Exotic Groceries

 

I enjoyed an excellent pizza the other day at Das Kino on Fletcher Gate. The topping of butternut squash and feta cheese got me thinking!

So many new vegetables have permeated our diet over the last few years. I was already familiar with butternut squash (which I use in soups, risottos or simply roasted) but there are many other imported vegetables that I am less familiar with.

In order to find out more I visited the newly opened Hafiz Grocers on Nottingham Road Basford, where Imtiaz (the manager) helpfully explained the other vegetables on display.

Cassava – a versatile root vegetable used as an alternative to the potato. It can be boiled, baked, steamed, grilled, fried, mashed or added to stews. Often served with meat, sprinkled with salt, pepper and lime juice. The root can also be made into a ground meal or flour by washing, peeling and grating it, and then pressing out the juice and drying it.

Cassava is used commercially in the production of tapioca.

Thankfully of all the vegetables on display only this one carries a health warning.

Cassava should not be eaten raw as it contains cyanide; so much so that can be poisonous if eaten raw. During the Spanish conquests in South America, the oppressed natives were known to commit suicide by eating raw cassava!

Eddo – a tropical vegetable developed as a crop in China and Japan and introduced from there to the West Indies where they are sometimes called Chinese eddoes

Used in the hearty soups or cooked with onion, garlic and chilli as a side dish often to accompany salted cod.

Chocho – a versatile crop of the cucumber family and known throughout the world. Normally cooked or fried in slices, but it can also be boiled, stuffed, mashed, baked, fried, or pickled. Both fruit and seed are rich in amino acids and vitamin C.

In Australia, there is an urban legend that McDonalds apple pies were made with it causing the company to reassure customers this was not the case.

The tubers of the plant are eaten like potatoes, while the shoots and leaves are often eaten in salads and stir fries, especially in Asia.

Sweet Potato

We are generally familiar with these as many restaurants serve them cut into wedges and baked into crispy fries, seasoned with paprika.

 

These are less starchy and contain more vitamin C than regular potatoes.

They can be baked whole (served with plain yoghurt and spring onion), mashed, chopped or roasted then stirred into curries or soup.

 

I forgot to mention one other thing on display that needs a health warning. To the left of the sweet potato were the scotch bonnet chilli peppers!

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