Pȟaŋǧí. Helianthus tuberosus. Sunchoke or Jerusalem Artichoke in English. It is a cousin to the sunflower. It is not remotely related to an artichoke, and does not look or taste anything like one, so I’m not sure how it got its English name. But its Lakota name, Pȟaŋǧí, has since lent itself to many other root vegetables that are newcomers to Lakota country, such as the pȟaŋǧí zizí (carrot — literally, yellow sunchoke), pȟaŋǧí háŋska (parsnip — literally, long sunchoke), pȟaŋǧí huthóškokpa (celery root/celeriac — hard to translate, but the “škokpa” part refers to the rounded shape), pȟaŋǧí pȟepȟé (radish — literally, prickly/thorny sunchoke), pȟaŋǧí šašá (beet –literally, red sunchoke), and pȟaŋǧíska (daikon radish –literally, white sunchoke).
Underground, underneath the tall and somewhat prickly flower stalks, a delicious tuber grows. These can be dug out of the ground either in the spring or the fall. While these are indigenous to the area, they can become invasive in a yard or similar area if not contained. These were planted in a garden bed in Fort Yates.
Here’s how they look when fresh out of the ground:
After washing, but before cleaning and cutting the non-edible parts:
Pȟaŋǧí can be eaten raw, and are delicious that way, with a crunch and a bit of a sunflower-seed hint to their flavor. But they can also be roasted like potatoes, for more of a caramelized, roasted-vegetable taste.
I chopped these into equal-size pieces, covered them in olive oil, and roasted them in a glass baking dish in the oven at about 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until they were just starting to caramelize. (The actual cooking time will depend on how thickly you cut them, and how much you have.) I finished them off with just a bit of salt. They are healthy, and a low glycemic index food. You can read more about the health benefits of pȟaŋǧí here and here. These are delicious, and I wish I had more!