We give very little thought to the history of the food , I plead guilty so did I.
Very often we know the local names of the food we eat, but do not know anything beyond that. I positively fall in this category.
A discussion over a relaxed Sunday lunch and major prodding by gentle and dear friend Dr Richard Frazier compelled me to burrow underground. Do read the post titled “A COINCIDENCE” to know him more.
What I unearthed was surprising indeed. I asked a lot of people ,many of whom are Professors, but very few knew their roots or their food.
I uncover the “ROOTS OF INDIA” . ( will now not enter the botanical aspect of it being a root, a stem, a fruit etc. ) .
Pictures that follow were taken by me in a vegetable market in New Delhi. ( missed you Richard but learnt a lot)
Arvi (Hindi ) : TARO (English) : Colocasia Esculenta.
It is definitely the greybeard of food. Supposedly the oldest food known to man it was in cultivation in INDIA before 5000 B.C.
It is consumed as a vegetable to date in Indian homes.
Kachaloo is a close cousin carrying the same scientific name is gigantic compared to the size of ARVI.
Kachaloo (Hindi) : Taro ( English) Colocasia esculentum.
This “root” is relatively unknown to many Indian homes and consumed more as an accent or a companion.
The picture that follows will enable you to appreciate the difference in size, yet both carry the same scientific name: Colocasia Esculentum ? STRANGE INDEED. So I twisted the tail ( did you notice?)
- Shakarkandi I Hindi) : Sweet Potato ( English) Ipomoea batatas
- Originally from the Americas, it is eaten today in India as a snack and available as Street Food as well . Very rich in Beta-carotene.
Jimikand ( Hindi) : Elephant foot yam ( English) : Amorphophallus paeoniifolius
This tuber is also endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. It has a distinctive and somewhat offensive odour . Also used as medicine in Ayurveda .
Do see the green chilies on the right in the picture.
The leaves of Arbi are consumed as a delicious snack . I was surprised they are available easily in the larger vegetable markets in Delhi.
The root of this article/blog is the mix up with Cassava, caused inadvertently by me over lunch.
Cassava ( Manihot esculenta) is widely eaten in India as Sabudana ( Hindi) .
Sabudana is none other than the opaque pearls made from the starch( Tapioca) extracted from the Cassava Root .
Cassava finds its origins in South America.
Sorry could not find it in the local market and thus there is no picture.
On your next travel in India, do visit the local vegetable market, you could be enchanted by the HISTORY OF FOOD.