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Short yams are generally small, but widely vary in size and shape with the average tuber appearing somewhat oblong with rounded ends. The skin is very rough and fibrous with bumps and irregularities across the surface, making it difficult to peel and ranges in color from light to dark brown. Underneath the surface, the flesh ranges in color from white to yellow and is dense and starchy. When cooked, Short yams have a drier, flakier consistency and a very mild, earthy taste.
Short yams are available year-round.
Short yams, botanically a member of the Dioscorea genus, are small, edible underground tubers that grow from perennial herbaceous vines and belong to the Dioscoreaceae family. Growing in tropical and temperate climates around the world, Short yams are favored for their extended storage capabilities, filling nature, and versatility in culinary applications.
Short yams are an excellent source of fiber which can help cleanse the digestive system and are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. The tubers also contain phosphorus, magnesium, folate, thiamine, antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Short yams are toxic when raw and must be cooked prior to consumption. The small tubers are popularly boiled, deep-fried, roasted, grilled, and baked. In India, Short yams are thinly sliced and fried for a crispy, creamy side dish or are added to curries, soups, and stews. The tubers are also used as a vegetarian kabob, boiled and mashed with spices, pickled for extended use, or cooked into flavored rice dishes. Short yams pair well with onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, mustard powder, turmeric, coriander, green chiles, and yogurt. The tubers will keep up to two weeks when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
In India during Diwali, which is the festival of lights held in October or November each year, yams are used in traditional meals as a symbol of increasing and everlasting wealth. The tubers are typically cooked in jimikand, which is a rich, stew-like gravy and served with poori, or deep-fried dough puffs. The most commonly used yam in these traditional dishes is the elephant foot yam, but Short yams can also be used as a substitute. Yams are highly respected in Indian culture as the tubers can grow in harsh environments and store nutrients to survive. They are also sometimes linked with the goddess of wealth and have become a symbol of prosperity.
Yams are native to tropical and temperate regions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia and have been growing wild since ancient times. Considered to be one of the oldest cultivated tubers, yams were spread across the world via immigration, slave trade, and expeditions. Today Short yams are localized mainly to Southeast Asia and Asia, especially in India, and can be found at fresh local markets.