This is a traditional recipe made in many kayastha homes in Uttar Pradesh. Sooran/ Suran/ zamikand/jimikand in hindi or Elephant Foot Yam/Indian Yam in English, is an ugly tropical tuber wit ha thick hide. It is very high in carbohydrates and a good source of proteins, key and trace minerals like copper, zinc, magnesium etc, It also has some vitamins and antioxidants and has high dietary fiber content. Yam is also very low in saturated fats and sodium. You can find all the health benefits on Google. :D
I love yam for many reasons, unlike arbi ( Colocasia), yam is easy to digest. I have a sensitive digestive system and yam suits me perfectly. We cook this vegetable in many ways. Mom remembers my granny making sooran ki sabzi and chutney especially during Diwali when they lived in Banaras. She also makes the maharashtriyan or Konkani style of curry. My dad was from Allahabad so we got to eat the delicious kayastha cuisine too. This particular recipe is my innovation of a recipe from my dad’s side. The mixture used for making dumplings or koftas can also be used for making kabab but I don’t add so much of besan (gram flour) to the kabab mixture.
To make the Dumplings/Koftas you will need :
Yam – 400 Grams
Onion – 1 medium (finely chopped)
green chilies – 2 medium (finely chopped)
Ginger – 1 teaspoon (grated)
Salt – to taste
Garam masala – 1/2 teaspoon
Amchoor (mango powder) or anardana powder (pomegranate seed powder) – 1/2 teaspoon
Red chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Roasted cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander greens – 2 tablespoons – finely chopped
Besan ( gram flour) – 1/2 cup
For the Curry you will need –
Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 4 big ( grated)
Ginger – 1/2 inch
Garlic – 4-5 pods.
Coriander greens – 1/4 cup (finely chopped)
Coriander Powder – 3 heaped table-spoon
Haldi (Turmeric) Powder – 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala – 1/2 Teaspoon
Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Asafetida – 2 pinches
Salt – to taste
Bay leaf – 1 ( if Garam masala doesn’t have it)
Green peas – 1 cup (optional)
Oil – for deep-frying and cooking
To make the Koftas or Dumplings –
Scrub and wash the Yam properly and peal a thick layer of skin. Wash it again to remove any dirt that may have remained from the skin.
Cut the yam in 2 1/2 inch thick broad pieces . Put them in a steamer or pressure cook till soft (2-3 whistles is good) . ( I usually put it in arhar (Toor) daal while cooking. Doing this takes away the itchiness of sooran and gives the dal a very good flavor. )
Once the yam is soft take it out in a plate and cool.
In a bowl place cooled yam pieces and all the ingredients listed under dumplings. Mash the yam well so that you get a smooth mixture. Use your hands. It will make it easier for you to judge the consistency of the mixture and working with fingers will also help the air pass through the mixture and that will make them soft and fluffy.
Once the mixture is ready, make small round dumplings or koftas, about the size of a walnut in its shell, and keep them ready in a plate.
In a kadhai (wok) heat mustard oil or any vegetable oil you use. (If using mustard oil, make sure to bring it to smoking point and then turn the heat down)
Slowly add the dumplings to the hot oil and let them deep fry till golden brown from all over. Keep the flame medium low so that the koftas get cooked from inside too.
Take out the koftas on a kitchen napkin to remove excess oil.
Now for the gravy / curry :
In a wide pan heat a little oil ( 4-5 tablespoons) ( use the oil in which you fried the koftas). Once the oil heats add cumin seeds and asafetida. Add finely chopped onions and stir. (you can add bay-leaf if your garam masala doesn’t have it)
When the onions become translucent, add finely chopped or grated ginger and garlic. (I avoid paste)
Let it brown properly. Adding a little salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar helps in browning .
Add red chili powder and a little water ( 2 tablespoons) to give that rich brown color to the gravy. Let it cook for a while. Once the water reduces a bit add coriander powder, haldi powder, garam masala powder and stir. let the masala cook on medium to low heat for a few minutes.
Add tomato purée or grated tomatoes at this point. (I discard the seeds of tomatoes)
Stir the mixture properly so that all the spices get incorporated properly. Cover the pan with lid and let it cook for sometime on medium heat. Once the masala starts leaving the sides and the oil separates, add a little water and peas and finely chopped coriander greens . Mix well and cook for sometime.
Add 2 cups of water to make a thick gravy and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
You can add koftas at this time and cook for another ten minutes before taking the kofta curry out in a bowl to serve. I keep the curry and koftas separate and add them half an hour before serving. That way the koftas don’t dissolve in the curry and taste nice too.
Take out the delicious , soft from inside and crispy from outside yam kofta curry in serving dish and eat with rice or parathas. You can place the fried koftas in the serving dish and pour the thick hot gravy on top too. Garnish with fresh finely chopped coriander greens.
( There is another tip for the koftas – If you are preparing this dish to be had later you can half fry the koftas and keep them covered in a bowl. About half an hour before serving you can deep fry them again and add to the curry. Koftas stay crisp and it saves time if you are working or need to go out for somewhere. half-done koftas can be kept in the fridge to be used the next day too and will taste exactly like the freshly fried.)
To make the kababs – prepare the mixture as you did for the koftas. You can reduce the amount of besan in this recipe. I add only two tablespoon. The mixture should be gooey for the kebabs to taste good. Trust me you will forget shammi kebabs once you eat these.
Wet your palms and make tikki (cutlets kebabs) from the yam mixture. Keep the edges rough. Brush the non stick frying pan with ghee or oil and gently place the kebabs once the oil/ghee is hot. Keeping the heat medium – low. Turn the kebabs when one side is done. They should be golden brown and crisp from both sides. Serve with green chutney and onion rings.
( If using the desi variety of elephant foot yam always apply oil to your hands or use gloves while handling it as it can be very itchy.)
I also make sooram chutney (rarely), chokha and bharit or bharta. Will put up the recipes soon.
Include this healthy vegetable in your daily diet. It can be a good substitute for potato and can be used in Paleo diet too.
How do you cook this vegetable ? Do share your views.