What is taro root? Amongst root tubers used as food, taro is one of the most popular edible tubers food globally. As vegetable root it is used in various parts of South and South East Asia, Pacific Islands, West African regions and South American region around Amazon. This tuber is rich in starch and can be cooked very similar to potato – fry, bake, boil or steam. It offers a sweet nutty flavor to food. It has a hairy outer skin which often has to be removed. Raw taro root is toxic in nature and it is inedible before cooking.
Edible taro root is known by various other names – cocoyam, dasheen, colocasia, eddo root, elephant’s ear (plant and leaves), kalo, etc. In India it is known as Arbi (Hindi), chembu kizhangu (Malayalam), sivapan-kizhangu (Tamil) chamagadda or chaama dumpa (Telegu) kacchalo (Punjabi). In Fillipino tagalong it is known as gabi ugat. In Spanish it is referred as yautia or malanga. Taro has special place in native Hawaiian food. Hawaiian taro or Kalo as it is popularly known, is used in staple diet in Hawaii. According to an anecdote, Kalo was ancestor of these islanders and power which kept Hawaiians united as family. Kalo food festival is time when Hawaiians celebrate with Hawaiian taro roots recipes. Poi or mashed taro root is a popular Hawaiian food made from taro root.
Read more about : health benefits of taro leaves
Another variety, Purple taro plant has tubers with light purple colour due to presence of few phytonutrients. They offer beautiful color to the food.
Taro root nutrition facts
Taro root is rich in carbohydrates most of this is in form of digestible starch. 100 grams of taro root offers about 110 calories of energy. Around one sixth of root by weight are dietary fibers. It is rich source of vitamin E and other vitamins including Vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin. It offers body with source of potassium, iron, magnesium and other minerals.
Health benefits of taro roots
Taro root with its rich source of nutrients and phytochemicals offers many healing properties. Some of the taro root benefits are discussed here:
Healthy source of carbohydrates
Kalo offers rich source of carbohydrates, mainly amylose and amylopectin which are very easily digestible. It is broken down to sugar by human saliva. Above all this the starch is free from gluten. Its gluten free profile is good for people suffering for celiac disease. Taro root has low glycemic index, which will mean it offers long lasting energy. This comes as boon for athletes and diabetic patients.
Kalo for healing wounds
In Hawaii, local people used ground taro tuber paste or pieces of the root to dress wounds. Its fiber profile along with phytochemicals is believed to act towards healing wounds.
Did you know potato peels are also used for healing wounds?
Excellent source of fibers
Taro root is good source of dietary fibers. Around one sixth of taro root by weight is dietary fibers. These fibers aid in digestive process. They are helpful in movements in bowel and can help treat constipation. They also help block absorption of toxic waste and cholesterol in intestine. This dietary fiber is also helpful in offering low glycemic index and feeling of fullness of stomach. It thus reduces craving for food and aid in weight loss plan.
Source of Vitamin
Taro root is excellent source of vitamin A and Vitamin E. These vitamins are antioxidant in nature and protect the mucus membranes of skin and eyes from oxidation. With their antioxidant properties they help in preventing cancers due to oxidative stress. Taro root also has good levels of vitamin B complex vitamins.
Taro for healthy heart
With low fat and cholesterol content, it is one heart healthy food. It also offers with good source of dietary fibers which prevents absorption of cholesterol in body. Vitamin E in taro reduces risk of heart attack with its antioxidant properties. With low sodium and high potassium content it is good for people with hypertension.
Taro root and diabetes
Various properties of taro root collectively makes it good for diabetes inspite of being rich in carbohydrates. Taro has low glycemic index and rich supplies of fibers. Its phytonutrients have antioxidant potential and reduces risk of oxidative stress on pancreas which may lead to diabetic condition. Latest study confirms its suitability for diabetic people.
Read more about natural food for diabetes
Good for vision
With good source of antioxidant vitamin A and Vitamin E, they help in improving our vision and prevent damage of cells in eyes due to oxidative stress of free radicals which may lead to macular degeneration or cataracts.
Where to buy taro root?
Where can I buy taro root? Just make a trip to nearby local Asian market. You ought to find this root vegetable. Taro corms are usually imported from Pacific islands in USA and available at many non Asian stores as well.
Taro root recipes
Taro roots can be used as substitute to potatoes. So if you are worried about how to cook taro root, then you can use all cooking methods which are deployed for potatoes. Taro corms should not be eaten raw and should always be cooked (boiled/steame/fried) before eating. Dried Taro root powder is also used as gluten free starch powder in food. Across globe recipes with taro root are plenty:
- Fritters or steamed taro in Karnataka
- Taro root chutney with coconut or taro root sambhar in Kerala
- Chamagadda pulusu as a side dish with tamarind sauce in Andhra Pradesh
- Hawaiian Poi – fermented paste of ground kalo. Here is traditional Hawaiian poi recipe.
- Kaulau – a traditional Polynesian coconut pudding desert with boiled dasheen and coconut
- Cocoyam (Ede Ofe) paste – is taro root paste used in Nigeria generally made by pounding boiled eddo in mortar.
- Taro Root Cake (Woo Tul Gau or yam cake) is popular snack in Hong Kong. Find taro root cake recipe here. Also try out taro cheesecake recipe.
- Find taro root smoothie recipe
- Crispy taro pancake recipe
- Satoimo ice cream or taro root ice cream with coconut recipe here
- Baked taro chips – Looking for healthy alternative to potato chips? Try taro root chips. To make these gluten free chips, just slice peeled taro root in circles. Pre heat your oven at 230 degree Celsius. Place the slices in oven dish. Grease these slices with olive oil and sprinkles some Kosher or Hawaiian salt. Bake for 10-15 minuets till the tops are crisp. Flip and continue baking until other side is crisp too. These Hawaiian taro chips are good source of Vitamin E.
- Taro root tea: Peel taro root and grate it. Boil 1 cup of this grate with 3 cups of water, till water boils. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes in boiling water. Stir so that taro don’t stick and burn. When cooked, it would be somewhat transparent, strain taro and add a cup of milk. Blend this and taro milk tea is ready.
Other various cooking taro root recipes include preparations of burgers, bread, cakes, flakes, muffins, cookies and ice cream using taro root.
Side effects of Taro root
Poi is hyper-allergenic. Raw taro contains calcium oxalates. Cookinng them is best way to remove oxalates.