Synonyms: Dioscorea nummularifolia, Dioscorea
Common name :Ruiding
Local name: Taradee (तरडी)
Taradee is a very slender vine that grows wild, mostly in forests of mid-hill region of Western Himalayas. Though it is a very slender vine, which remains active only during the warm growing season, but it produces a long tuber, which is mucilaginous when raw, but looses its mucilage after it is boiled. Taradee tubers are usulally harvested around Shivratri festival in Mandi area of Himachal Pradesh, which falls during February – March. As the tubers have a tendency to go deep into the soil, so it is a quite laborious task to dig tardee root tubers. Probably that is the reason that it is sold at Mandi from 150 – 200 rupees a kilo.
Taradee is quite important food plant from economic point of view. Every year taradee tubers worth several lakh rupees are sold in the market. But surprisingly, this plant has remained unnoticed by botanists. I have not found its mention in any of the botanical floras and also encyclopedic works like CSIR’s “Wealth of India”. No botanical name seems to have been assigned to this food plant.
Taradi is a very slender climbing vine, about 5 mm thick and with heart shaped leaves. It grows on slopes under the trees in forests. Taradi plant prefers shady locations and loose soil rich in organic matter. The vines climb on small treeand bushes.
A vine of taradi
Taradi plants shed their leaves during winter and remain dormant. The growth starts again in March and continues till October. The vines flower during April-May. These bear small round, fruit like structures which are called tardoloo (तरडोलु) in local dialect.
Tardoloos are, however, not real fruits. When these structures are planted in the soil, new vines emerge from them. In fact, that is how new plants of taradi can be raised.
The edible portion of taradi vine is the underground flattened tuberous roots. Though the size and shape of the tubers vary with age and soil profile, mostly these are about 8 cm wide and 5 cm thick. The thickening of roots starts after about 50 cm from the ground level. The roots have a tendency to grow straight down into the soil and if not obstructed by rock or stone, can easily go 2 to 3 metres deep. Due to this habit, digging out taradi tubers is quite a laborious job and is the only cost involved.
Tardoloos borne by taradi vines which can can be sown for raising new plants.
The tubers are brittle milky white and a little slimy from inside. They are crisp and taste starchy when eaten raw. Cooked taradi is eaten or served as a phalahar (फलाहार)(non-cereal diet),during shivratri fast. Tubers are also picked to preserve for off season. Vegetable is also prepared like a potato vegetable in the following way.
Taradi tubers, 1 kg; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, ½ table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1/2 table spoon; red chillies; 2-3 medium sized chopped onions, 2-4; garlic, 4-5 cloves; ginger paste, ½ table spoon; 1 cup amount chopped green coriander leaves and salt according to taste.
For preparing sabji, the tubers are first boiled and brown peel is taken off. Then these are cut into small pieces and fried in hot oil along with spice listed before in sequence, as is done with potatoes. Garnish the recipe with chopped coriander leaves and serve with chapatis. The preparation tastes very good. If it is to be taken with rice, then add 4 cups of water and cook for 5 minutes to serve with rice.
To serve as non-cereal food during fasting, simply sauté boiled chopped tubers with coriander powder, red chillies and cumin seed in cow ghee. Then garnish with green chopped coriander leaves and serve.
Chopped taradi tubers, 1 kg; mustard oil, 1/2 liter; fenugreek powder, 3-4 table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon; turmeric powder, 1-3 table spoon; red chilies; 10-15; garlic, 250 g; grated ginger , 250 g; mustard seed powder, 3-4 table spoon and salt according to taste.
Wrap tubers in a rotten cloth to prepare a pauch. Boil this pauch containing tubers for 10-15 minutes by continuous rotating the pauch, so that all tubers get soft equally, Let them cool down and cut into small pieces. Dry tuber pieces in full sunlight for full day . Saute tubers in hot mustard oil along with spices listed above . Add mustard powder to make pickle sour, mix well and put in a ceramic jar. After 10 to 15 days pickle is ready to eat. It can be preserved for 2 to 3 years.
Tuber Tuber juice with hot water is given to treat fever, malaria, headache, and dysentery 1.
Taradi, an ignored food plant:
Surprisingly, taradi seems to have skipped the attention of botanists and farm scientists. Even the precise taxonomic status of this plant, which is a member of the genus Dioscorea of the botanical family Dioscoraceae, is not clear. Practically no study has ever been carried out on this valuable food plant. It does not find any mention even in the multi-volume encyclopaedic treatise published by the CSIR, The Wealth of India, which contains detailed information on almost every Indian plant. Some plant scientists call it Dioscorea alata, but they seem to do it for convenience sake. Morphologically, taradi plant do not match the description of Dioscorea alata given in floras.
High price commanded by taradi makes it a very ideal candidate for domestication and to be developed as a new commercial crop. Plants of taradi are very easy to raise by planting those fruit-like structures. The only problem is the tendency of the roots to grow downwards deep in to the soil. This can easily be curbed by growing these in large pots like old coal tar drums or by growing in 40 to 24 cm deep beds, lined with some hard material like cement concrete. This will stop the roots from going down and the digging of tubers will be easy.
A few taradi enthusiasts at Mandi have already managed to grow it by adopting this technique. The tubers are ready to be harvested after two years. The results of these persons have been quite encouraging.
Taradi vines have also been successfully raised at the Botanical Garden of IIT, Kamand, Mandi Himachal Pradesh. However, these vines are too young to be harvested yet.
Taradi tubers being sold at Mandi town.
- Srivastava R. C., Nyishi C. (2010). Traditional knowledge of Nyishi (Daffla) tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Indian J. Tradit. Know. 9, 26–37.