What is Makhana (Fox Nuts) and Where Does it Come From?

   |  Updated: April 24, 2018 17:50 IST

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What is Makhana (Fox Nuts) and Where Does it Come From?
Highlights
  • Makhanas are also known as fox nuts, Euryale ferox, etc.
  • These seeds are often used in quite a few Indian sweets and savouries
  • Fox nuts or makhana are a part of the lotus flower
Growing up, I remember my mother roasting a bowlful of light-weighted makhanas in ghee, and then sprinkling a pinch of salt and serving us whenever the hunger pangs would kick in. The roasted makhanas made an amazing snack; they were light, crunchy and healthy. Makhanas are also known as fox nuts, Euryale ferox, lotus seeds, gorgon nuts and phool makhana. These seeds are often used in quite a few Indian sweets and savouries like kheer, raita or makhana curry, and are also eaten as an evening tea-time snack. Many people in different regions across the country use these seeds as an offering to the Gods, especially during Navratri. Do you know from where these nuts or seeds come from? We have the answer for you.

What is Makhana or Fox Nut and Where do they Come From?



Not many of us would have known that fox nuts or makhana are a part of the lotus flower. The flower that's known for its beauty has a lot to offer, including lotus seeds or makhana. Makhana is highly produced in the state of Bihar in India, Korea and Japan along with a few parts of eastern Russia.



How is Makhana Processed?



According to the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, the seeds are edible after being processed and are highly nutritious. The journal explains about the collection and harvest of makhanas by Mallah community in Bihar. Here's the complete process-

1. Collection



Makhana harvest is a laborious method and requires skilled labour. The harvest takes place during morning at about 10:00 am and continues till about 3:00 pm. It takes around four to five hours to collect seeds at a time from the bottom of the pond or river. In some communities, people fix a bamboo pole known as kaara in one place and cover it up. Farmers take a dip in the water, diverging into different directions, along with the long poles. They drag the seeds with the help of their palms and gather them to the base of bamboo pole. Collected seeds are washed and cleaned.

(Also read: 9 Health Benefits of Makhanas)

lotus seed makhanaLotus seeds: Makhana harvest is a laborious method and requires skilled labour


2. Cleaning and Storage



The day's collection is put into a crescent-shaped container called gaanja, which is then shaken and swung repeatedly by touching the water surface until all the seeds get cleaned. Clean seeds are then packed into small bags. The seeds are again put into a cylindrical container, and rolled on the ground so as to make their surface smooth. They bring the seeds to their huts and keep them overnight. The next day, female members spread the seeds over mats and let them dry for about two to three hours.



3. Gradation



All processed seeds are sieved for gradation. The process involves different sizes of makhanas to pass through different sieving devices known as jharna, rectangular iron plates. The process requires the makhanas to pass through 10 sieves. All graded seeds are stored separately.



4. Getting the White Puff



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As soon as the makhanas dry, they require frying or else they tend to get spoilt easily. After frying, these seeds are then preserved in a container made of long bamboo strips and plastered with cow dung. The upper portion of the container is shielded with a coarse cloth so as to maintain a certain temperature. After a few hours, they need to be fried again; the same process is followed and the fried makhanas are placed on a wooden plate once done.
 

makhanaLotus seeds: As soon as the makhanas dry, they require frying or else they tend to get spoilt easily
 
The fried nuts are left to cool off and then these seeds are manually cleaned until the white puff pops out of the black coloured seeds. It is ensured that no residue of the black seed is left on the doubly expanded white puff and kept in packets for selling them in the markets.

Now you know, these fluff balls are harvested after hard days' labour and need our attention. Here are some makhana recipes that you would love to try at home:
 

Chiraunji Makhane ki Kheer
Low Fat Makhana Kheer
Creamy Makhana and Mushroom
Makhana Chops
Kaju-Makhana Lajawab.
 

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