Flavours from a flower

Flower with pink-coloured petals sitting amid a waxy green leaf, floating away in the pond as the sun shines on it the lotus is a beautiful picture in itself.

Published: 29th March 2021 05:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2021 05:45 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Flower with pink-coloured petals sitting amid a waxy green leaf, floating away in the pond as the sun shines on it the lotus is a beautiful picture in itself. But, there is more to the flower than symmettery a spiritual significance, symbol of purity and a host of healing properties it contains. The seed (makhana) and the root (kamal kakdi) of the lotus plant, cultivated in most parts of the world, are edible.

Known for its crunchy texture, water chestnut-like flavour with a slightly sweet taste, the lotus root (also called as lotus stem) can be eaten raw, stir-fried, braised or sautéed. The oval-shaped seeds are puffy in texture and a diabetic-friendly snack option.

They are staples in north India, especially Kashmir. But, that does not mean that the dwellers of south India have to miss out on its goodness! From cutlets to curries, Vaishali Vijaykumar brings you eight delectable recipes from five home chefs.

Lotus root kuzhambu by Mullai Madavan

Lotus root: 10, sliced
Onion: 1 cup, finely-chopped
Tomato: 1/2 cup, chopped
Garlic: 3 cloves, crushed
Green chilli: one, slit
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
Sugar or jaggery: 1/4 tsp
Mustard: 1/2 tsp
Cumin: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 6 leaves
Tamarind extract: 1/4 cup
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 11⁄2 tsp, Oil: 2 tbsp,
Water: 1 cup
Coriander leaves: 2 tsp
Any vegetable or seafood (optional): 1 cup

Boil lotus root over stove top in a pot of water for 20 to 25 minutes over medium flame. 
Heat oil in a saucepan and splutter mustard, cumin and curry leaves.
Sprinkle asafoetida powder and add chopped onions, green chilli and crushed fresh garlic.
Fry for five minutes over medium flame or until translucent.
Add chopped tomatoes, along with chopped lotus root.
Sauté for a couple of minutes in the onion-tomato mixture.
Add water and turmeric powder. Bring this to a boil, then cover and cook over low flame for 20 minutes or until the roots turn tender. (A knife inserted should pass through the root easily).
Once it cooks, add red chilli powder, coriander powder, sugar, tamarind extract and salt.
Cook this gravy base for 5 to 6 minutes and simmer for 10 or until the oil separates on top.
Garnish with coriander and curry leaves. Turn it off.
Serve lotus root kuzhambu over piping hot rice.

Hariyali lotus root by Roshni Kishore 

Lotus root: 1
Coriander leaves: 1 bunch
Fennel seeds: 1 tsp
Cumin: 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp
Green chillies: 4
Salt to taste 
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Chaat masala: 1/2 tsp

Peel the skin of the lotus root, wash and cut into thin slices.
Boil in a pressure cooker with one cup of water. 
Prepare the hariyali chutney with the rest of the ingredients.
Marinate the lotus stem with this masala for 10 minutes.
Heat ghee in a pan.
Add the lotus stem and hariyali chutney for a few minutes till it is dry and cooked.
Serve hot as a snack. 
You can also have it with tandoori roti.

Phool Makhana Poori by Dr Sarawathy Viswanathan

Wheat flour: 2 cups
Makhana flour: 1 cup
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Dry-roast makhana and grind it to a fine powder.
Mix wheat flour, makhana powder, salt and two tbsp of oil. Add water slowly and knead to a stiff dough.
Cover the dough and keep it aside for 10 to 15 minutes.Divide into equal portions.
Take a ball, roll it on an oiled surface till thin.
Drop rolled poori in oil. Press on top till puffy, flip over and cook.
Serve with potato masala or your favourite curry.

Lotus root and peas curry by Geeta Pal

Lotus root: 250 g, peeled and diced
Onion: 1, finely-chopped
Tomatoes: 2
Ginger and garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Green peas (frozen or boiled): 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Green chilli: 2 to 3, chopped
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 2 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Kasuri methi: 1 tsp
Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
Desi ghee: 1 tbsp
Fresh cream: 1 tbsp (for topping)

In a pressure cooker, heat ghee and add cumin seeds. Once the colour changes, add ginger, garlic, chopped chillies and onions. Sauté until onions turn golden brown.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato puree by boiling and blending them.
Once the onions are sautéed to golden brown, add all the spice powders except garam masala. Fry for a few seconds and, then, add tomato puree.
Let the puree cook until you see oil floating on the top. This is the time to add in diced lotus stem and green peas.
Cook them in the masala for 3-4 minutes. Add little water (ensure it doesn’t become like gravy) and close the lid.
Let them cook for around 2 to 3 whistles on slow flame. Ensure it is properly cooked but does not become lumpy.
Open the pressure cooker once all the pressure has released. The sabzi should be semi-dry.
Garnish with kasuri methi and garam masala. Serve hot with a dollop of fresh cream.

