Sunday, July 29, 2007

Y is for Yam Phodi

The myriad cuisines of India all love their vegetables! Veggies are diced and sliced, grated and mashed, stir-fried and curried into hundreds of vegetable dishes. In this series, the A to Z of Indian Vegetables, we take an alphabetical journey through the various avatars of vegetables relished in Indian cuisine. For each letter, we will make a tasty vegetable dish that illustrates one manner in which vegetables are savored in India.
The "Y" of Indian Vegetables
The letter Y inspired nineteen joyous Indian flavors!

Let's begin with the Y vegetables...

The first vegetable is the Yam! The terminology of yams can be highly confusing, but here is what I understand: As far as vegetables are concerned, yam is a common term for the edible tubers (swollen storage organs of a plant) that belong to a particular group of vines. Yams are starchy veggies, and generally pretty bland-tasting: they can be flavored in many different ways. The confusion arises because in the US, sweet potatoes (which come from another plant altogether, and have a sweet taste and are not as starchy and bland) are *mistakenly* called yams. In my book, sweet potatoes are sweet potatoes, and yams are yams :) and the two terms are not interchangeable! Otherwise, we would be calling potatoes "yams" pretty soon. But everyone has their own ideas about this, and we see some sweet potatoes sneaking in here (but we always welcome them; sweet potatoes are brimming with nutrients) :D

Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi use the "proper" elephant yam (called suran in Hindi) and make a traditional stir-fry from Kerala: cooking cubes of yam in coconut oil with mustard seeds and curry leaves to make this flavorful Yam Mezhukkuparatti.

Musical of Musical's Kitchen provides a sweet disclaimer, then goes on to combine nutritious sweet potatoes with fiber-and-antioxidant-rich black blacks into a beautiful stew of Yam with Black Beans.

Tee of Bhaatukli, in her own words, "advantage of the fact that Sweet Potatoes are called Yams here in the US" :) and cooks them into the most fantastic three-ingredient recipe ever: her Yam Caramelized in Jaggery Sauce take "candied yams" to the next level.

Aarti of Aarti's Corner cooks sweet potatoes with milk, sugar and cardamom into a creamy and delicious Yam Halwa that looks like a real treat.

You can always count on Live2cook of Live To Cook to come up with something unusual for this series! This week, she tells us all about Yampi, a yam variety from Jamaica. Here, the yampi is cooked, the leathery and rather formidable-looking skin is peeled off, and the yampi is stuffed into dough to make these crispy and inviting Yampi Paratha.

The next vegetable is one I never would have thought of: Yardlong beans! These bright green lanky beauties are widely used in Chinese and South-Asian cuisines. Laavanya of Cookery Corner turns them into a flavorful side-dish: her YardLong Beans Thoran has tender beans cooked with a tasty coconut paste.

We now come to an array of sunny and summery Yellow vegetables; the deep yellow color of these vegetables is a hint that these veggies contain a burst of healthful pigments.

First up, the Yellow Capsicum, adding sweetness and a splash of color wherever it is used. Asha of Aroma/ Foodie's Hope cooks them in a typical Kannada style to make a tasty side-dish, Yellow Capsicum Gojju.

Next come the gorgeous and rather unusual Yellow Beets. TC of The Cooker tosses cooked yellow beets with nuts, herbs and lemon juice to make a bright Yellow Beet Salad.

The last yellow vegetable is very much in season at this very minute: the Yellow Squash. Here are three exciting and innovative ways to cook it:

Cathy of My Little Kitchen cooks up a feast: she combines masoor dal, yellow squash and whole spices to make a flavorful Yellow Squash Dalcha, and serves it with Yellow Yogurt (Carrot Raita) and brown rice for a healthful and utterly satisfying meal.

Zlamushka of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen makes something that looks like a work of art: her Yellow Squash Baked Boats consist of hollowed-out yellow squashed stuffed with a savory mixture of herbs and rice, baked to perfection.

