Purple Yam (Dioscorea alata)

Purple yam is used in a variety of desserts, as well as a flavor for ice cream, milk, Swiss rolls, tarts, cookies, cakes, and other pastries. In the Philippines, it is eaten as a sweetened dessert or jam called ube halaya and added as an ingredient in the ice dessert called halo-halo. In Maharashtra, the stir-fried chips are eaten during religious fasting. Purple yam is also an essential ingredient in Undhiyu.

 
D. alata is also valued for the starch that can be processed from it
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Yam (Dioscorea spp.)

Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae). These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. There are many cultivars of yam.
 
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) has traditionally been referred to as a yam in parts of the United States and Canada, but it is not part of the Dioscoreaceae family.
 
Although it is unclear which came first, the word yam is related to Portuguese inhame or Spanish ñame, which both ultimately derive from the Wolof word nyam, meaning “to sample” or “taste”; in other African languages it can also mean “to eat”, e.g. yamyam and doya in Hausa or “to chew” in Dholuo language of the Luo of Kenya and Northern Tanzania.
 
There are over 100 ethnic groups and languages in Nigeria, and each has different language names for Yam, “Isu” is the Yoruba translation or “Iyan” when it has been prepared to be consumed as a main course for dinner. The yam is a versatile vegetable which has various derivative products after process, it can be barbecued; roasted; fried; grilled; boiled; smoked and when grated it is processed into a dessert recipe. Yams are the staple crop of the Igbo people ofNigeria, in their language it is known as ji, and they commemorate it by having yam festivals known as Iri-j or Iwa-Ji depending on the dialect.
 
Yam tubers can grow up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in length and weigh up to 70 kg (154 lb) and 3 to 6 inches high. The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink. The majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the “meat”. This substance ranges in color from white or yellow to purple or pink in ripe yams.

 

Yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

The Yacón is a perennial plant grown in the Andes of Perú for its crisp, sweet-tasting tubers. The texture and flavour are very similar to jicama mainly differing in that yacon has some slightly sweet resinous and floral (similar to violet) undertones to its flavor. This flavoring is probably due to a sweet substance called inulin, as replicates the sweet taste found in the roots of elecampane, which also contains this substance. Another name for the yacón is Peruvian ground apple. The tuber is composed mostly of water and fructo-oligosaccharides.

 
Commonly called “jicama” in Ecuador, yacón is sometimes confused with this unrelated plant. Yacón is actually a close relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke. The plants produce propagation roots and storage tubers. Propagation roots grow just under the soil surface and produce new growing points that will become next year’s aerial parts. These roots resemble Jerusalem artichokes. Storage tubers are large and edible.
 
These edible tubers contain inulin, an indigestible sugar, which means that although they have a sweet flavor, the tubers contain fewer calories than would be expected.
 
Yacón plants can grow to over 2 meters in height and produce small, yellow inconspicuous flowers at the end of the growing season. Unlike many other root vegetables domesticated by the Indigenous Peoples of the Andes (olluco, oca), the yacón is not photoperiod sensitive, and can produce a commercial yield in the tropics.
 
Yacón provides for two nutritional products: the yacón syrup and yacón tea. Both products are popular among diabetic people and dieters because the sugar these products contain is not absorbed by humans. This form of sugar, known as FOS (fructooligosaccharide), a special type of fructose, leaves the body undigested. The syrup is also a prebiotic which means that it feeds the friendly bacteria in the colon that boost the immune system and help digestion.
 
The leaves of the yacón contain quantities of protocatechuic, chlorogenic, caffeic and ferulic acids  which gives tea made from the leaves prebiotic and antioxidant properties. As a result, some researchers have explored the use of yacón tea for treating diabetes and for treating diseases caused by radicals, e. g., arteriosclerosis.

