Family:  Dioscoreaceae

Synonyms:  Tamus nepalensis, Dioscorea nepalensis

Common Name: Nepal Yam 

Local Name: Singali- mingali (सिंगली- मींगली)

Singali- mingali is aherbaceous perennial climber commonly found scattered in shrubberies from 1500- 3000 m altitudinal range in Western Himalaya. It grows as a vine that climb & supports itself by twining around the branches of other plants

It can grow easily in a well-drained fertile sunny to light shady habitat. Singali- mingali propagate by means of small bulbils ortubercles which are produced in the leaf axils of the stems.

 Underground singali- mingali tubers are edible and eaten boiled or cooked. These are slightly bitter in taste, so need to be thoroughly cooked before consuming. Tubers are mainly cooked as vegetable & vegetable curry. Meshed tubers with spices can be used to stuff kachuri, parantha and siddu etc. Boiled sundried tuber can also be picked to ensure their edible use round the year. Tubers are medicinal and are the good source of diosgenin 1. Boiled tubers can be an excellent addition to the desserts, salad etc. Whole plant including above ground plant parts are used to make local alcoholic drink called dheli along with other medicinal herb and barley grain for local personal use.

Singali- mingali roots known to contain poisonous saponins, however its effect is neutralized after thorough washing and cooking. A soap is obtained from the tuberous roots for washing winter cloth & killing lice due to the presence of poisonous saponins in the root 1,2 .

 Singali- mingali is harvested from wild as a source of food, medicine and material for local personal use. Whole plant and tubers are sold commercially for medicinal use. It is grown in nurseries and garden for this purpose and sold by forest & herbal nurseries.

Singali- mingali grown in Devidarh
medicinal plant nursery of Forest Department

Singali- mingali Plant:

A perennial glabrous, twinning herbs, with tuberous roots upto 3 m tall.

Leaves are simple, alternate, long- petiolated variable, usually ovate- lanceolate,  5- 15 to 4- 10 cm, acuminate, base widely cordate, lobes rounded, sometimes dilated outwards.

Close-up of Singali- mingali leaf

Male spikes solitary, 7- 35 cm long. Female spikes 7.5 – 15 cm long, solitary.

Capsules 2- 2.5 cm long, broadly winged.

Seeds winged all round.

Singali- mingali tubers are best harvested after flowering & fruiting (May- September) generally from autumn to spring season of the year. As the tubers are over exploited for trade due to its edible and medicinal uses. This plant is already in endangered list category, so tubers need to be sustainably harvested on habitat rotation basis and plant should be cultivated on mass scale for its optimum utilization.

Edible Uses:

Singali- mingali is known more for its medicinal uses then its edible uses. People living in hills use whole plant including ariel plant parts for making local alcoholic drink dheli in combination with other herbs. Boiled tubers are used in preparing vegetable, vegetable curry and meshed tubers are used to stuff kachuri, parantha and siddu etc. Boiled sundried tuber can also be pickled to ensure their edible use round the year. Boiled tubers can be an excellent addition to the desserts, salad etc.

Singali- mingali vegetable:

Ingredients:

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

Method:

For preparing vegetable, 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 or curd and cook for another 5 minutes to serve with rice.

Bhalle:

Ingredients:

Tubers, 1 kg; mustard oil, 1/2 liter; fenugreek powder, 1/2 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, Chopped green coriander, tirmir (Zanthoxylum armatum), mint (Mentha piperita) and curry (Murraya koeingii) leaves, 2-3 cup amount and salt according to taste.

Method:

Boil tubers till they are soft. Mesh them manually and make paste of mashed tubers and spices listed above in same sequence Now make small round bread spread with a hole in center with this pastePut oil in a fry pan and deep fry these breads spread with hole called as bhalla traditionally. Repeat this process till whole paste is over. Bhalle are ready to serve as snack.

Singali-mingali Dahin Bhalle:

Ingredients:

Singali-mingali tubers bhalle, 7-10; curd, 1/2 kg, black pepper powder, 1/4 tea spoon; chopped green coriander leaves, 1 cup amount, salt according to taste.

Method:

Split bhalle into small pieces and dip into the curd. Add to it black pepper powder, chopped green coriander leaves and salt according to taste, Mix well and serve.

Kachuri:

Ingredient:

Tubers, 1 kg; wheat flour, 7-8 cup amount; yeast, 5-10 g; mustard oil, 1/2 liter; fenugreek powder, 1/2 table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1-3 table spoon; red chilies; 10-15; grated ginger , 250 g; , Chopped green coriander, tirmir (Zanthoxylum armatum), mint (Mentha piperita) and curry (Murraya koeingii) leaves, 2-3 cup amount and salt according to taste.

Method:

For preparing kachuri prepare dough of wheat, flour along with yeast. Allow to rest dough for 3-4 hour. Boil tubers till these are soft. Mesh boiled tubers manually and add spices listed above. Mix well into fine paste. Roll dough already made into small disc or round bread spread and stuff it with paste . Give a deep fry to the stuffed disc in hot mustered oil and take them out. Repeat this for whole dough and paste, now kachuri is ready to serve.

Parantha:

Ingredients:

Tubers, 1 kg; wheat flour, 7-8 cup amount; mustard oil, 1/2 liter; fenugreek powder, 1/2 table spoon; cumin seed, 1 tea spoon;  turmeric powder, 1-3 table spoon; red chilies; 250 g; grated ginger , 250 g; ajwain (caraway seeds), 1 tea spoon; Chopped green coriander and curry (Murraya koeingii) leaves, 2-3 cup amount and salt according to taste.

