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.

ARVI/ARBI ( corms of arvi)

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?)

kachaloo and arvi comparison
Kachaloo and Arvi comparison
  • 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.

Jimikand cut and uncut

The leaves of Arbi are consumed as a delicious snack . I was surprised they are available easily in the  larger vegetable markets in Delhi.

Leaves of ARBI

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.

Published by

mukul chand

51 year old entrepreneur who has traveled extensively around the world for work and pleasure , is based in New Delhi, India. A passionate traveler born with a love for flora and fauna, is an active naturalist and amateur photographer. Here he shares his unique insight into Incredible India revealing its mysterious and exotic treasures. Writing from his heart he shares his experiences as he crisscrosses this vast and amazing land.

10 thoughts on “EXOTIC ANCIENT ROOTS”

  1. Interesting one for me, I haven’t met before… But I learned that we plant too this root… The world produces 5 million tons in a year from 43 different countries. And ours is 1000 ton! Thank you dear Mukul, love, nia


  2. Thank you for visiting my blog cause it led me here to yours, which is informational which I like. The Leaves of ARBI or ELEPHANT’S EAR looks like something called dasheen bush here in Trinidad, which we general use to make Callaloo.


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