Linda of Out Of The Garden uses the freshest squash possible: it comes straight from her mother's garden. Linda cuts thick juicy slices of the squash, then dredges them with flavorful sambar powder and fries them in pure ghee to make this elegantly simple ode to summer: Yellow Squash Saute.

The next vegetable is Yelimichangai, which means lime in the Tamil language. Tangy limes bring a burst of fresh flavor to so many Indian dishes. Raaga of The Singing Chef gives them the spotlight with her recipe for Yelimicha Sevai- a simple stir-fry of thin rice noodles perked up with fresh lime juice.

Hima of SnackORama takes up the challenge of the rather difficult letter Y and comes up with a whole Y Vegetable Andhra Thali. This plate contains an arraY of delicious home-style vegetable dishes: Yellow Squash dal, Yam curry and Yogurt Chutney.

The next Y food is cool and creamy Yogurt. It is highly prized in the Indian diet, especially during these hot summer months. Yogurt is often eaten by itself as a accompaniment to the meal, but can also be combined with vegetables with fantastic results.

Nothing is ever wasted in the traditional Indian kitchen: Suma of Veggie Platter shows a typically Andhra way to use up sour yogurt. Snake gourd is cooked until tender, then combined with whisked yogurt and a spicy ginger-chilli paste to make a tasty dish of Yogurt with Snake Gourd.

Madhuli of My Foodcourt shares a fiery recipe for a chutney that is as kicked up as it can possibly get: Fire-roasted green chillies are blended with cooling yogurt to make this tantalizing Yogurt Mirchi.

Dhana of Fresh Kitchen makes a crowd-pleasing dish: Crispy fried okra is mixed in with tempered yogurt and a hefty pinch of turmeric to make this gorgeous Yellow Dahi Bhindi.

The next dish is full of simplicity and goodness: Jyothi of Andhra Spicy mixes cooked rice, tempered yogurt and lots of fresh cilantro and a few crispy dried chillies to make an inviting bowl of Yogurt Rice.

Manasi of A Cook At Heart celebrates her first blog-birthday with a bowl of Yogurt Wadas- a cool and delightful treat in summer.

We end with two Yummy snacks, both a lovely shade of Yellow! G V Barve of Add Flavor makes a crunchy duo of Yellow Cornflakes Chivda and Yellow Jalebi.

Y is for Yam Phodi: Vegetables as Themselves

After months of cooking vegetables in all kinds of dals and curries; and combining them with eggs and yogurt and all kinds of other vegetables, this post is dedicated to celebrating vegetables in their own right! And lucky for you, since I just returned from a trip and am a little tired, this post will be a short one :)

For the letter Y, I turned to the one Y veggie I could think of: the Yam! I wanted to use the Indian purple yam, often called suran. Beneath a nondescript skin lies this gorgeous color, and the pattern reminds me of tie-dyed fabric:

This was the very first time I ever cooked yam, and I decided to go with Shilpa's recipe for Rava Phodi. Slices of vegetables are smeared with a tasty tamarind paste, then dipped in semolina/ rava and shallow-fried: the result is a crisp and delicious side-dish that can turn a simple meal of dal-rice into something quite special. This was the very first time I cooked purple yam, and I was expecting a rather bland and starchy taste. The truth is, purple yam tastes sweet and delicious!

Yam Phodi

(serves 2, adapted from Shilpa's recipe)
1. Wash, peel and slice purple yam to yield about a cup or so.
2. In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp tamarind paste, salt, chili powder and turmeric to taste, and a pinch of asafoetida. Smear each of the yam slices with the paste and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. In a small dish, combine 1/4 cup of rava (semolina) and salt to taste.
4. Dredge each slice of yam in the rava mixture and shallow-fry until crispy on each side.
5. Serve right away as a snack or a side-dish.

