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Last Updated on June 13, 2023
Have you ever heard of malanga? I hadn’t until I started on the autoimmune protocol. I’ve become a fan of malanga because it makes a perfect potato substitute, especially if you have to avoid nightshades.
Malanga, also referred to as yautía or cocoyam is a tuber, which is a type of root vegetable that is a staple in Cuban cuisine, Caribbean cuisine, and dishes in South America, Africa, and other tropical areas.
This starchy vegetable makes a great nightshade-free potato substitute and can be used in a variety of recipes, such as mashed faux-tatoes, hashbrowns, stews, and my favorite – arepas.
You can download our handy printable list of nightshade foods for easy reference if you are avoiding nightshades.
Malanga is a tuber that is closely related to taro root. Shaped a bit like a potato; malanga can be long and skinny or fat and more round. It’s also has a brown and is a bit ugly, but trust me in this – it’s the best potato substitute.
Malanga cannot be eaten raw, it must be cooked , so you’ll need to peel the hairy skin and cook it up to enjoy it. Thankfully, there are many different malanga recipes for great ideas.
Malanga vs Potatoes
Potatoes are a part of the nightshade family, unlike malanga, which is in the same family as taro – Araceae. White sweet potatoes and other varieties are not nightshades though.
Malanga is higher in fiber than potatoes and and has more nutrients. It’s also low in fat and low on the glycemic index.
There are different types of malanga. Some varieties of malanga have white flesh, whereas others have more of a slight yellow color or a purple hue.
Types of Malanga
There are two main types of malanga; malanga blanca and malanga amarillo.
Malanga amarillo grows in damp, wet ground, and malanga blanca grows on normal land. There are some sub-types of malanga that you may find in an ethnic grocery store.
Malanga blanca is the most common type of malanga. Malanga lila has a slighlty pink hue to the flesh. You may also see malanga coco and malanga receta on the shelf. They are all similar in taste and can be used in various malanga recipes.
What Does Malanga Taste Like?
Malanga is very similar to the taste of potatoes, but it has a more nutty and earthy flavor.
How to Pick Malanga
You can find malanga in some grocery stores. When you are looking for the perfect malanga, choose the ones that are firm, free from soft spots and moldy areas (it’s quite common for malanga to have a bit of mold on the hairy exterior if it has sat too long).
Sometimes malanga has a fruity smell to it, but in my expereince that is when it has almost lived out its shelf-life.
Health Benefits of Malanga
Malanga is a complex carb with zero cholesterol that has a high fiber content and promotes good gut bacteria. It’s great to help ease constipation and balance your sugar levels.
Since malanga contains small starch granules, it’s super easy to digest, so it’s good for those who experience digestive issues.
Malanga contains a variety of different B vitamins, such as riboflavin and folate. It’s considered to be hypoallergenic, a great source for regulating blood pressure, and is a good food to eat for acid reflux.
How to Store Malanga
You can store malanga in a cool, dark place for a week or two, depending on how long it sat on the shelf before you brought it home. If you want it keep it fresh longer, you can also store in the crisper of the refrigerator.
When I started the AIP diet I had to make a ton of changes. Nightshades were the hardest things I had to let go. It didn’t take long before I discovered malanga and was dlighted that it worked great as a potato substitute.
Here are some great recipes that use malanga (#1 is my favorite, followed by #2).
1.) AIP Columbian Arepas
I first learned of malanga when making this recipe for AIP arepas that uses malanga. I was sold! You’ll need malanga, tapioca starch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and a flax egg to make it AIP compliant (I use a real egg since I can tolerate eggs).
Amanda suggests adding shredded carrots and I agree. I also add black pepper and some turmeric, but it’s delicious just as the recipe is written. These malanga arepas make a great side dish for any meal, especially breakfast. I enjoy them with bacon and eggs.
2.) AIP Malanga Hashbrowns
Hashbrowns are my second favorite way to cook malanga. To make malanga hashbrowns start by shredding the malanga using the fine shredder blades on a box grater. The finer shred makes the malanga cook better and tastier, in my opinion.
After peeling the malanga, wash it and then shred it and spread it on a plate so you can add seasoning and mix with a fork. Next, add sea salt and pepper and a little turmeric (optional) for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Add the grated malanga hashbrowns into a medium skillet with hot oil. I prefer to use avocado oil, but have also used olive oil and red palm oil as well. Cook it until all the sides are golden brown.
