Root vegetables

I am under the impression that most of the root vegetables contain high carb. I am sure some of them are better in nutritional value than others. I love cassava/tapioca over potato. I don’t get good quality cassava in UK. I am used to the fresh kind, meaning, harvested just that morning. Even the ones from previous evening harvest gets a no no. The cassava vendors and people in my street used to argue over this issue of time of harvest. I like raw cassava to the cooked one. Cooked cassava with black coffee was a favourite dish of the Keralites in the Cardamom estates where I grew up. I do not like the quality of the casava that we get in UK. They are very old.

My mother being a not-adventurous cook, she never tried anything (other root vegetables) other than potato. Well, sem(b)ankilangu (not seppangilangu) was an exception, since we used to grow it in our agali (trench around the house) in Kerala. So, I became someone who cannot differentiate between senaikkilangu and karunaikkilangu. Last week, with the help of the shop assistant in East Ham, we bought senaikkilangu. Balan keeps a cookbook to correct me whenever I serve some nonsense in the name of very traditional item.. (he has been eating some item I have been serving him and the guests as bisibelabath until one of our friends’ mother asked me did I forget tamarind in it, and when I replied that tamarind is not an ingredient in bisibelabath). He showed me few recipes from the book to cook this senaikkilangu, Knowing the impatient me, the dish turned out to be something not listed/described in the cookbook. But certified as tasty. 🙂 Well, too  much chilli ought to make any dish tasty, I believe.

I like the texture of this root vegetable senaikkilangu, after cooked. (Needs too much cleaning and peeling 😦 ). If it has any extra nutritional value in comparison with potato, then I can promote this in our household. I have one important reason in wanting to promote this, that is, the varuval (dry fry) is not messy. So, I guess its starch content is less. The negative point for this vegetable is that it is expensive than potato and we have to drive to East Ham to buy this.


  1. Please tell me English names for semangilangu, senaikkilangu, seppangilangu and karunaikkilangu. I know either senaikkilangu or karunaikkilangu is yam, but I don’t know which one.
  2. If you know the nutritional value of these root vegetables, including cassava, please tell me.

Thanks in advance.

PS: Balan uses these cookbooks and downloads from the internet whenever he cooks.

PS2: Just realised that vegetables like carrot, radish and few others are also root vegetables (just forgot) and are not of carb type. I  just meant kilangu type as root vegetables. Is there is a separate word in English to mean just the kilangu type?

PS3: Just found out that Yam in America is what my mother calls Sinthamanikkilangu, a variation of sweet potato (sakkaravallikkilangu). Yam in UK/african shops is different. American Yam is not what I cooked yesterday.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mumbaigirl
    Jul 19, 2007 @ 20:29:17

    curious about this too-can you post pics so I can buy these too from East Ham-and the recipes!


  2. sudha
    Jul 20, 2007 @ 05:21:14

    there is nothing like well cooked almost mashed up karunai/senai kizhangu with curry leaves and seasoning ..yummy. I always thought senai = karunai = yam and sepa kizhangu = taro. And cassava = maravalli, right?


  3. B o o.
    Jul 20, 2007 @ 14:52:32

    My 2 cents:

    Kizhangu is Tube or Tuber in English.

    Karunai Kizhangu is yam.
    Senai Kizhangu is mostly called as Elephant yam I think.
    Seppan Kizhangu is Taro.(Also called Colacasia, no?)

    I have nt heard of Semankizhangu.

    I used to eat the boiled “Kuchi kizhangu”, when we lived in Dindigul, bought from the street vendors. Was yum. Dont know what its called in english. what about Kappa Kizhangu and something called “Maahaali Kizhangu” which is very famous in our family. they make pickles and I hate it! So many varieties of Kizhangu! wow!


  4. The Visitor
    Jul 20, 2007 @ 19:38:47

    Senai is elephant yam – yummy to eat but quite often gives a itchy throat.

    Seppan is colacasia – Varuval is my favourite form

    I too haven’t heard of Seman kizhangu

    Mara valli kizhangu or kappai is the same as Tapioca or Cassava (I dont know if this is also referred to as kuchi kizhangu.) I hated this boiled version; though the chips version was fine.

    Then sakkarai valli kizhangu – sweet potato – yuk 😛

    Maahaani or as Boo says Maahaali kizhnagu is made into pickles – has a strrrong odour/flavour, supposed to go well with thayir-saadam or mor-saadam. There are people who either swear by it (my parents) or hate it (me).

    Of all kizhangu’s I like urulai kizhangu (King of Kizhangus) – any form – mashed plain (continental style), mashed and spiced (podi maas), varuval, chips, as part of sambar or other curries.


  5. Premalatha
    Jul 20, 2007 @ 20:47:50

    Just looked up. Looks like Seppankilangu and semangilangu are same. Somebody confused me sometime ago.

    Have eaten all the senaikkilangu, so will do the photo when I go to East ham next time.

    Karunai and Senai are different, I think.
    You can mash senai? I think it is difficult. You can mash the starchy kind, like the potato or the casava, but not the senai, I think. May be should try next time.
    Yes, Casava = Maravalli = Kappa. I have heard some saying Kuchik kilangu for this. But I have had panangilangu which looks like stick and i have a feeling they are refering this.