 

 

Water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis)

The Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis; synonyms E. equisetina, E. indica, E. plantaginea, E. plantaginoides, E. tuberosa, E. tumida), more often called simply the water chestnut, is a grass-like sedge grown for its edible corms. The water chestnut is actually not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes, underwater in the mud. It has tube-shaped, leafless green stems that grow to about 1.5 metres. The water caltrop, which is also referred to by the same name, is unrelated and often confused with the water chestnut.

The small, rounded corms have a crisp white flesh and can be eaten raw, slightly boiled, grilled, and are often pickled or tinned. They are a popular ingredient in Chinese dishes. In China, they are most often eaten raw, sometimes sweetened. They can also be ground into a flour form used for making water chestnut cake, which is common as part of dim sum cuisine. They are unusual among vegetables for remaining crisp even after being cooked or canned, because their cell walls are cross-linked and strengthened by certain phenolic compounds. This property is shared by other vegetables that remain crisp in this manner, including the tiger nut and lotus root.
 
The corms are rich in carbohydrates (about 90 percent by dry weight), especially starch (about 60 percent by dry weight), and are also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B6,  potassium, copper, and manganese.
If eaten uncooked, the surface of the plants can transmit Fasciolopsiasis.
Raw water chestnuts are slightly sweet and very crunchy. Boiled water chestnuts have a firm and slightly crunchy texture, with a flavor that is very mild, slightly nutty in taste, so it is easily overpowered by any seasonings or sauces the water chestnut with which is served or cooked. Water chestnuts are often combined with bamboo shoots, cilantro, ginger, sesame oil, and snow peas. They are often used in pasta or rice dishes.

 

 

Ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus)

Ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) is a plant grown primarily as a root vegetable, secondarily as a leaf vegetable.

The ulluco is one of the most widely grown and economically important root crops in the Andean region of South America, second only to the potato. It is known there with the common name of papa lisa, but also by the regional names melloco (Ecuador), olluco (Peru), chugua (Colombia) or ruba (Venezuela), among others.  The leaf and the tuber are edible, similar to spinach and the potato, respectively. They are known to contain high levels of protein, calcium, and carotene. Papalisa were used by the Incas prior to arrival of Europeans in South America.
 
The major appeal of the ulluco is its crisp texture which, like the jicama, remains even when cooked. Because of its high water content, the ulloco is not suitable for frying or baking but it can be cooked in many other ways like the potato. In the pickled form, it is added to hot sauces. It is the main ingredient in the classic Peruvian dish “olluquito con charqui”, and a basic ingredient together with the cubio in the typical Colombian dish cocido boyacense. They are generally cut into thin strips.
 
Oblong and thinly shaped, they grow to be only a few inches long. Varying in color, papalisa tubers may be orange/yellow in color with red/pink/purple freckles. In Bolivia, they grow to be very colorful and decorative, though with their sweet and unique flavor they are rarely used for decoration. When boiled or broiled they remain moist and the texture and flavor are very similar to the meat of the boiled peanut without the skin but unlike the boiled peanut becoming soft and mushy the olluco remains firm and almost crunchy.

 

 

Tigernut (Cyperus esculentus)

Cyperus esculentus (chufa sedge, yellow nutsedge, tigernut sedge, earth almond) is a species of sedge native to warm temperate to subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, often cultivated for its edible tubers (tigernuts). It is an annual or perennial plant, growing to 90 cm tall, with solitary stems growing from a tuber. The stems are triangular in section, and bear slender leaves 3–10 mm wide. The flowers of the plant are distinctive, with a cluster of flat oval seeds surrounded by four hanging, leaf-like bracts positioned 90 degrees from each other. The plant foliage is very tough and fibrous, and is often mistaken for a grass.

he tubers are edible, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour, compared to the more bitter-tasting tuber of the related Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge). They are quite hard, and are generally soaked in water before they can be eaten, thus making them much softer and giving them a better texture. They have various uses; in particular, they are used inSpain to make horchata. They are sometimes known by their Spanish name, chufa.
 