Here are some delicious recipes from fellow bloggers, featuring vegetables as themselves...
Phodis from Past, Present and Me
Sweet Potato Crisps and Chips from Jugalbandi,
Roasted Tindora from Towards a Better Tomorrow,
Simple Fried Eggplant from Salt and Pepper,
Oven Fried Banana Chips from The Spice is Right,
Tandoori Vegetables from The Spice Cafe,
Grilled Corn (Bhutta) from Manpasand,

Previously on the A to Z of Indian Vegetables...
A is for Aloo Gobi: North-Indian Stir-Fry
B is for Bharli Mirchi: Stuffed Vegetables
C is for Carrot-Cashew Payasam: Desserts
D is for Dum ki Arbi: Dum Style of Cooking
E is for Egg-Fried Rice: Rice and Vegetables
F is for Foogath: South-Indian Stir-Fry
G is for Gobi Paratha: Vegetables in Breads
H is for Hariyali Tikki: Vegetables in Appetizers
I is for Idli with Vegetables: Vegetables for Breakfast
J is for Jalfrezi Vegetables: Restaurant Style
K is for Kati Roll: Vegetables and Paneer
L is for Lasuni Dal Palak: Vegetables and Lentils
M is for Malai Kofta: Dumplings
N is for Nargisi Kebab: Vegetables and Eggs
O is for Onion Chutney: Vegetables in Chutneys
P is for Pattagobi Pachadi: Vegetables in Salads
Q is for Quick Carrot Pickles: Vegetables in Pickles
R is for Radish Paratha: Root Vegetables
S is for Spinach Amti: Green Leafy Vegetables
T is for Tomato Red Pepper Saar: Soups
U is for Undhiyu: Regional Delicacies
V is for Vegetable-Cheese Sandwiches: Mixed Vegetables
W is for Wild Mushrooms and Walnuts: Fungi, Fruits, Nuts
X is for eXploration: Pattypan Squash Sambar


  1. Nupur, I was drooling at the yam phodis at 7:30 am!!!!! The transformation from the purple slices to that yumm looking result is amazing...

  2. Lovely phodis, them! Great recipe and round up, Nupur. You won't believe, but i found a can of desi yams in the store, opened it and then felt it didn't smell right :( so ended up using amreekan yams.....Lucky you to find those purple jimikand (send some my way) :-D.

  3. I have neither seen those pretty colored yams nor heard about those phodis. Thanks for this recipe.

  4. And thanks for removing that word verification thing. :) I never got to comment here without typing twice and some times even thrice.
    There were several occassions where comments left here came back to my hotmail account, though I don't why.

  5. Wow!! those yam slices do look like bandhani pattern!! Cool! the phodis look nice and crisp! and easy to make too!
    Thank u for including my recipe!

  6. I have never seen such purple colored yams..they look so pretty that way!



  7. That's a lovely write-up at any length, Nupur! Thanks for taking the time to put it together. Looking forward to trying all the Y goodies; purple yam looks so pretty doesn't it!

    Hope you have a relaxing rest-of-the-day :)

  8. That yam looks so good. I've not seen purple ones before...mostly off-white.
    The phodis look so nice and crispy. Nice round-up too - Thanks Nupur.

  9. I always thought that too about Yam.We call it Suvarna Gedde in K'taka which are Yam and sweet potatoes are totally different!!
    Anyway,we have to train our brains to twist lot of things in US,my kids always make fun of me and my pronunciation (like Kh-a-ki.I say "a" like as in aam and they say as in Apple!)!:D
    Great round up as always. Phodi looks great,yummy snack.

  10. I never knew yams makes such good crisps...they looks so nice and really hat-off to that round-up
    Thanks dear!

  11. Very neat round up as always! More like a yam-a-thon! :)
    Just wondering if you have seen my entry..... which is not an entry!!!! :(

  12. Nice round up, and a gr8 yam recipe :) The colour of the yam does look like tie and dye.

  13. I've never seen purple suran! wow purple suran,purple poatoes...!

  14. Nice roundup Nupur.Nice idea of using Yam for the Phodi..i usually do that with always great work!ata thoda aaram kar :)

  15. thanks for the yammy...oops yummy roundup !
    the phodi looks awesome. --jai

  16. Nupur,

    Nice round up as usual! I love the yam recipe, how unique.

