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Yam Stir Fry (Chena Mezhukkupuratti)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... and time for yams! Clearly in it for the food...

We had a yam situation and I had to find a decent yam preparation so I harked back to the good ol' stir fry. This time I didn't want the added texture of toasted coconuts, a la carrot and beans thoran, so I decided to go the way of mezhukkupuratti.


Pronunciation: meh-ruh-guh-peh-ruh-thi

Yes, the name contains a lot of consonants, but I promise, the dish itself is a piece of cake (albeit savoury... and not a cake :P)! Fun fact, 'zh' in Malayalam in pronounced like the 'r' in 'royal' - you really rrrrrroll the R. Like the 'zh' in Alappuzha, the best place for a house boat trip! <3

This recipe I adapted from 'the cyber' as I've yet to ask my Valliammachi (paternal grandma) for her original recipe. Remember that yam situation (i.e. yam that needed to be cooked today... or not at all)? So, time was of the essence and Google was just a click away! Don't worry, once I get Valliammachi's recipe, I'll definitely be trying that recipe, and posting it up if possible!

That quick Google search showed A LOT of recipes to choose from. So, naturally, I chose a really simple one, and then adapted it to make it even simpler. Yay for simple recipes!

Chena (Elephant foot yam)

Before I get to the recipe, just a word of caution for those who've yet to cook with yams of any variety: it's a vegetable whose skin can make you itch! Its natural defense mechanism. So, either use gloves or coat your hands in oil (I used coconut oil). I made the mistake of only coating my hands and my forearm started to itch, so I'd recommend protection up to your elbows as a precautionary measure. Or, unlike me, don't throw caution to the wind and let the yam touch your forearms. Whatever works, really.

If you do happen to touch it, heat breaks down the compound causing the itchiness. So, basically, I just continued cooking and the heat from the dish helped that itchiness go away. Which also means, also taking caution to cook yam properly otherwise you'll end up having an itchy throat and tongue! Now onto the recipe that doesn't cause post-cooking itchiness! ;)

If I were in Kerala I'd have used elephant foot yam as that's the variety that grows in abundance there, but as I'm currently cooking in Hong Kong, I used Chinese yam for this recipe and it worked just as deliciously. :)

Cooking Aides

Just your regular medium sized frying pan and a good sharp knife (I've got a ceramic one that I'm loving!)



1. Dice the yam and finely chop onion.

2. Heat the coconut oil and splatter the mustard seeds. Then, add onions and saute till golden brown.

3. Reduce the flame, add coriander, chilli and turmeric powder. Mix for 2 minutes to introduce spices. Now, add yam, curry leaves and salt. Mix well. Reduce to low flame, add 1/2 cup water and cover for 12 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4. Remove lid, add pepper and cook 1-2 minutes to evaporate excess water. Stir occasionally, and taste for salt.

5. Serve :)

Note: Before cutting the yam, coat your hands in oil to prevent itchiness.

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