Yams are one of the most delicious vegetables you can eat, but you may not be aware that, as a root vegetable that’s been around for eons, they also have a long history of use as an alternative medicine. Modern researchers are examining possible health benefits of wild yams that include relief from muscle cramps, rheumatoid arthritis and symptoms of menopause and diabetes prevention. When we were out on another town on a trip, I saw a beautiful Yam with one of the vendor. The quality seemed to be the right one which I was looking for a long time. And I did not hesitate to buy it immediately. It did turn out to be a good soft Yam without giving any itching (which is bound to happen when we skin and clean the Yam). And I tried a different way of cooking also this time – making this Theeyal and Varuval in one go. I made the Theeyal with enough Yam pieces, separated out required pieces for the Varuval and went ahead in making the Varuval also. Since the Yam pieces are cooked in tangy and spicy Tamarind sauce for the Theeyal and the Yam pieces absorb the flavor of the Theeyal. And when the Varuval is made with these Yam pieces, the taste of the Varuval reaches a new high. You will know only when you cook it in this style and taste. Let us see how to make this yummy Theeyal and Varuval together (two in one method).
To roast and grind:
Grated Coconut – ¾ cup
Curry Leaves – from 2 sprigs
Onion – 1 (chopped)
Garlic Pods – 6
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Seed Powder – 2 tsp
Black Pepper Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/8 tsp
Salt – to suit one’s taste
Roasted Fenugreek – Powder – 1/8 tsp
Yam / Suran / Senai Kizhangu – 500 Gms
Oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – 1 (chopped)
Green Chillies – 2 (chopped)
Tamarind – large gooseberry sized ball (soaked in a cup of water)
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Dried Red Chillies – 3 (broken)
Curry Leaves – from 1 sprig
Asafoetida – one large pinch
Salt – very little
For Senai Varuval:
Rice Flour – 1 tbsp
Semolina (Rawa) – 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – ½ tsp
Oil – to roast the Yam
It is always better to use a plastic or rubber gloves while cutting the Yam to avoid itching while handling the Yam. If you are not comfortable wearing a gloves, apply some cooking Oil in the hands which will avoid any itching sensation while handling Yams. Fortunately the Yam I bought was such a good variety that I need not have worried about the itching at all.
Peel off the skin of the Yam. You can peel using a peeler or a knife only. Cut the peeled Yam into two different size of pieces since we are going to make two different dishes – a Theeyal and a Varuval. Cut half the Yam into one inch cubes and the remaining into two inch squares with ¼ inch thickness. Keep aside.
Dry roast the grated Coconut, Curry leaves, Onion and Garlic (all together) till the Coconut turn golden brown. Switch off the flame. Add Chilli powder, Coriander Seed Powder, Black Pepper Powder, Turmeric Powder, Salt and roasted Fenugreek Seed Powder. Stir for few seconds. Leave it to cool. Now, grind all of them together to a fine paste with little water. .
Heat 2 tbsp of Oil in a pan. Fry the Onion and Green Chillies for a minute in medium flame.
Add the cubed and sliced Yam Pieces. Roast them for 2 minutes. Extract the Tamarind juice and add to it. Add the roasted ground masala and 2 cups of water. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes covered with a lid till the Yam is almost 75 percent cooked. Separate out the two inch square Yam pieces from it to a separate plate or small vessel. Simmer the balance Theeyal for 6 to 8 minutes till the Yam pieces are cooked well.
In the meanwhile, we can start making the Senai Varuval. Add the Rice Flour, Rawa, Chilli Powder and little Salt to the separated out Yam pieces. Mix them well till the Yam pieces are coated evenly with the Masala.
Heat 2 tbsp of Oil in a broad pan. Arrange the masala coated Yam pieces in the pan leaving space in between the pieces. Roast them golden and crispy on both the sides in low medium flame. Sprinkle some Oil in between, if required. The tasty crispy Varuval is ready.
Let us get back to the Theeyal. Heat a tbsp of Oil I a small pan. Add Mustard Seed. When they crackle, add Red Chillies and Curry Leaves. Stir them for a few seconds. Add Asafoetida , stir well and transfer this tempering to the simmering Theeyal and mix well. The tasty Theeyal is also ready.