Tigernuts have excellent nutritional qualities, with a fat composition similar to olives and a rich mineral content, especially phosphorus and potassium. The oil of the tuber was found to contain 18% saturated (palmitic acid and stearic acid) and 82% unsaturated (oleic acid and linoleic acid) fatty acids. 

 

Ti (Cordyline fruticosa)

Cordyline fruticosa is an evergreen flowering plant in the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae, known by a wide variety of common names including Cabbage Palm, Good Luck Plant, Palm Lily, Ti Plant, Kī, La’i (Hawaiian), Tī Pore (Māori), Sī (Tongan), “Lauti” (Samoan), and ʻAutī (Tahitian ).

Formerly treated in the families Agavaceae and Laxmanniaceae (now both subfamilies of the Asparagaceae in the APG III system), it is a woody plant growing up to 4 m (13 ft) tall, with leaves 30–60 cm (12–24 in) (rarely 75 cm/30 in) long and 5–10-centimetre (2.0–3.9 in) wide at the top of a woody stem. It produces 40–60-centimetre (16–24 in) long panicles of small scented yellowish to red flowers that mature into red berries.
 
Its starchy rhizomes, which are very sweet when the plant is mature, were eaten as food or as medicine, and its leaves were used to thatch the roofs of houses, and to wrap and store food. The plant or its roots are referred to in most Polynesian languages as tī. Māori ranked the sweetness of the plant above the other Cordyline species native to New Zealand.
 
Leaves were also used to make items of clothing including skirts worn in dance performances. The Hawaiian hula skirt is a dense skirt with an opaque layer of at least 50 green leaves and the bottom (top of the leaves) shaved flat. The Tongan dance dress, the sisi, is an apron of about 20 leaves, worn over a tupenu, and decorated with some yellow or red leaves

 

 

Taro (Colocasia esculenta)

Taro is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the family Araceae Of these, Colocasia esculenta is the most widely cultivated, and is the subject of this article. More specifically, this article describes the ‘dasheen’ form of taro; another variety is called eddoe.

Taro is native to southeast Asia. It is a perennial, tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible starchy corm, and as a leaf vegetable and is considered a staple in African, Oceanic and Asian cultures. It is believed to have been one of the earliest cultivated plants. Colocasia is thought to have originated in the Indo-Malayan region, perhaps in eastern India and Bangladesh, and spread eastward into Southeast Asia, eastern Asia, and the Pacific islands; westward to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean; and then southward and westward from there into East Africa and West Africa, from whence it spread to the Caribbean and Americas. It is known by many local names and often referred to as ‘elephant ears’ when grown as an ornamental plant.
 
The corms are roasted, baked or boiled and the natural sugars give a sweet nutty flavour. The starch is easily digestible and grains are fine and small and often used for baby food. The leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C and contain more protein than the corms.

Sweet Potato or Kumara (Ipomoea batatas)

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous.

The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). The softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, a practice intended to differentiate it from the firmer, white variety. The sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam, which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants; the name “tuberous morning glory” may be used in a horticultural context
 
The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose colour ranges between red, purple, brown and white. Its flesh ranges from white through yellow, orange, and purple.
 
Although the leaves and shoots are also edible, the starchy tuberous roots are by far the most important product. In some tropical areas, they are a staple food crop.

Skirret (Sium sisarum)

Sium sisarum (Skirret, Crummock) is a perennial plant of the family Apiaceae sometimes grown as a root vegetable. It has a cluster of sweet, bright white roots which are similar to sweet potatoes, but longer (15-20 cm). Skirrets may be boiled, stewed, or roasted. The woody core is inedible, and should be removed before cooking because it is difficult to remove after.

The skirret is of Chinese origin, but may have arrived in Europe in early times:
The plant grows about 1 m high and is very resistant to cold, as well as pests and diseases. It is usually grown from seeds, but may also be started from root divisions. Lack of moisture makes the root more fibrous.