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Famine Foods
Compiled by Robert Freedman

DIOSCOREACEAE

The Yam family.

Dioscorea aculeata, Balb. ex Kunth.; Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.; L. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating. Vernacular name: Man -alu. Ref. BHARGAVA.

Dioscorea alata, L. India (Madras Presidency): cooked tubers eaten. Vernacular names - Tamil: Yams kalung. Telugu: Niluva pendalum. Ref. SHORTT.

Dioscorea anguina, Roxb. India: tuber eaten. Ref. WATT.

Dioscorea belophylla, Voigt. India (Garhwal Himalayas): tuber eaten after repeated boiling, washing, and baking. Ref. GUPTA.

Dioscorea bulbifera, R. Br.; L.; Russ. ex Wall. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): axillary tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating. Hawaii: aerial bulbs eaten. Handy states these are poisonous but is not familiar with detoxification or preparation techniques. Sturtevant records its use elsewhere, but does not refer to its toxicity. Vernacular names - Hawaiian: Ho. English: Air Potato. (India) Kumaon region, Western Himalayas: Genthi. Ref. BHARGAVA, HANDY, NEAL, STURTEVANT.

Dioscorea deltoidea, Wall. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating; (Garhwal Himalayas): tubers eaten after repeatedly boiling, washing and baking. Vernacular name: Gun. Ref. GUPTA, BHARGAVA.

Dioscorea dumetorum, Kunth. Gold Coast: used as a famine food. The tuber contains a water soluble toxicant, dioscorine, which is leached out. The tissue containing it is destroyed and the tuber is boiled, peeled, sliced, pounded, and steeped in running (preferably salt) water. This process requires about three days. Sometimes the leaching is accomplished by steeping in hot water; other times, the tubers are buried in black cotton soil [sic], known as Bardob, for three days, before being ground into flour and made into Kisra. The steeping is occasionally done in a mixture of water and cotton soil for three days. Sometimes, tamarind pods (Tamarindus indica, L. [CÆSALPINIACEAE]), and desert dates (Balanites aegyptiaca, Delile.; Betu. [BALANITACEAE]) are used as detoxicators. The flour made from the processed tubers is prepared into a porridge, sometimes eaten with sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum, L. [PEDALIACEAE]) or, into unleavened bread. The tubers may also be eaten whole. The seeds of this plant are also used for food and contain ca. 40% oil, but may also contain toxic components, since it is reported that they are sometimes steeped for three to four days, especially by the Doggosh people of the Shari and Chad area in north-central Africa, for whom the seeds form a principal part of the diet. The seeds are spread on roofs to dry before being eaten. Nigeria (Kano State, northern): tuber eaten. requires prolonged washing to remove toxin. Vernacular names - Gold Coast (Bedik): Ma -nyeny, E -dyeny. Nigeria (Hausa): Rogon biri. English: Cluster Yam. Ref. FERRYet al, IRVINE, MORTIMORE.

Dioscorea hirtiflora, Benth. in Hook. Sierra Leone; Nigeria (northern): eaten as a famine food. Method of preparation not given. Ref. IRVINE.

Dioscorea japonica, Thunb. China: tuber eaten. Vernacular name: Wild Yam. Ref. READ.

Dioscorea macroura, Harms. (syn. Dioscorea sansibarensis, Pax.; Dioscorea Welwitschii, Rendle.) Tropical Africa: eaten as a famine food. Contains a toxicant reportedly reacting several hours after ingestion. This yam is also cultivated by the Warenga people of Central Africa. Ref. IRVINE, UPHOF.

Dioscorea minutiflora, Eng. (syn. Dioscorea praehensilis, Benth. in Hook.) Gold Coast: eaten as a famine food. Nigeria (Kano State, northern): tuber eaten. Vernacular name - Gold Coast (Twi): Aha bayere. Nigeria (Hausa): Magoraza, Hazara (?). Ref. IRVINE, MORITMORE.

Dioscorea oppositifolia, Drege ex Presl.; L.; Roem. & Schult. India (Deccan): tuber eaten. Ref. WATT.

Dioscorea pentaphylla, L.; Wall. India (Bombay Presidency): leaves boiled and eaten. The tuber, which contains a toxic element, is dug from the ground. The rind is removed and the tuber is then cut into pieces and boiled. The pieces are then immersed or dipped in a running stream for one night. After leaching, it is again boiled - reportedy five or six times - and then eaten mixed with salt and spices. Other reports indicate the tuber is eaten after leaching overnight in a stream, but without further processing. An alternate process is recorded: the tuber is plunged into water for one night and one day, boiled five or six times, the rind removed, the tuber cut in half and then mixed with salt; (Deccan): leaves and flowers eaten; (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating; (Garhwal Himalayas): eaten after repeatedly being boiled, washed and baked. Hawaii: tuber steamed and eaten warm. Vernacular names - India: Bombay Presidency: Chai, Chavi. Baglan, Nasik district, Bombay Presidency: Alshi. Shahada, Khandesh district, Bombay Presidency: Kala kand. Shirpur, Khandesh district, Bombay Presidency: Jaglia che kand. Mandvi, Surat district, Bombay Presidency:Vaj no kand. Halwan, Nasik district, Bombay Presidency: Kadu kand. Kumaon region, Western Himalayas: Taigun,Takuli.. Western Rajasthan: Kanta -Alu. Hawaiian: Pi 'a. Ref. BHARGAVA, GAMMIE, GUPTA; GUPTA & KANODIA, HANDY, NEAL, WATT.

Dioscorea Preussii, Pax. Africa (central, tropical): tuber eaten in times of famine. Also cultivated by the Warenga people. Ref. IRVINE.

Dioscorea quinata, J. F. Gmel. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water and boiled, prior to eating. Vernacular names: Magiya, Munia. Ref. BHARGAVA.

Dioscorea saggitatta, Poir. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): axillary tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating. Vernacular name: Tarur. Ref. BHARGAVA.

Dioscorea sativa, L. India (Bombay Presidency): the toxic tuber is cut into pieces after boiling. These pieces are then leached in flowing water to remove the toxic element. An alternate process boils the pieces in several changes of fresh water. After neutralizing, the tuber may be mixed with konda, or some other flour, and then eaten. Other methods include toasting the tuber, after which it is eaten with whey. A further method has it cut into pieces, washed ca. ten times in water, and then seethed. The tubers may also be eaten whole or pounded into flour used in making bread. Vernacular names - Walore, Surat district, Bombay Presidency: Kadia kand, Mano kand. Dangs, Surat district, Bombay Presidency:Vaj kand. Taloda, Khandesh district, Bombay Presidency: Kadawa kand. Mandvi, Surat district, Bombay Presidency: Kedvo kand. Ref. GAMMIE.

Dioscorea schimperiana, Kunth. Kenya: root tubers eaten. Vernacular name - Kipsigis: Yagniat. Ref. KABUYE.

Dioscorea triphylla, Blanco.; Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.; L.; Herb.; Schimp. ex Kunth. India (Deccan): tubers eaten. Ref. WATT.

Dioscorea tuberosa, Vell. India (Garhwal Himalayas): tuber eaten after repeated boiling, washing and baking. Ref. GUPTA.

Dioscorea versicolor, Buch.-Ham. ex Wall. India (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): axillary tubers cut into pieces, steeped in water, and boiled prior to eating. Also used as food for invalids. Ref. BHARGAVA.


Last update Thursday, February 26, 1998 by aw