Pidi Karunai Kizhangu Kara Kuzhambu:
Karunai Kizhangu Puli Kuzhambu. I am yet to find its English name! People often confuse this with Elephant Yam. Whereas Elephant Yam is Senai Kizhangu.
Pidi Karunaikizhangu is an unique vegetable(modified root infact). It comes under Yam family! Its a slender yam….we call that Pidi Karunaikizhangu in Tamil! Pidi means a fistful…the root is actually fits into one’s palm….so name derived from it!
Since its a modified root…the root is also filled with Rhaphides….a needle like(invisible but)calcium and potassium deposits!. They are actually the plant’s excreta. These rhapides are the ones that makes our palms itchy while peeling these roots and when we consume, it will make our throat very pricky. So always make sure that you prepare a very tangy(generally tamarind base…or you could try something with lemon/tomatoes). We allow this gravy to stand overnight before eating them. It requires 10-12 hours of soaking in tamarind puree/gravy….to dissolve away that heavy deposits of calcium! Once done with this process, its absolutely palatable and delicious!
Its Botanical name is Dioscorea alata (water yams)…however, am not positive…as there are too many yam varieties to confuse one.
Roots 4-6 sliced/cubed(just for now I could say slender yams)
Cricket ball size tamarind or 1 spoon of thick tamarind paste
Red onion 1 large finely chopped
Garlic 1 large peeled and semi crushed
Tomato 1 large chopped
Jaggery or brown sugar 1 spoon
Turmeric powder 1/2 spoon
Chili powder 1 spoon
Rice powder 1 spoon
Sesame oil 1 cup
Mustard seeds 1 spoon
Cumin seeds 1 spoon
Fenugreek seeds 1/2 spoon
Chana dal 1/2 spoon
Urad dal 1/2 spoon
Asafoetida 1/2 spoon
Dry red chilies 3-5
Curry leaves few.
In a deep pan heat few spoons of oil. Add garlic, fry till its raw smell goes off. Further add onions, fry till they turn to golden brown color. Now add tomatoes, fry them till they loose their water content.
Now add salt, turmeric, chili powder, sugar/jaggery and rice powder. Blend them together.
Add chopped roots. Fry them for a while. Maybe till they are kind of fried a little.
Then add tamarind paste and 2 cups of water.
Once the vegetable is done, gravy thickens, oil shows up on top….remove from heat.
In a separate pan, heat oil. Add mustard, cumin, asafoetida, fenugreek, chenna dal, urad dal, dry red chilies and curry leaves. Let them pop and splutter well. Run this seasoning over the gravy.
Let the gravy sit for 4-7 hours before serving….the more it rest the roots get imbibed with juice. The tamarind has to dissolve the raphides(calcium deposits)from the roots. Otherwise…its going to be bit painful to the throat! So watch it.
Serve this along with plain steamed rice. Run a spoon full of ghee over it…..just before serving.