sweet potato

The Sweet Potato Awareness month.

The musty moist kitchen of melumutta. Kittadoddamma, grinding the batter for “genasina podi” the next day. But right now what hidden in the red and amber flame that cooks the rice is the genasu, or the fiberous root sweet potato.

November is the sweet potato awareness month. This has brought back a lot of recipes that are placed between the pages sweet potatoof my rural childhood memories.

Genasina happala, or the papad made of sweet potato.

Genasu playa – which doubled as an evening snack is the seasoned sweet potato.

Genasu podi – or bhajiya’s made of sweet potato.

Finally the genasu chips.

Of course my mother’s cousin Raagini who is a wonderful cook, and loves experimenting did try something like mashing in some Maida, and milk powder and making gulab jamoon out of it, but we could not for the life of us, understand when boiled and salted  sweet potato was so delicious why would one waste time with cooking elaborate  dishes.

The Botanical name of the sweet potato is Ipomoea batatus, and belongs to the family canvolvucacea. It popular tuber grown for starchy food in tropical and sub tropical countries. In parts of India it is also known as sakharkanda

Sweet potato is rich in starch content and used after boiling, baking ad frying. It is also a source for industrial alcohol, and cheapest known source of calories.  It is also used to feed livestock.

Sweet potato requires 4-5 month of warm weather. And a temperature range between 21-27 centigrade and a well distributed rain fall of about 75 to 150 cm. It cannot stand frost or heavy rainfall. The soil is best loose and friable; it could be sandy loam or clay subsoil. The ideal Ph is 5.8 to 6.7.

The planting season in September- October cuttings from sprouts and 24-30 cams long vines are buried in the solid and middle and one node each is kept expired. In Karnataka we tend to grow the white ones, while in coastal Karnataka, like Maharashtra the pink skinned ones are also grown.  The strain varsha is suitable for the rainy season, while the strain Konkan Ashwini is dual season and high yielding variety. Sweet potato is harvested when the leaves turn yellow and begin to shed. The harvest is facilitated by irritating two to three days prior.

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