Knowing your Tropical Roots- A look at the roots

Thanks to the Heatlhy Darwin program (City of Darwin)- I am running another great cooking workshop this Sunday featuring our local Tropical roots- how to grow them and how to make them into delicious dishes.

Growing root crops is actually the ultimate cyclone kit, if all of our plants blow away, there will we a treasure trove of root vegetables remaining! Often thought of as really filling and plain, I will show some fresh alternatives to incorporate these roots into tasty, healthy every day dishes. This will include soups, salads and sweets and drinks.

The roots that we will look at that can be easily grown in any Darwin garden or bought from a farmer at a local market are Taro, Sweet Potato, Ginger, Turmeric, finger ginger, Jicama and Cassava.


We will also look at a couple of plants that are typically known for their root crop and look at how we can also use their leaves in cooking.

Here is a quick summary of the roots-

Manihot esculenta (Euphorbiaceae)


This roots crop is grown widely across the Tropics and a staple food in the Pacific Islands, Carribean Islands, Africa and parts of South America and SE Asia. It is originally thought to come from South America, where it was domesticated many thousands of years ago.

This plant grows easily from stem cuttings and its tender leaves can also be eaten. The plants need to be in the sun and have a moderate amount of water. They make an excellent all year round crop, but are especially good in the wet season (and as above make a great living cyclone kit). All plants of the plants do contain a small amount of cyanide which is why both the root and leaves need to be cooked- don’t panic whole nations eat this every day!

Cassava, as a starchy root, with quite a high content of Vitamin C, it is amazing in sweets and cakes, but also used in curries and even to mashed to make pies and be used where you would otherwise use potatoes. Favourite dishes are fried cassava chips and cassava in coconut milk. I love to make a salad that includes cooks and cooled cassava and a friend of mine makes a really amazing cassava gnocci!

Colocasia esculenta (Araceae)

Taro medium 

Ipomoea batatas  (Convolvulaceae).

sweet pot

IN the morning Glory family


Pachyrhizus erosus (Fabaceae)


Curcuma longa (Zingerberaceae)

 Turmeric board2


Alpinia officinarum (Zingerberaceae)


Boesenbergia rotunda (Zingerberaceae)

GINGER- common
Zingiber officinale (Zingerberaceae)







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