Arrowroot is also famous as ‘obedience plant’. Arrowroot is a kind of herb plant that is typically found in rainforests. West Indian edible starch obtained from rhizomes is also called arrowroot. Arrowroot is a term used for other kinds of starch as well. The procedure of making the starch powder from the plant involves washing and draining of the plant. The plant is then pureed with the use of mortars or blending machines. A milky liquid is thus obtained that is sieved to acquire a pure, insoluble wet starch. This wet starch is kept for drying and the resultant is the arrowroot powder. This powder is very fine and odorless. Arrowroot is widely used to make arrowroot recipes such as jellies, noodles and biscuits. Arrowroot dishes are fondly served in all kind of meals.
History of Arrowroot
The American archeologists found the earliest evidences of the cultivation of arrowroot dating back to 7,000 years ago. In Caribbean, the Arawak people used to eat arrowroot as a staple and the present name of the starch is derived from ‘aru aru’, the name in Caribbean language. In early times, arrowroot was highly used in papermaking, owing to its fine texture. The main cultivation of this starchy plant is found in West Indies along with Southeast Asia and parts of South and East Africa, though Florida is the place where plant is originally naturalized.
Culinary Uses of Arrowroot
Arrowroot is highly commercialized for cooking purposes. It is readily available in packaged form at any grocery store. Arrowroot powder is basically incorporated to make various kinds of biscuits, cakes, sauces, desserts and jellies. Arrowroot recipes are usually having smooth consistency and it is regarded as the preferred ingredient for making vegetarian dishes. Arrowroot dishes also include soups as arrowroot powder is fondly used to provide thickness to the soups and broth. Clear sauces can also be perfectly made with this starchy powder. Baked dishes are the addition to the list of arrowroot recipes due to the gluten-free character of the flour. Another most important use of arrowroot is to make noodles. It does not gel perfectly with dairy products and provides a very thin mixture. It is also recommended that arrowroot should be mixed with cold fluid before including in any hot liquid. It is a great substitute of cornstarch in most of the dishes. In the olden era, arrowroot boiled with water was regarded as a digestive food for infants but owing to its very little nutritive values, it is now not taken as a kid meal.
Popular Arrowroot Recipes
• Arrowroot chips – It is one of the most popular arrowroot recipes that are served at Chinese New Year.
• Arrowroot biscuit – This is highly popular in almost all cuisines as tea-time snacks.
• Beef Tea – Arrowroot is a prime ingredient in making tea flavored with beef extract. Arrowroot is basically added to provide thickness to the liquid. Bovril is the name of the meat extract that contains arrowroot in powder form.
• Veal broth – This is also one of the most popular arrowroot dishes, in which starch is incorporated to give little thickness and clarity.
Cuisines Commonly Making Arrowroot Dishes
Arrowroot is popularly used in British cuisine and their fondness for arrowroot can be seen by the arrowroot recipes made in their food. Puddings, cakes, jellies and almost all baked items make good use of arrowroot. In Korean as well as Vietnamese cuisine the main use of arrowroot is to make noodles. The starch is also added to broths and soups for thickness. Even fruit gels are commonly made with arrowroot. Even in Indian cuisine, arrowroot recipes are highly in demand. ‘Arrowroot halwa’ is one of the most popular South Indian arrowroot recipes. The powder mixed with cornstarch is mainly used as a coating for fried snacks such as potato fries, fried chicken and many more.
Preferred Methods of Cooking Arrowroot Recipes
• Baked – Arrowroot biscuits and cakes are usually made by baking method.
• Fried – Arrowroot is widely used to coat the food items for making fried snacks.
• Boiled – It is boiled in water with flavoring agents to make jellies and fruit gels. Arrowroot is also added in hot sauces to provide clarity and shimmer.
• Mixed – In soups and broths, arrowroot is added as a thickener.
Nutritive Value of Arrowroot
Arrowroot is basically a true form of starch. It contains very little traces of proteins and no vitamins are present in this starchy product. Very few carbohydrates are also found in arrowroot but arrowroot recipes are regarded as a source of energy. The gluten-free characteristic of arrowroot flour makes it an appropriate substitute of wheat flour. Some of the health benefits of arrowroot are as follows:
• Traditionally, arrowroot was used to treat gangrene.
• Arrowroot also acts as an effective antidote for preventing vegetable poisoning.
• Arrowroot recipes are highly effective in the proper regulation of bowel movement.
• Smallpox can also be treated by using arrowroot.
• Arrowroot jelly is widely used as a baby food.
Buying and Storing of Arrowroot
Arrowroot flour should not be purchased in bulk as there are chances of getting it rancid. Potato starch is widely used to be mixed in arrowroot powder. Hence care should be taken while buying the pure starch. Arrowroot should be stored in a cool, dry place in a tightly sealed container. Prepared arrowroot dishes can be stored in refrigerator. Freezing of arrowroot dishes is not recommended as it spoils the texture of the prepared dish.
Types of Arrowroot
Types or varieties of arrowroot depend upon the place where the plant is grown. Some of the popular varieties are as follows:
• True West Indian arrowroot – It is a highly fibrous variety and can be eaten as a whole. This is commonly used to make the popular arrowroot starch.
• Queensland arrowroot – It is also famous a purple arrowroot. This variety is mainly cultivated in Tropical America.
• East Indian arrowroot – Burma, Indonesia and even Malaysia make good use of this starch in making several arrowroot recipes.
Few other types are: Wild arrowroot, Brazilian arrowroot and Hawaii arrowroot.
• Arrowroot is also used as a treatment against spider bite.