer to his hut will will fruit, he would say, “After Diwali.” On insisting the name of the fruit, vegetable he would mumble something which didn’t make any sense to me.

A week after Diwali when I visited my farm I saw Mangal waiting to show me around the patch where the climbers had come up since June. He dug the ground from where the climbers had risen and brought out something which looked like tubers—the colour of peat, the shape uneven.

“Kand,” he said. “Boil it; scrape the skin and adding salt eat it like sweet potato.”

Reaching home I cut the tuber in half and was surprised by its colour—purple like beetroot. I had never come across such a vegetable and so googled and realized that it was called “purple yam.”

A species of yam, in botany, this is also known by the names “water yam” and “winged yam.” It contains a pigment that gives its bright lavender colour. In Hawai it is known as uhi, in  India as ratalu or violet yam, in Marathi as KondFal, in  Tamil as Rasa Valli Kilangu. Its one of the main ingredient in Gujarati delicacy called Undhiyo.

Popular in Jamaica, Nigeria and the Philippines, more than one hundred fifty varieties of yams exist and are known by many names depending on where they grow. Native to East Asia, this unusual tuber thrives in rocky soil and actually grows around the rocks. Ratalu Yams are traditionally planted during June in the tropical rainy season and harvested during December.

Yams are a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B6.

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