    Why two cents? 🙂
    Just looked up, tuber sound right. thanks.
    The yam they are showing in the internet is a different variety of sweet potato and is called sinthamani kilangu (only by my mother). So I guess that is karunai.
    Yes, that boiled kuchi kilangu is called panangilangu in our area. no idea whether it has any connection with palm tree.
    I know the maahaali kilangu. Once i was given to taste the pickle. I just spitted it. I guess people love it or hate it.

    @visior, yes it looks like elephant yam is the senai. But will do a good photo for MG next time I go to East Ham.
    Why? you don’t like sakkaraivalli kilangu? Come to my house next time, i will cook some good one for you. I changed balan to eat it. Now he proudly tells our guests that he likes SV over potato. 🙂 (May be it is like the bisibelabath story. 🙂 might backfire on me sometime. )
    I like urulai varuval too. but when someoneelse makes it. It is messy. difficult to get the texture right. podimass i love. ya, i like it in sambhar too, people here don’t think it can be an ingredient in sambhar. I haven’t tasted mashed potatoes. people say they love it. Should try. I love baked potatos (Jacket potato). I like the skin in particular. potato skins are used separately in dish, here. i haven’t tried that one yet.


  6. The Visitor
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 06:40:02

    Kuchi kizhangu as referred to by Boo could be the panan kizhangu. It is longish and thin, hence they might mistake it for kuchi kizhangu. I think it comes covered with a husk/skin. This is quite often sold boiled and ready to eat on buses and trains particularly in the Nilakkotai, Sembatti and Dindugal area.

    Haven’t yet tried baked potatoes 😦

    After the earlier post I recalled the other forms of urulai – like in bonda, masala dosai, poori-masaal, cutlets (main ingredient) or aloo patties.


  7. Premalatha
    Jul 24, 2007 @ 14:12:44

    The blame goes to you. We bought a bag full of urulais (potato) last weekend. I am now salaivating over poori masaal i am going to prepare today or tommorrow. Thanks to a friend of ours, she served us bondas (very nice ones) just a few days ago. 🙂


  8. Visitor
    Jul 24, 2007 @ 20:01:12

    As long as you have a good time, its fine! Take care. 🙂


  9. sudha
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 03:26:12

    you can mash karunai by pressure cooking it. I can get the recipe from mom if ur interested.


  10. Premalatha
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 08:24:07

    Hi Sudha,
    If karunai = American/internet yam = UK sweet potato (another variety) = my mother’s sinthamani, then I agree that it is mashable. Will cook next week and will remember you while eating 😀


  11. Michelle
    Jul 27, 2007 @ 11:35:16

    I’ve not yet found what we called “sweet potato” in Africa here. I’ve tried yams and the Uk “sweet potato” – both different to what I’m ued to. I mean, they taste nice, but they’re just not the veg I know.


  12. Vidya
    Jul 30, 2007 @ 19:59:54

    Congrats yet again!

    WOW, so looks like you have been doing well and with all this discussion of the different tubers, now I want to have a typical senai upperi.. (which actually means, slightly salted elephant yam with turmeric and sauted in coconut oil)

    Why did I ever read this post and end up with a watering mouth. Anyways, it was fun reading it. How have you been doing? With my dad here in Dallas and a new job, life’s been too much fun and too hectic.

    Take care!


  13. Lax
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 10:21:25

    nice topic. :-). I am not sure panan kizhngu from Dindigul. I love to have the ones from Tuticorin area. Boil it with kal uppu (not the power salt), and after 15 minutes of boiling the aroma starts to fill the home. lol. After a 45-50 minutes of boiling in a viragu aduppu, the yummy yummy is ready. It has a skin to be peeled off. Then there is a silky layer of skin, (like you see in boiled eggs, underneath the shell). peel it off. (But i eat that too !). Panan kizhangu is thin long one, which tapers. Normally a well grown one is 1 ft long. an 1.5 inch tick at the top. The technique is to bite it at the top and split the kizhngu into two linear. The actual root is inside, which is soft ot the top. It is yummiest part in the kizhangu. Then there is “kondai” which is the head. Yummy again. Basically nothing to be thrown in panan kizhangu.


  14. Lax
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 11:15:22

    I managed to ind a picture of that. Not surewhat they call it in english.


  15. Venkat
    Jan 14, 2009 @ 20:02:08

    i just happened to see this blog…nice one…feels good to see all the oor names…like Sembatti, Vaadipatti… BTW i am from karaikudi. Not sure if this thread is still active…thought of taking part in it. I know some recipes from my Amma. My wife is a good cook too. She picked up a good number of recipes from my Amma…to please my palette. Such a nice wife, huh ? She makes authentic Ennai-Kathrikkai kuzhambu, Kondakadalai, Thattai payaru kuzhambu. What a coincidence…today being Pongal Dhinam Jan 14, 2009, i was talking about panan kizhangu today at work..and here is a blog on various aspects of panan kizhangu. such a yummy one…more later..


  16. thinagaren pather
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 12:50:13

    L live in south africa where sanai is called karanai kizhngu. Very popular amongst gujerati speaking indians who call it suran.Most south indians dont know about it.


  17. Vasu
    May 02, 2009 @ 07:00:18

    Nice Blog. So much of vital informations to go through. If any body knows wat sort of nutritions (like calcium, phosporous, pottasium and so on…), which kizhangus’ will be more helpful to everybody who go thru this blog…


  18. malar
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 09:53:56

    english name karunai kizhangu


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