The dasheen (La racine Madère)

In Guadeloupe Archipelago, we are lucky enough to enjoy a wide range of root vegetables as many people have them right into their gardens. During my childhood, I always ate root vegetables at least twice a week, not only because my mum loved to cook them but also because my grandfather was a farmer and used to give us lots of fruits and vegetables. Today, we are going to learn a bit more about dasheen which is called “Madère” in Guadeloupe Archipelago.

Origin & Description

Even though the dasheen is nowadays cultivated all around the world, it is native to Malaysia and is considered as one of the first plants in human history. This tropical plant grows best in marshy, wet soil and warm humid climates. This large perennial herbaceous plant can reach up to 6 feet. The dasheen is composed of 2 parts which are the edible corm and the leaves. The corms have globular or oblong shape with brown fibrous skin and weigh between 2 to 4 pounds. Inside the flesh is white to cream-yellow, depending on the species but when it gets boiled it turns grey with a similar flavour to chestnut.

Inside white flesh
Dasheens with white flesh inside

Culinary use

In Guadeloupe Archipelago, we usually boil the dasheen and serve it with freshly sliced onion, some avocado, some salt fish or with some fish “court-bouillon” with a bit of hot chilli pepper. Some people enjoy it with some poultry or meat. Other than the basic way, you can cook it as the same as you will for potatoes which means as a gratin, soufflé, mashed or by doing some chips. We are also using the leaves to make some “Callaloo” dishes especially the crab Callaloo ( Calalou de crabes) which is a typical Easter dish.

Cooked dasheen
Boiled dasheens (the flesh turns grey)

Nutrient content and Health benefits

The dasheen contains a large amount of vitamins B (Folate, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamine), vitamins E and vitamins C as well as important minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.

With all of these vitamins and minerals the health benefits of the dasheen are quite effective. Indeed, it can help to improve skin health, lower blood sugar levels, boost vision health and blood circulation, prevent heart disease, bloating, cramping and constipation and strengthen the immune system while supporting muscle and nerves health.

Dasheens are part of the everyday food in Guadeloupe Archipelago; don’t miss this yummy root vegetable when visiting. Don’t forget, the French name in Guadeloupe Archipelago is “Madère”. However, if you visit our sister island “Martinique”, it will be less complicated as it is the same name “Dachine”.

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