Lotus root cutlets by Geeta Pal

Lotus root: 1 cup, peeled, diced and boiled
Green peas:  1⁄2 cup
Boiled potato: 1 medium
Green chillies: 2 to 3
Onion: 2 tbsp, 
Gram flour: 1/8 cup
Corn flour: 1/8 cup
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp, 
Black pepper powder: 1 tsp
Cumin: 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/2-3/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil: 2 tbsp

If you are using fresh lotus root then peel, wash and dice the stem. Boil them until soft and tender.
If you are using frozen then thaw the stems. Coarse-grind them and set them aside.
Wash green peas. Parboil and grind into a coarse paste.
In a food processor or mixer toss all the ingredients (except potato and oil).
Pulse the ingredients a couple of times until it looks like a mixture.
Add mashed potato and adjust seasonings.
Check dough consistency and add gram flour and corn flour accordingly to ensure forming a smooth ball.
Shape it like cutlets.
Heat oil in a pan.
Cook the cutlets until crispy and evenly brown.
Serve them hot with pudina chutney and saunth.

Crispy chilli lotus root by Shikha

For the crispy lotus root
Cleaned lotus root: 200 g
Corn flour/ starch: 3 tbsp
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt and white pepper to taste 
For the chilli sauce
Vegetable oil: 1 tbsp
Ginger, garlic: 1 tbsp each
Green chillies: 1 tbsp
Celery: 1 tbsp, finely-chopped
Spring onion: ¼ cup
Onion: 1 small, finely-chopped
Green capsicum: ¼ cup 
Light and dark soy sauce, Sriracha sauce: 1 tbsp each
Tomato ketchup: 1 tsp
Spring onion greens: 2 tbsp
Corn flour slurry: 1 tbsp
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 
1 tsp
Rice vinegar: ¼  tsp
White pepper: ½ tsp
Salt to taste
For garnish
Fresh spring onion greens and sesame seeds

Peel the skin of the lotus root. Slice it diagonally into 0.5 cm thick slices and set it aside.
In a pan, add oil. Sauté ginger, garlic, green chillies, celery, spring onion whites and onions until fragrant. Add green capsicum. Cook until the vegetables start to wilt. 
Add light and dark soy sauce, sriracha sauce and ketchup. Sauté for another minute.
Add spring onion greens and season with salt and pepper.
Add the prepared cornflour slurry and rice vinegar. Cook until the mixture thickens.
Finish the sauce by adding Kashmiri red chilli powder. 
To the sliced lotus root, add three tablespoons of corn flour and season with salt and pepper. Mix to coat all the slices in corn flour.
Deep fry until golden brown. Once cooked, strain on tissue paper to remove excess oil.
Add the fried lotus root to the chilli sauce. Mix till it is coated with chilli sauce.
Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced spring onion greens, and serve hot.

Red Velvet Phool Makhana Payasam by Dr Saraswathy Viswanathan

Phool makhana (puffed lotus seeds): 1 cup
Milk: 2 cups
Sugar: 1/4 cup
Condensed milk: 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts: 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp
Red colouring agent: a few drops
Cocoa powder: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 1/2 tsp
Few fried cashews for garnishing

Heat a pan, pour ghee and roast makhana for two minutes.
Dry roast the cashews in the same pan and keep aside.
Crush half cup roasted makhana roughly with your hands. It will be crisp, so it is easy to crush.
Powder the remaining half of makhana with the roasted cashews finely.
Boil milk. Add makhana and sugar.
Add cocoa powder and red colour and mix well. Allow boiling for a few minutes.
Add the cashew makhana powder and mix well. Payasam will thicken.
Add condensed milk and vanilla essence at this stage and mix well.
Bring to boil for a few more seconds and switch off the flame.
Garnish with fried cashews and serve.

Lotus root dosa by Roshni Kishore 

Lotus root: 1
Green chillies: 2 
Chaat masala: 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Gram flour (besan): 1 cup
Coriander leaves: a handful, chopped
Mint leaves: a few chopped 
Garam masala: 1 tsp

Peel the skin of the lotus root, wash and cut into thin slices.
Boil in a pressure cooker with one cup of water. 
Grate it and mash it.
To this add the dry ingredients.  Add water as per dosa consistency.
Heat a tawa. Pour olive oil. Pour one ladleful of the batter.
Let it cook (on medium flame) and turn to another side.
Apply oil or ghee.
Serve hot with hariyali chutney.

Flower Power 
Dhanalakshmi R, dietician, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, throws light on the benefits of lotus stem and seeds.

Blood circulation
It gives you an energy boost as it regulates blood circulation. Proper circulation means all organs of the body are properly oxygenated. Lotus root is rich in copper and iron and stimulates the formation of red blood cells.

Regulates BP
Potassium, which is a vasodilator, helps maintain the fluids in our body and even counteracts the effects of sodium. Potassium also helps to keep the blood vessels relaxed and increases blood flow by reducing the rigidity and contraction of blood vessels. This reduces the pressure on the cardiovascular system.

Aids digestion
Lotus root has a good amount of dietary fibre and it adds bulk to the stool facilitating easy expulsion from the body. The rich fibre content also helps to release the gastric juices which help to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

Immunity booster
Lotus root is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. It acts against the free radicals in our body and thus protects us from various diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Mental health
Lotus root contains vitamin B complex and the pyridoxine in it regulates your mood and mental health by interacting with the neural receptors of the brain. 

Healthy heart
Potassium and dietary fibre help remove cholesterol from our blood. Pyridoxine controls the homocysteine levels in the blood and helps to keep our hearts healthy.

Breathe easy
It helps remove accumulated mucus and provides relief from cough. Lotus root juice also helps to treat illnesses like tuberculosis and asthma.


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