lotus seeds

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Also Known As
Lotus nuts, Makhana.

Description

Lotus develops straight seed pods and each pod contains approximately 20 seeds that reach maturity within 40 days. Lotus seeds are nut like round to oval shaped seeds present in row within the dark green colored lotus seed head. They are green colored when fresh and turn cream to yellow color when dried. The shell becomes harder as much that it can be removed as a coating. The dried form is better available in markets comparatively. The seeds are extensively used in East Asian cuisine and as a medicine in China.

How to Select

Lotus seeds are not very commonly seen in Indian markets. They are available more in areas having lotus plantations. The dried ones are sold in packages in bulk and need to be soaked overnight before consumption, due to its hard textured shell. The two commercially available dried seeds are varied in color of the peel.

The Brown colored peel seeds are harvested when the seed head is fully ripe. The seeds shell must be cracked in to two halves in order to remove the bitter tasting germ. This is done at the time of harvesting.

The White peel seeds are harvested when the seed head is green and immature; but the seeds inside have ripened. Here the bitter tasting germ is removed using a hollow needle at the time of harvesting, though it may sometimes remain intact.

The Fresh Lotus seeds are green colored and sold intact with the rubbery dark green circular lotus seed coat. These can be eaten by breaking the individual seed out from the cone shaped head.

You can also buy the Crystallized lotus seeds. These are prepared by cooking the dried seeds in sugar syrup. These are consumed as a snack in itself by people in China.

Culinary uses

· Lotus seeds can be eaten raw either in fresh or in dried form.
· The most common use of the seed is in the form of lotus seed paste, which is used extensively in Chinese pastries.
· The paste is also used in Japanese cuisine, as an ingredient in cakes and other dessert items as a filling.
· You can try making sauces from its paste.
· A combination of red bean and lotus seed soup can be made by boiling them together for 1 ½ hours until both become tender and then adding sugar to taste.
· The seeds can be cooked in syrup and allowed to cool to obtain crystallized seeds. These can be had during teatime instead of nuts.
· Try making Cream Lotus seed soup by boiling lotus seeds with crushed pineapple and adding corn starch to thicken the puree.

How to Store

Lotus seeds are easy to store in their dried form. These can be packaged in plastic containers and store in a cool dry place. Tighten the lid when not in use. The fresh seeds can be kept in zip lock bags under refrigeration and maintain its freshness for more than a week. But it is recommended to use them at the earliest.

Health Benefits

· Lotus seed is consumed as a kind of health food, especially by Chinese people.
· The major nutrients present in lotus seeds include fats, proteins, some starches, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
· It is said to refresh our system by giving a calming effect. It is considered good for the heart meridians.
· They are sweet to neutral in nature. They are consumed to detoxify the spleen, reinforce the kidneys and nourish the blood.
· Due to its astringent property, it is relieves one from diarrhea and helps improve appetite.
· It can also treat insomnia, palpitations and irritability.




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