Taro is an Asian vegetable (originated in India) that has over the years gained acceptance not just outside Asia, but all over the world. Taro is not the sweetest vegetable around, yet it is highly consumed due to its versatility, and the enriching nutrients. More details on this later.
You might find yourself in a cooking situation that demands you quickly come up with an alternative to Taro. If not Taro, what else could it be? What else could possibly take its place?
What is the best substitute for taro root? The best substitute for Taro is yucca roots. They have similar texture, taste, and are equally as versatile.
An Overview of Taro Roots
Yes, Taro is a vegetable.
But it’s a root vegetable. In essence, it is a plant grown not primarily because of its leaves or petioles (the typical vegetables we know), but because of its edible corm (a round underground storage organ present in the roots). This puts Taro in the same class as potatoes.
Taro has a brown outer appearance, a white inside with a pure epicentre spanning its whole length. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants.
Wait a minute. Don’t you go thinking Taro is some far-fetched food. It is what is commonly referred to as cocoyam! Yes, ‘mini yam tubers’. There are high chances you might have had them in pepper soup before.
While Taro is edible, it must not be eaten raw. Raw Taro contains enzymes that can burn your mouth. Cooking, roasting, grilling, frying, or baking deactivate these enzymes.
Taro has amazing nutrients and health benefits. Here are some of the most pronounced ones:
- It is very rich in fiber and hence aids gut movement. It is also abundant in micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, to name a few.
- It is helpful in weight loss, and also helps to control blood sugar.
- It has anti-cancer properties.
- It protects from heart disease.
Like these are not enough, Taro is incredibly versatile and can be consumed many ways.
- Can be cut into thin slices and baked or fried. These are called taro chips.
- It can be steamed and mashed into a purple puree known as Hawaiian poi. It is usually eaten with meat.
- You can make taro buns. You do this by baking sweetened taro paste inside the dough. Common for dessert.
- There’s even taro tea! Taro tea is made from blended Taro. Because of its sweet undertone, Americans have also adopted its use in bubble tea.
- Or you can simply toss it in soups and sauces. This is one of the most common ways to enjoy it.
- In India, it is cubed and used in curries.
Why Replace Taro Roots?
- Preference: Remember we said Taro is only mildly sweet? People who have a sweet tooth and would like to have something sweeter need an alternative.
- Non-availability: What happens if you don’t find taro roots everywhere you look? What could you use instead?
Best Recommended Substitute for Taro Root: Yucca Roots
Commonly known as cassava, these will fit anywhere the taro roots will fit, and more. We have made them our number one recommendation because they’re also only mildly sweet, have the same texture, and are incredibly versatile.
Cassava is intensely dense and starchy. It has equally numerous uses, possibly even more than those of Taro and sweet potato combined.
Like Taro, cassava cannot be eaten raw. Its peels contain cyanide (and cyanide is a very deadly poison to the body system).
Once you get through the tough outer layer, cassava can be prepared in an unlimited number of ways, and incorporated into many dishes. Soups, fries, stewed on its own as cassava soup, pureed into cakes and desserts. n West Africa, cassava is peeled, dried, ground into powder, and prepared with hot water into Eba (a swallowable meal eaten with various soups). If you haven’t tried it, you should.
Overall, yucca is a perfect substitute. The only downside has to be that they are not nearly as common as they should be in stores.
Other Alternatives for Taro Root
Maybe these would have come in first if they weren’t as sweet as they are.
Sweet potatoes belong to the same class as taro roots. If you feel like taro root’s sweetness doesn’t cut it for you, substitute it with sweet potatoes.
The Japanese sweet potatoes are particularly similar to ‘cocoyam’ because of their rich and nutty flavor. Potatoes are also rich in fiber, and have most of the micronutrients that taro roots contain.
What can’t you use sweet potatoes for? From frying to baking to grilling to pressure cooking. They’re as versatile as versatile gets. There aren’t sweet potato teas, however, are there?
Like Taro, sweet potatoes are only edible when cooked. Don’t even try eating them raw. Sweet potatoes are also more readily available than taro roots.
This is a less popular alternative. Parsnip is closely related to the carrot and parsley family. It is the only substitute that can be eaten raw. It is very sweet (especially after winter).
They can be used in ways similar to carrots and taro roots, and they’re even sweeter when cooked. They can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried, grilled, or steamed. When added to soups and sauces, they are great flavor enhancers.
Like carrots, parsnips are orange and are particularly rich in vitamin C and fibers.