    Also loved your mushroom pilav pictures. Really nicely done.

    Hope you are having a great summer!

  17. Hmmm... I bought yam for the Y event. But didn't have time to make anything with it before leaving for vacation.

    Great round up as usual. Will post my Z dish in the next few days :-)

  18. Hi Nupur,

    thank you very much for talking so nicely about my post (shy face).. :) Your event I like the most, it´s so inspirational. I dotn eat meat (preferrably), so all these vegetarian dishes are sooo tempting... thanx again

  19. Hi Nupur,

    Great Idea.. will try it tonite. There is a "Ratala" in the veg basket anyways :) .Hey my MIL taught me this yummy "ratalachya kis" which is a hot favourite during fasting. Would like to share that recipe. How do I do that? Directly in the blog, or do I send it across to you in email.


  20. I know yam as elephant yam.I never know yam for sweet potato too.Thanks Nupur for added mine too.

  21. Dhana, the phodis still looked purple was fun to eat :)

    Musical, ooh, the canned yams don't sound very good! I'm so glad you went with the fresh sweet potatoes and made that delicious dish.

    Suma, Bee's post on DH made me realize that the word verification was such a pain :) Had not realized that myself or I would have removed it much earlier.

    Manasi, exactly, like bandhani :) Now I'm wishing I has some bandhani stuff to wear (wore it a lot in college in India...plain white salwar-kurta with a colorful bandhani duppata).

    Shn, they looked just adorable as I was slicing them. I stared at them for a long time before cooking them :)

    Linda, Thank you so much for your participation in this event! Have a wonderful vacation!

    Laavanya, glad you like it!

    Asha, true, true!

    Padma, thanks :)

  22. Coffee, it is a yam-yellow-yogurt-a-thon :) I did see your non-entry, and you see, you could have sent in in to give these other sweet potatoes company ;)

    Archana, nature can be so beautiful, right? With the colors and the patterns.

    Anita, oh really? Purple yam is quite popular in Gujarat and Maharashtra, I think! Even within India, we have so many region-specific veggies.

    Madhuli, Brinjal phodi sound good too! :) yes, I will be getting some rest after next week ;)

    Jai, your dish was the yammiest of 'em all ;)

    Kanchana, I have to thank Shilpa for the lovely yam recipe :) Glad you liked the mushroom pulao pics. I *am* having a fun summer, and hope you are too!

    Raaga, looking forward to your Z dish!

    Zlamushka, I love hosting this event for the same reason- every week I have been inspired by tons of superb recipes and ideas.

    Arati, I have a ratalyacha kis posted already :) If you like, you could leave your recipe in the comment here, so people can see a variation of the recipe:

    GVB, yes, in Europe, I suppose they don't use the term yam for sweet potatoes.

  23. Those yams do look like tie-dye! Thanks for another new-to-me recipe, and a method that would work with many other root vegetables.

  24. Great round up! Loved the Yam Phodis...the yams do look like tie-dyed fabric!! :)

  25. great array of dishes, and yours is the best. thanks for the recipe and roundup.

  26. Oh yummy recipe for Yam slices :)
    Dont get suran here.. I know suran as the yellow stone shaped (not long)vegetable.. Will this recipe go with American Yams?? (The ones that look like sweet potato but are brownish black in color and a bit hairy at ends)

  27. the yam phodi is delicious nupur, the A-Z has been a real eye opener for me :)

  28. only if our hostel had such a delicious spin on suran! Megha

  29. Ahhh, i missed the event again.... Had made Yellow squash veggie, but didnt get around to posting it.... anyways next time i wont miss it.... great round up Nupur and love the Yam phodis.... they look like Anarse:)

  30. that is a beautiful recipe. the yam phodi look so awesome.

  31. Hi Nupur Ji, great roundup. This is my first time participation in your A-Z event. Very happy to see my blog in this event. Thanks for hosting.

    That yam phodi looks wonderful. Never tried any dish with yam. I want to try this. I am going to participate for this week letter "Z" too. Thanks again.


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