The waft of yam roast (Senaikizhangu and Karunaikizhangu in Tamil) afloat in the air would kindle anybody’s appetite. Crisp yam roast goes as a good accompaniment with all three courses of the South Indian meal (Sāmbhar, Rasam and Curd rice). Its tendency to retain its form longer and not become mushy quickly, makes it suitable to be one among the many vegetables used for Avial or Vegetable Stew. But, the yam dish which is most endearing to everybody is undoubtedly the roast.
The procedure to prepare the roast is elementary. Just clean the dirt on the peel by showing it under a stream of running water, slice off the rough peel, wash again to get rid of the remnants of dirt and cut into slices; coat the slices with a masala mix of turmeric, chili powder, ginger garlic paste, pepper powder, fennel seed powder, corn flour, salt and shallow fry them. Err… have you already sensed the bungling in the procedure? The critical pretreatment step of yam, which should have been flanked by cutting into slices and coating with the masala, is missing! This could be an unpardonable blunder. Treat yam just like any other vegetable, you would end up with an itchy tongue – Gosh! Of all parts, a tongue that is itchy – can’t even scratch. Sometimes it is an annoying itchy feeling and sometimes it is a pricking sensation, which is worse. Had been through this agonizing ordeal once, when a cook in all her ignorance prepared a colocasia curry (Sepangkizhangu in Tamil – another veggie that produces a similar after effect) without subjecting it to pretreatment. Guess I spent atleast an hour, gargling my mouth, eating spoons of sugar, to do away with that rankling sensation in the tongue. I do not want even my worst enemy to go through such a tormenting situation.
If you have observed your mom or granny prepare this tuber, you would have noticed how meticulously they go about taming the yam. After cutting the yam into slices, they soak them into a bowl of dilute tamarind extract or buttermilk and keep them aside for atleast half an hour. Then, they rinse the slices in water and continue with the rest of the preparation steps. What they attempt to do here is neutralize the fine calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) in the tuber that stab the sensitive tissues of the tongue, with an acid solution. Follow in their footsteps and don’t ever forget the neutralizing part. You could also half-cook the slices in boiling water with turmeric and salt, discard the water and proceed.
But, what to do, if somebody has skipped the taming step by mistake? Alleviate the itchiness or prickliness with these tips:
- Rub ice gently on the tongue;
- Slurp a tablespoon of honey;
- Eat ice-cream – a plain one without any topping;
- Gargle with buttermilk at regular intervals till the irritating sensation subsides; follow it up with an iced buttermilk drink to soothe the affected tongue;
- Worried about the itchiness of skin (contact dermatitis), some suffer on direct contact with the raw vegetable? Wear gloves or apply coconut oil on hands before handling the raw vegetable.
Wish I had known these remedies, a few years ago. In case the itchiness persists despite following the tips, please do not ignore. Consult a doctor, right away.