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Purple Yam: The Show Stopper of Tuber Mela; an Excellent Source of Antioxidants and Nutrients

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Dioscorea alata, also known as purple yam, ube, or greater yam,). With its origins in the Asian tropical countries D. alata has been known to humans since ancient times. Purple yam is an important crop in tropical countries of Asia and particularly in Philippines where it is used invariably in various cuisines and desserts both traditional and modern. In other places, the usage is reduced as the different varieties of sweet potato have been introduced

A Deep purple in colour when cut and commonly confused with purple/violet varieties of sweet potatoes due to their similarities in color, taste, and culinary uses, Purple yams have more starch content and more moisture content than sweet potatoes.

Purple yams have edible tubers which have a mild sweet, earthy and nutty taste. It is an excellent source of anthocyanins. The Excellent Purple colour gives natural colour to food. They are used for making an array of recipes all over the World. They are also valued for the starch that can be processed from them. Purple yams are the major ingredient for icecream, flavoured milk, cakes, desserts , jam, cookies and pastries. They can also be boiled and baked. Purple Yam desserts have more recently been travelling to all other countries under the Brand Filipino name "ube". It is particularly popular due to the striking violet-purple color it gives to desserts.

In India ,the Tribal regions of Karnataka, Maharashtra,Odisha and Kerala grow Purple Yam and several other varieties of Roots and Tubers. The Recent Tuber Mela at Mysuru brought to significant attention the role of  Roots and Tubers in food security, nutrition and climate change adaptation. There were atleast 120 tubers from the Kedaram Conservation Centre for Tubers from  Wayanad. The University of Horticulture Sciences, Bagalkot showcased tubers and roots on which it is conducting research. There were around 25 groups of Tribal Farmers from surrounding areas of Karnataka who brought in their Indigenous varieties of Roots and Tubers. Among the Exhibits was a 98 kg tuber cultivated by farmer Pandurang Ram Gwada from Joida, Uttara Kannada. The much cherished ones were the  Purple Yam, Green turmeric and  Black turmeric.

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