A variety of taro that is grown in the southern states. It is a high-starch tuber. Although acrid in the raw state, it has a nut-like flavor when cooked. Taro can be boiled, fried, baked, and used in soup.
Taro (/ˈtɑroʊ/) is a common name for the corms and tubers of several plants in the family Araceae (see Taro (disambiguation)). Of these, Colocasia esculenta is the most widely cultivated, and is the subject of this article. More specifically, this article describes the ‘dasheen’ form of taro; another variety is called eddoe.
The plant is inedible when raw and considered toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals, typically as raphides. The toxin is minimized by cooking, especially with a pinch of baking soda. It can also be reduced by steeping taro roots in cold water overnight. Calcium oxalate is highly insoluble and contributes to kidney stones. It has been recommended to take milk or other calcium rich foods with Taro. Taro leaves also must be handled with care due to toxicity of the leaves, but are completely safe after cooking.
Taro is native to southeast Asia. It is a perennial, tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible starchy corm, and as a leaf vegetable and is considered a staple in African, Oceanic and Asian cultures. It is believed to have been one of the earliest cultivated plants. Colocasia is thought to have originated in the Indo-Malayan region, perhaps in eastern India and Bangladesh, and spread eastward into Southeast Asia, eastern Asia, and the Pacific islands; westward to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean; and then southward and westward from there into East Africa and West Africa, from whence it spread to the Caribbean and Americas. It is known by many local names and often referred to as ‘elephant ears’ when grown as an ornamental plant.
Taro is called “dasheen”, in contrast to the smaller corms called “eddo” in the English speaking countries of the West Indies, and is cultivated and consumed as a staple crop in the region. In the Spanish speaking countries of the Spanish West Indies it is called ‘ñame;except in Puerto Rico, where it is called “malanga”, the Portuguese variant of which (inhame) is used in former Portuguese colonies where taro is still cultivated, including the Azores and Brazil.
In some countries, such as Trinidad & Tobago, the leaves of the Dasheen, or Taro, are most often pureed into a thick soup called callaloo. Callaloo is sometimes prepared with crab and crab legs in it, coconut milk, pumpkin and okra. It is usually served alongside rice.