Suran (aka Elephant’s foot yam in Queen’s language) originated in India and thereafter travelled eastwards and westwards as far as America. In its prime form and best of its health this tuber crop would weigh as much as 10 kg. This crop is widely cultivated in Hindi belt of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and eastern state of Orissa, Maharashtra and Gujarat in west. It is also known as Jimikand in Hindi belt of India.
These crops are available in both the varieties, wild as well as cultivated. The crops that grow in wild are unpleasantly bitter and pungent and have high content of needle like calcium oxalate that may cause severe irritation in throat. However after research and development high yielding and non-acrid varieties have been released by many organizations which make this crop suitable for consumption. This has made this crop one of the fast growing cash crops in India.
Elephant’s foot yam is used widely in Indian cuisine. Every regional cuisine has many recipes that make use of yam. In north recipes like Tariwale Suran (gravy preparation with Suran), Suran ka chokha and several other pickles and chutneys make use of Suran. In south, Yam is used for making Puli Kuzhambhu which is a tangy gravy preparation that combines Yam with tamarind pulp. There are several other recipes that exist across India that make use of this tuber crop.
In Hindi belt, gravy is prepared with Yam and it is customary to eat this gravy during festivities of Diwali. Mom’s scare their kids into eating this gravy by telling them that those who do not eat this preparation would become “chachundar” in their next life. If you are wondering what is chachundar, google for term “Asian house shrew” and see for yourself what that creepy and smelly creature looks like. It is surprising; how every mother narrates that same story to their kids (even my mom did tell me that story) and poor kid would start eating this preparation out of scare until he would start loving it on his own.
I also remember this vegetable because of its mention in an iconic scene in one of the classic Hindi movie directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee “Bawarchi” in 1972. In this scene the lead actor Rajesh Khanna who plays the role of a cook, has cooked a gravy preparation using yam. He surely is a one good cook and makes an absolute treat using yam. So when the male members of the family are eating rice with this gravy, they find it irresistible. However accidentally they do not seem to realize what this gravy is made of and consider it to be mutton gravy. They keep asking their wife’s for more portions of mutton gravy, and cook (Rajesh Khanna) smiles realizing their mistake. Then one of ladies finds it too hard to bear this insult and utters out with dismay that the gravy is not mutton gravy but yam gravy. The folks who are dining look at them in disbelief and then look at the cook. Here comes the funniest line in the movie, “Banane wala suran ko mutton aur mutton ko suran bana sakta hai” (A good cook can make yam taste like mutton and an average cook can make mutton taste like yam). The actor utters this as a taunt to his wife and audience breaks into laughter. This iconic scene is etched into my memory forever and has elevated the status of yam in my eyes.
This Sunday, we decided to make a dish out of yam which is kind of unconventional. We have made use of ghee to make this thick preparation of Yam. Freshly ground whole spices add to the flavor and make the dish more aromatic. To get rid of itchiness in yam, we must combine it with souring agents like lime juice, tamarind or Aamchoor powder. We are making use of tamarind pulp, which not only eliminates itchiness but also adds to the flavor. Finally we make use of the slow cooking method of Dum that further elevates the entire experience. This preparation can be best enjoyed with hot plain paranthas or even pooris.
Make this simple and delicious preparation and share your feedback with us in the comment section below.
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- 375 grams Elephant's foot yam (Suran or jimikand)
- 50 grams onions sliced lengthwise
- 1 tsp black peppercorn
- 12 cloves
- 2 inch cinnamon sticks
- 2 big cardamom
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1.5 inches diameter tamarind ball
- 85 grams clarified butter (desi ghee)
- Ground whole spices (peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon) using mortar and pestle
- Heat clarified butter in a large vessel.Fry onions until they become brown.
- Meanwhile soak tamarind ball in half cup of hot water. We will extract pulp when water cools down.
- In about 6 mins onions become light brown.
- Add turmeric powder, suran and salt as per taste. Cook on low flame for 3-4 mins.
- After 4 mins of cooking, add 1 cup of water.
- Mix it well. Now cover with a lid and cook until Suran (yam) is 50 percent done.
- After 8 mins of covered cooking, remove the lid.
- Add tamarind pulp and mix it well. Cook uncovered until suran is completely cooked.
- Dumvale Suran must have thicker consistency. We can cook on medium flame and keep stirring so that water evaporates and dish attains thickness.
- After 4 mins of cooking, suran(yam) gets cooked and attains thick consistency.
- Now add grounded spices and stir them well for a min.
- After a min of stirring, turn off the flame.
- For Dum method of cooking,heat an iron griddle on high flame.
- We will knead a soft and sticky dough which will be used to seal the vessel in which suran has been cooked.
- Roll the dough into thin strips and apply them on the inner edges of the lid.
- When griddle becomes hot, lower the flame and put the vessel back on griddle.
- Seal the vessel by placing the lid (dough applied) on top of it.
- Place another heavy vessel (or some other weight) on top of the lid.
- Suran is cooked using Dum method for 7 mins.
- After 7 mins of dum, turn off the flame and let the dish stand for few mins.
- Now unseal the dish carefully.
- Aroma of cooking Suran with ghee with dum method is tempting. You can even unseal the dish on dining table.
- Dish is ready to be served.Dumvale Suran can be enjoyed with Plain Paranthas and pooris
Click here to watch recipe video