“Cool down with Jicama”

Written by: Vogue India

Underrated yet over-achieving, Mexican and also Indian, jicama has more to it than its humble, earthy exterior. Nupur Sarvaiya traces its lineage and charts its nutritional information.
It’s not that Mona Sharma doesn’t love quintessential summer foods like coconut, cucumber and kokum—the kind we’ve cross-sectioned and incorporated into hot-weather dishes, in cookbooks, and on Instagram. She loves “everything that takes us back to the basics”. But Sharma, the Los Angeles-based holistic nutritionist and wellness educator, also wonders why unsung ingredients like jicama, which is native to central and south America, as well as part of our Indian culture and part of native cuisine in states such as West Bengal and Bihar, get othered by the more conventional or exotic options. “Jicama is a tuber vegetable with papery, brown skin and a starchy white interior,” she explains, while emphasizing, “appearances can be deceptive because taste-wise, jicama is a cross between a sweet potato and an apple.” 

 HUMBLE BEGINNINGS 

Pronounced hee-ka-ma and also known as yam bean, Mexican yam, shankhalu, kesaur or mishrikand, jicama originates from Mexico and was introduced to India as part of the Columbian Exchange. While we fetishized and disseminated other imports like chilli and potato, jicama was left out of the conversation. But Sharma didn’t wait to harness its health benefits, she launched a line of beverages called Xicama™, which delivers the immune-boosting paybacks of jicama.

 LINE OF DEFENCE 

Jicama is the unlikeliest hero your summer diet needs, as she reiterates, “It is a cooling vegetable. It’s loaded with water, and anything reeking in water content hydrates the system thoroughly. It is high in prebiotic fi bre, which feeds the friendly bugs in your gut. You can count on jicama for 44 per cent of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. And because it grows underground, it is loaded with minerals, calcium, folate, potassium and magnesium.”

 FOOD FOR THOUGHT  

Question is, how do you add jicama to your diet? “Call jicama the easiest swap for processed foods—one cup has only 49 calories,” says Sharma. Thanks to its innate crunch and sweetness, you can trade it for cookies and crackers. “Simply slice it up and eat it raw, or season with a spritz of lime and sea salt. During summer, sea salt can help regulate the electrolytes in your body. You can also shred jicama on top of salads, dals or khichdi,” Sharma quips. “Take half a cup of each of these ingredients: jicama, blueberries, almond milk and coconut water. Then, add two tablespoons of hemp seeds, a handful of spinach, ginger and one teaspoon of spirulina. Blend it all,” she shares, disclosing the smoothie recipe she whipped up for her clients Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith.