Sirukilangu, when directly translated from Tamil means “Small Tuber”. But it is generally called “Native potato” or “Chinese potato” and biology calls it as Plectranthus rotundifolius. Though it is called Chinese Potato, these edible tubers are available only in some regions of India, Malaysia, Srilanka, Indonesia and West Africa. Sirukilangu is overwhelmingly a subsistence crop, which means it is mostly grown by families to feed themselves. That’s why these are not available easily in markets and thus it becomes a rare gem. We even called this as “Indian Truffles” for this same reason!
The picture above shows Mayirkilangu (Literal translation “Hairy Tuber”) on left side and Sirukilangu on the right side. To clarify, both of them are totally different from Yam, Colacasia and Elephant Yam. In Tamilnadu, a southern state in India, Sirukilangu will be available mostly nearing Pongal festival, that is between December to February. It is highly seasonal and regional and hence it will not be easy to get usually.
The picture above is stir fry made with Mayirkilangu. It is almost similar to Sirukilangu but slightly different in taste and is slightly thicker too. The most important step in making dish with these tubers is cleaning them. It may seem obvious but is very important as it contains a lot of black sand when you buy from market. It is better to clean it well by rinsing in water two to three times.
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated to mark the onset of Spring season and hence it throws a huge importance on farmers, cattle, rice and vegetables. People celebrate by making sweet pongal (a dish) in traditional clay pot with fire made by firewoods. And, there will be a special vegetarian lunch that day with a lot of vegetables. Almost all households in southern districts of Tamilnadu will have Sirukilangu during Pongal lunch. Forget about Pongal festival celebrations, eating Sirukilangu Varuval itself is a celebration in itself.
Here we present you this awesome recipe video. For the benefit of most people, we have added English captions to all our videos. Please watch this video and let us know your feedback!
If we are given multiple choices and asked to select just one dish to eat, we would choose Sirukilangu Varuval if it was there in the list no matter what other choices are. Yes, it is precious!