Would you not be curious to know about a delicious root tuber you can eat that will not only kill your hunger but also the creatures inside your tummy that can cause health problems? ‘Sohphlang’ is one uniquely Meghalayan tuber and late autumn to early spring is the season for its showing up in the markets of Shillong, Meghalaya.
This ‘Sohphlang’ is a semi-wild tuber famous among the local Khasi and Jaintia tribespeople. They consume it as a pastime snack either by itself, with salt and chilli flakes or with ground roasted perilla seeds (Perilla frutescens). They also use it (especially its peel) traditionally to expel parasitic worms from their intestines.
This humble root tuber is ready and simple to eat and has such amazingly phenomenal gut health benefits.
As you amble across the markets of Shillong beginning in late October you will not fail to notice mounds of the ubiquitous white tuberous fruit (or is it a vegetable?) on bamboo trays (called ‘pdung’ in Khasi) sold by small vendors, mostly women. They wrap them up for you in a natural wrapper - the eco-friendly ‘la-met’- leaves of Phrynium puvinerve, which grows aplenty in Meghalaya. Sometimes you see these women peddling these tubers in small, deep bamboo baskets or ‘shang’ at petrol pumps and bus stations. They sell them along with other wares such as orange and valencia fruit slices and ‘kwai’- the ubiquitous arecanut-betel leaf-lime combine that Khasis chew whole day long.
There is no English common name for this tuber though some people call them ‘earth-nuts’. Yes, they have a slightly nutty flavour but they are not nuts. The tuber’s Khasi name ‘Sohphlang’ literally means ‘grass fruit’ and its scientific name is Flemingia vestita, of the Fabaceae or legumes family. The part eaten is the chewy tuberous root which has a crunchy, juicy bite, giving out a milky liquid. The taste is rather bland and subtly sweetish.
Although seasonally popular in Meghalaya, its prevalence is definitely not restricted to this place. The tubers are also reportedly found in Yunnan province of China, in Nepal and some parts of Laos, Philippines and Vietnam. In Meghalaya, however, it is well-loved because of its unique flavour and hunger-killing capacity. Eat any amount without the fear of overstuffing.
Sohphlang may not win awards in a gourmet contest but coupled with roasted perilla seed paste (which also has medicinal value) it gives a distinct experience to the eater. A vendor selling Sohphlang. Notice the ‘La-met leaf wrap and the perilla seed paste on the left corner Zizira had earlier also brought to you a story and an Info-graphic on Sohphlang.
The best thing about Sohphlang perhaps is its anthelminthic or intestinal worm-killing capacity and soil-enriching property.
Besides phytochemicals, Sohphlang has high fibre content and is rich in protein and phosphorus. The fact that it also ready to eat makes it easy to comfort your grumbling tummy on the go! Sohphlang clearly has potential whether in raw form or value-added, i.e., dried and powdered. Its anthelminthic properties can prove to be invaluable as a naturally safe and inexpensive remedy for your gut parasite problems. As a ready food, it quickly staves off hunger pangs without the side effects, unlike those unhealthy so-called fast foods. In short, Sohphlang is a great health food and value for money!
At Zizira we are keenly aware of the problems that can overwhelm you. Therefore we are always on the trail to rediscover treasures of Nature known only to the indigenous peoples.
In this journey of rediscovery, the results are often astounding with so many benefits hidden in plain sight. We’ve packaged them with true value for you. Come rediscover with us and rejuvenate yourself!