Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal| South Indian Yam Mash

Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal is a delicious Tamilnadu-style side dish. It is made using small yams called ‘karunai kizhangu‘ in Tamil.

It is a very nutritious preparation, one that is very easy to put together. Today, I am sharing with you all our family recipe for Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal, the way we make it at home.

Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal, a delicious Tamilnadu dish

What is Karunai Kizhangu?

Karunai Kizhangu are small yams that are about the size of a fist. They are also called Pidi Karunai Kizhangu in Tamil because of their size (‘pidi‘ means ‘fist’ in the language). They are also referred to as ‘Yam Ordinary’.

I have seen many people refer to elephant-foot yams as Karunai Kizhangu in South India, which is wrong. Elephant-foot yams are ‘Senai Kizhangu‘, while the term ‘Karunai Kizhangu‘ refers to these smaller yams. Also, these yams are different from colocasia roots (i.e. ‘arbi‘ or ‘seppankizhangu’) – these are much less sticky.

Karunai Kizhangu or Yam Ordinary

Like the other varieties of yams, Karunai Kizhangu possess several health benefits. They aren’t very easy to come across in India, but you do find them sometimes in Bangalore and Chennai. I was lucky to find these yams recently at a vegetable store – for they are delicious and very versatile!

What goes into Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal

Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal is a heritage dish from Tamilnadu, a sort of mash made using small yams. It makes for a delicious side dish for rice with sambar and rasam, and also goes very well with vattalkozhambu.

This is a simple dish to prepare, needing just a few ingredients and little time and effort. The yams are boiled and mashed, then cooked with ingredients like green chillies, ginger, salt, lemon juice and fresh coconut. I also add in a dash of jaggery and red chilli powder for added flavour.

This Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. If you want to make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour and are, therefore, best avoided while following a gluten-free diet.

Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal recipe

Here is how to go about making it.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 5-6 medium-sized karunai kizhangu (yam ordinary)

2. 1 tablespoon oil

3. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

4. 2-3 green chillies

5. A sprig of fresh curry leaves

6. A 1-inch piece of ginger

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. Salt to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

11. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste (optional)

12. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut

13. Juice of 1/2 large lemon or to taste

14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves


Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right and bottom right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left: Step 5

1. Wash the yams well under running water, making sure to remove all traces of dirt from them. Then chop them into large pieces and place in a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover the yams completely.

2. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook for 3 whistles on high flame or till the yams are completely cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked yams out. Drain out all the water from them. Let the yam pieces cool down completely, then peel them.

4. Mash the yam roughly. Keep aside.

5. Now we will prep some of the ingredients needed to make the Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal. Peel the ginger and chop finely. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep the lemon and curry leaves ready.

Top left and right: Steps 6 and 7, Centre left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 10 and 11

6. Now, we will start preparing the Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Next add in the asafoetida, chopped ginger and green chillies, and the curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds.

7. Turn the flame down to low, and add in the mashed yams. Mix well.

8. Add salt and red chilli powder (if using) to taste, as well as the turmeric powder.

9. Also add in the jaggery powder, if using. Mix well. Cook on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes. Switch off gas when all the ingredients come together as a harmonious whole.

10. Add in the lemon juice.

11. Add in the grated coconut and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal is ready. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

1. It is purely optional to use the red chilli powder and jaggery powder. If the heat from the green chillies is enough, you can avoid the red chilli powder. The jaggery adds a beautiful flavour to the Masiyal, but it is not used traditionally. Skip it if you do not prefer using it.

2. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice you use as per personal taste preferences.

3. Elephant foot yam (senai kizhangu) and raw banana (vazhakkai) can be used to prepare Masiyal in the same way.

4. Make sure you keep the gas at low-medium flame, to prevent burning.

5. Sesame oil (nalla ennai) or coconut oil goes best in this Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!


12 thoughts on “Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal| South Indian Yam Mash

  1. Thanks for sharing this heritage dish from Tamil Nadu with us. This South Indian yam mash looks super tempting and oh so nutritious.


  2. Karunai Kizhangu Masiyal Looks incredible. Heritage recipes are always a keeper. Can use this as a stuff to make yam Paratha. Absolutely delish and Nutritious Priya.


  3. the masiyal looks fab! and am sure it tastes yum too! I have seen this veggie in the local kerala / mangalore stores here and now have ur recipe to work with !


  4. Karunai kizhangu masiyal is Vā€™s fav and we would buy KK from Bombay on our trips back as I had not seen it here..nw that I know it is available here, am deftly gonna source it and make it .


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