I was shooting for a travel show in Kolkata recently when I came across a hawker selling peeled diced Shankhalu with black salt. The moment I got one for myself a small boy immediately stood next to me asking for a piece. The sight and situation took me back to when I had just returned to India in 2011 after a long stint in the States and was doing food trials with exotic ingredients, I grabbed a pack of jicama from a supermarket for a salad and introduced it as a south American tuber only to be received by giggles from a few of my staff telling me that they had been eating it ever since they were kids in Kolkata as Shankhalu. Jicama lost some charm there and left me with some questions that needed to be answered.
This conch (shankh) shaped potato (aloo) that was offered to Maa Saraswati on pooja is actually the only non poisonous part of the legume that developed poison as a means of survival, humans found out the trick soon .The question still remains how did it travel to the old world from the new. There’s a widely accepted theory that talks about the “Columbain Exchange” of crops; a trade that helped the Portuguese bring Chillies and the British bring potatoes to India, the Spanish however could only come as close as Philippines and from there it spread to south asia and Eastern India. That’s the travel, now for the benefits and the uses, this Mexican turnip is high in anti oxidants, vitamin C and minerals. It’s extremely beneficial for diabetics and weightwatchers.
Food business is full of surprises and fond memories. As much as Jicama humbled and surprised me with its “Indianness” in 2011, in 2014 it gave me fond memories of a great chirpy team that would just say how they felt and make each other better along the way.
½ cup overnight soaked and boiled soyabeans
1 cup juliennes of jicama
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp chopped dill leaves
¼ cup chopped coriander
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
½ cup curd
3 thin slices of cucumber
To prepare salad in a bowl add boiled soyabean, juliennes jicama , chopped red bell pepper, chopped dill leaves and mix well.
To prepare dressing in a blender add chopped coriander, oil, chopped garlic, curd and blend well.
Mix the dressing in the salad and add salt to it.
For plating make rolls of the cucumber slices. Stuff the prepared salad in the cucumber roll and keep the roll on the plate. Make such more cucumber rolls.