3.) Paleo Malanga Latkes
These malanga latkes are a nice twist on potato latkes. You’ll use simple ingredients like malanga, sea salt, fresh parsley, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, minced onion, and garlic.
You’ll mix it all together and form patties that you cook in a frying pan over medium heat.
4.) Malanga Mashed Faux-Tatoes
If you are nightshade-free or just looking for a healthier way to eat mashed potatoes, try malanga! This mashed malanga is a great substitute for mashed potatoes.
5.) Gluten-free Malanga Fritters
These malanga fritters are gluten-free and stay together with the addition of parmesan cheese. Frituras de malanga crisp up nicely and have a delicious flavor.
6.) Puerto Rican Sancocho (autoimmune paleo version; nightshade-free, grain-free)
Sancocho is a stew that’s loaded with root vegetables, meat, and all sorts of delisiousness. It uses malanga in place of potatoes to make it nightshade-free.
7.) Crema de Malanga (Creamy Malanga Soup)
If you are craving a creamy potato soup but you cannot eat potatoes, try this cream of malanga soup. This creamy soup is velvety-smooth and has a delicious flavor. I can see all sorts of variations for this soup in my head.
8.) Malanga Fufu
What’s exciting about this malanga fufu recipe is that it’s like a blank canvas that you can add to. You only need malanga, butter (or a vegan butter substitute), and salt to tase. There are some variation ideas listed out so you can make it to suit your taste.
9.) Garbanzo Stew with Malanga and Calabaza
This Garbanzo Stew with Malanga and Calabaza looks amazing. It does contain nighshades, so if you are on a nightshade-free diet, then this isn’t for you. It calls for malanga, ham, chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and more.
10.) Vegetable Soup with Yautia (Malanga), Yucca, Butternut Squash and Spinach
This vegetable soup uses malanga, but it will be listed out as yautia, which is the same thing. To keep it nightshade-free don’t add the cayenne.
11.) Yautia (Malanga) Carrot Soup
Keep reading for even more malanga recipes!
12.) Malanga in Garlic Mojo
This easy malanga recipe uses garlic, vinegar, oil, salt and white pepper. After you peel and cut the malanga you will boil it in a pot of water. While you are cooking the malanga you’ll make the garlic mojo.
13.) Root Vegetable Gratin
You can enjoy au grautin faux-tatoes when you use root vegetables! This creamy au gratin recipe uses root vegetables instead of regular potatoes.
14.) Mashed Malanga Root
This version of mashed malanga is blended with garlic, salt, and dairy and for an added twist, sauteed red onions.
15.) Nicaraguan “Rundown” Seafood Soup
If you are on a special diet like AIP, gluten-free, or dairy-free, this seafood soup is right up your alley! I cannot wait to try it. If you are strict AIP, just omit the black pepper.
16.) Malanga Chips
17.) Malanga Fries
To make malanga fries you will peel the malanga and then boil it whole until it’s just fork-tender. Next, cut into thick fries and fry it in a skillet with oil. Season as desired.
18.) Stuffed Malanga Cakes
19.) Malanga-Yam Pancakes
These savory malanga pancakes use malanga, yams, eggs, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt.
20.) Cuban Cream of Malanga Soup
This cream of malanga soup is a quick and easy soup that’s perfect for a cold day.
21.) Dominican Pork and Root Vegetable Stew
This hearty Dominican pork and root vegetable stew is loaded with flavor and uses pork shoulder, yuca, sweet potatoes, malanga, butternut squash, plantain, corn, onion, green pepper, red pepper, bone broth, garlic, and seasoned with oregano and kosher salt.
22.) Roasted Root Vegetables
Next time you make roasted root vegetables, why not add in some malanga? You can use any combination of root vegetables with this recipe. The seasonings used will bring out the natural sweetness from the root veggies.
Malanga isn’t a well-known root vegetable, but it’s a versatile one that can be used as a substitute for potatoes. It has a mild, earthy taste that lends itself to most any recipe that calls for potatoes. Malanga is a starchy root vegetable that is high in fiber and contains b vitamins. It’s also low in fat and low on the glycemic index.