Method:

Boiled tubers are meshed manually. Mix meshed tubers well with spices and make fine paste. This paste is now stuffed into the wheat flour dough and made into breadspread. Put oil on tawa (Flat fry pan) and cook both sides of stuffed breadspread by putting some oil. Repeat this process till whole paste and dough is over. Serve hot with pickle/butter/curd/chutney.

Pickle:

Ingredients:

Chopped 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.

Method:

Wrap tubers in a cotten 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.

Local alcoholic drink:

Take 10-12 kg barley flour (Hordeum vulgare) and mix to it finally chopped whole singali – mingli plant and some other medicinal herbs of rainy season like Arisaema tortuosum tubers, Arisaema jacquemontii tubers, Angelica glauca, Selinum vaginatum etc. Mix all well and prepare dough. Now make small bread spread from this dough and place inside wooden blocks. Collect Cannabis sativa  green foliage and spread on floor of a dark room as a mat. Put all the wooden blocks containing bread spread over the Cannabis mat and also cover the bread spread   with cannabis leaves. Keep this setup for 12-15 days. Take out dry bread spread for further fermentation. Bread spread prepared like this can be used as small fragments for further fermentation and kept or preserved for rest of the year.

Now for fermentation take a large piece of bread spread, mix it with koda millet flour (Paspalum scrobiculatum) and water then place in a clay vessel. Air tight this setup and again place in dark room. After 30-45 days alcoholic beverage is ready to drink it can be used upto next six to eight months. 

Nutritional value of Yam, cooked, boiled, drained, or baked, without salt

Serving Size: 1 cup, cubes, 136 g

Water, 95.38 g; Energy,158 Kcal; Protein, 2.03g;Total Fat (lipid), 0.19 g; Ash, 1.03 g; Carbohydrate, 37.37 g; Total dietary Fiber, 5.3 g; Total Sugars, 0.67 g; Calcium, 19 mg; Iron, 0.71 mg; Magnesium, 24 mg; Phosphorus, 67 mg; Potassium, 911 mg; Sodium, 11 mg; Zinc, 0.27 mg; Copper, 0.207 mg; Manganese, 0.505 mg; Selenium, 1 µg; Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), 0.129 mg; Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), 0.038 mg; Vitamin B3 (Niacin), 0.751 mg; Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), 0.423 mg’ Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), 0.31 mg, Vitamin B9 (Folate)  22 µg,  Folate, food 22 µg, Folate, DEF 22 µg; Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid), 16.5 mg; Fat soluble Vitamins Vitamin A,  8 µg; Beta Carotene. 99 µg; Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), 0.46 mg; Vitamin K (phylloquinone), 3.1 µg 3.

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

Singali- mingali tubers are the source of ‘diosgenin’ a steroidal sapogenin, used as a starting material for oral contraceptive pills The roots of this species contain an average of 4.8% diosgenin 1. This is widely used in modern medicine in order to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. These are used as contraceptives and in the treatment of various disorders of the genitary organs as well as in a host of other diseases such as asthma and arthritis 4. The juice of the root tuber is taken in the evening in the treatment of roundworm5 . It is also used to alleviate constipation5. The roots of most, if not all, members of this genus, contains diosgenin 1,4.

The plant tubers are also believed to possess activities such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, stomachic and hypoglycemic activities 6, 7. In folk medicine, it is used to treat tumors, leprosy, gonorrhea, fever and inflamed hemorrhoids. Tubers and leaves are used for treating various health ailments. Leaves are used as a poultice for tumors and pimples and in bath water for soothing stings and skin irritations. Plant is helpful in treating swellings, sores, sore throats, hemorrhoids, diabetes. In Northern Bangladesh used to treat tumors and leprosy. Chinese use yams to cure diarrhea, poor appetite, coughs, asthma, diabetes, frequent urination and emotional instability. Tubers of Chinese yam possess allantoin that speeds up the healing process 3.

Other Uses:

Singali- mingali leaves are kept in winter cloth in hills of Western Himalaya to keep away insects. A soap is obtained from the tuber2. This soap is due to the presence of poisonous saponins in the root 1. Used for washing shawls and woolen cloth. The soap is also used as a body wash to kill lice 1,2.

Source of income:

Singali- mingali tubers are in great demand and sold at high price in market. Local people harvest tubers from forest and sell illegally, This practice has significantly decreased population of this plant from its natural habitat. To ensure its conservation and sustainable use forest department has initiated its cultivation in nurseries. Plant can also be grown and sold by private nurseries for commercial benefits. .

This References:

  1. Chopra, R. N., Nayar, S. L., & Chopra, I. C. (1956). Glossary of Indian medicinal plants (Vol. 1, pp. 138-139). New Delhi: Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.
  2. Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P. (1976). Forest Flora of Srinagar. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh.
  3. https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/yam/.
  4. Foster, S., & Duke, J. A. (1990). A field guide to medicinal plants: eastern and central North America. The Peterson field guide series (USA).
  5. Manandhar, N. P. (2002). Plants and people of Nepal. Timber press.
  6. Shui, G., & Leong, L. P. (2002). Separation and determination of organic acids and phenolic compounds in fruit juices and drinks by high-performance liquid chromatography. Journal of chromatography A, 977(1), 89-96.
  7. Maga, J. A., & Katz, I. (1978). Simple phenol and phenolic compounds in food flavor. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition, 10(4), 323-372.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *