Mashua is a tuber unlike any other. It is a vegetable that hasn’t gained much popularity over time. Mashua has been around for a very long time, historical references have dated the use of mashua as far back as 8000 years ago. This unusual root crop is special and we would be diving into information about it today.
A mashua tuber grows to be about 4 inches long, it has a glossy and waxy skin that makes cleaning all the dirt super easy. Mashua is beautiful to look at and is more interesting than other tubers of its size.
What does mashua taste like? Fresh mashua is crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. When eaten raw, mashua has a sour and bitter flavor that becomes mild when it is cooked. These flavors are accompanied by a spicy flavor that feels like a mashup on licorice, turnip, cabbage, and radish.
Mashua is mostly preferred when it is cooked instead of raw. Upon cooking, the texture is softer, with a consistency that is almost similar to mashed potatoes.
Mashua leaves are also edible and can be compared to mustard greens. This vegetable is not only a source of food to supplement the body and kill hunger. It also has medicinal properties that we would talk about before talking about the various ways it can be used in the dishes and recipes.
Nutritional Benefits of Mashua
There are plenty of medicinal properties that mashua possesses and they have been used in varying ways. Mashua is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
In the South American region it comes from, mashua serves medicinal purposes. It can be used as an infusion to get rid of problems that affect the urinary tract and kidneys. This infusion can be used to treat prostate inflammation in men.
In the Andean region, Ecuador and Bolivia, mashua is often thought of as an anti-aphrodisiac. Mashua reduces the amount of dihydrotestosterone and testosterone in the blood. This means that it would over time lower sexual libido. Because of this reason, mashua is infused into the diets of Inca warriors to help them have control over their sexual urges and prevent them from thinking about women. At least that’s what the stories say.
Mashua has modest amounts of Carotenes, Vitamin C, and some minerals. Some varieties of mashua have two times more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C is well known for immune-boosting capabilities. So, incorporating mashua into one’s diet could help keep everyday illnesses away and keep skin health at optimal conditions.
Culinary Uses of Mashua
Every part of mashua is edible. The leaves and flowers see usage in soups, stews, and salads. The culinary use of mashua is not limited to being eaten raw. Mashua is enjoyed better when it is cooked.
Mashua can be cooked in different ways, you can decide to bake, roast, fry, or boil. Outside cooking mashua, while it is still in its raw form, it can be sliced, diced, or chopped into tiny pieces to be enjoyed in salads to add a nice crunchy texture to the mix. It can also be mixed into coleslaw and enjoyed as it is.
Mashua is quite versatile, you can incorporate it into spicy Indian cuisines. It can also be boiled and added to soups and stews and even curry dishes. Cooking mashua is the most common way it is used in the kitchen. Mashua leaves and flowers, on the other hand, can be boiled and eaten as a one-of-a-kind dessert.
The leaves can be doused with honey and added to salads, or be used as a green wrap. In fatty meals like meat and chicken, mashua leaves can be boiled as a side dish and served to accompany such food items.
Mashua pairs well with other tubers like potatoes do well with spices like cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Lemon juice, tofu, pork, and beef are not exceptions. Mashua can also be used as a substitute in plenty of dishes.
Where is Mashua Grown? How Do You Procure It?
Mashua is native to Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. In Bolivia, it is known as isano. There are different variations of mashua and you can tell by their skin. You could have mashua with pale yellow skin, black or purple skin, or reddish skin. Mashua is available all year round, 6 to 8 months after planting, mashua is ready to be harvested.
Mashua thrives at altitudes of 2400 to 4000 meters above sea level. It is a very high-yielding plant. It has not gained much popularity because it is regarded as a food item that is meant for the poor, but this vegetable has a unique taste that is rare among tubers.
You can get mashua in the special section of stores or at farmers’ markets at a relatively affordable price. If you do not want to go through the stress of looking for too long, you can order online and have it shipped to your doorstep.
Facts You Don’t Know About Mashua
- Mashua is also known as Tropaeolum tuberosum.
- Mashua can be consumed fresh, or after it has been dried in the sun. The indigenous Inca people call the dry preparation of mashua Chuna. They purposely leave the tubers out in the sun for some days so that the sugar in them can concentrate and the tubers would be sweeter.
- In many markets, mashua is displayed together with other natural herbs and medicines instead of being sold as a food item.