Kaavathu Poduthooval

A Traditional Kerala Recipe

A mini version of this post was featured in The Hindu Metro Plus South Edition on 28-Jun-2013. Will share the article from the paper in the next post.

Recently while gardening, my mom spotted something.... A plant which she was sure had a huge tuber inside that could be used as a vegetable for cooking, and ofcourse she was correct. 
The tuber inside is called the Kaavathu in Malayalam. Scientifically called Dioscorea alata. In English its called Greater Yam or Asiatic Yam. In Tamil its called Perumvalli Kizhangu or Vetrilai Kizhangu. The word Vetrilai means Betel leaves. Since the leaves of Kaavathu resemble Betel leaves, they're called Vetrilai Kizhangu in Tamil. 
Kaavathu, similar to other tubers, is majorly Carbohydrate. It can even grow really big. My mom has memories of seeing several 10 kg tubers stacked in some relatives houses in Kerala. Since its all carbohydrates and seen all over the place in Kerala, these replace rice many a times, and is used as staple food. Apart from Kaavathu, this traditional recipe here has Indian broad beans, coconut and some spices, all of which are easily available at everyone's garden in Kerala. Well, Kerala is the world's largest producer of coconut!!! This is consumed as it is by many, skipping rice. Esp., the poor for whom rice has to be purchased, whereas these ingredients are right from the garden!!!
So, over to the recipe from my mom....

Asiatic Yam - 1/2 kg
Indian broad beans - 200 gm
Coconut - 1
Green Chili - 2
Oil - 3 tsp
Salt - to taste
Mustard - for seasoning
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Water - 200 ml
Curry leaves.

Remove the skin andc hop the Kaavathu into rough cubes of about 1 inch.
Chop the Broad beans into 1/2 inch long slices. 
Break open the coconut and chip off the kernel (btw, keep a bowl below when you break open to save the tender coconut water. Its cooling, tasty and healthy as well!).
Slice green chilies into small pieces.
Grind coconut kernel and chili together and keep aside.
Place a vessel on the stove and pour the oil.
Once the oil is hot, splutter the mustard seeds and add the Kaavathu, broad beans and turmeric powder.
Pour water and close the lid and let it cook till tender.
After some time you may take out a bigger piece of Kaavathu and try to cut it with a spoon or knife without exerting too much pressure. If it slices into 2, smoothly, its cooked...

Add the coconut, chili mixture and mix well. Add salt to taste.
Garnish with curry leaves. Serve!!!


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. Yuumy it looks great :)

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  2. Interesting dish Bhusha. I loved the contents of that last paragraph. That would be one exciting feast!


    1. Oh I wish I really had a feast like that!!! :) :) :)

  3. Lived a long time in Kerala. Never heard of this tuber.

  4. Hmm looks so nice. I love Kerala style cooking! I get senakizhangu and seppakezhangu here...I am gonna try this out...

    1. I think with those too you can try out this recipe. Let me know how it turned out...


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