What is Makhana Made Of?
Makhana also known as Phool Makhana is a seed from a water plant grown mainly in India, China and Japan. It’s English name is Fox nut or Eurayle ferox and it is from a the water lily family. It is actually a seed and hence a pseudo cereal cultivated in stagnant wetlands. In northern India, Makhana is grown mainly in Bihar which has the perfect climate for its growth. Due to the method in which it is grown it does not require any pesticides and chemicals and hence it is naturally organic! The seeds from this water plant are roasted and puffed to create white, crunchy seeds of Makhana. For me, Makhana is a healthier form of popcorn and I love eating it as a mid-day snack!
Health Benefits of Makhana
100 grams of Makhana contains 10 grams of easily digestible Protein and 2 grams of Fat, 82 grams of carbohydrate out of which 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of Fibre.
- Its low in fat and high in protein and a good source of insoluble fibre.
- It also is naturally low in Sodium and high in Phosphorus and Magnesium.
- In India this is known as a ‘diet’ cereal and hence used as a healthy snack for weight loss.
- It has a lower GI of 44 in comparison to other carbohydrates like rice.
- It is good for those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- It is used in Chinese medicine to cleanse the spleen and kidneys.
- In Ayurveda it is considered to help virility in men and help in female infertility.
- It is an anti-inflammatory and hence fights early ageing through chronic inflammation.
- Its high level of nutrients means it is a helpful for women post pregnancy.
This is hence a low calorie, nutrition packed, filling seed which makes it perfect addition to your healthy diet. It is naturally gluten free, grain free and high in plant based nutrition and hence suitable for a gluten free, paleo and vegan diets.
How to Use Makhana?
In India it is used as Fasting food or Vrat ka Khana and is used during holy festivals where grains are not allowed to be consumed. It is used in curries, to make dairy based sweets, eaten plain, fried as a snack and even ground into flour to make flat breads. It is also given as offerings to Gods and deities during religious ceremonies. In bigger cities of India, Makhana is slowly being re-introduced as healthier snack and people are gradually becoming aware of this amazing cereal but its strong hold is in smaller towns and cities or Northern India. Since I am a city girl from the South of India, I was only introduced to this wonderful seed after getting married. My in-laws are native to Madhya Pradesh (close to Bihar) and Makhana is used regularly in their household. Though their version is usually laden with ghee and other fried items. I wanted to try my hand and experiment with healthier options of eating it like a snack and make it as one of my healthy Indian snack recipes.
My version is lightly baked in the oven and greased with a small amount of coconut oil. The coconut oil ensures that the spices and flavourings coats the makhana completely. I have created three nutritious flavour toppings which are sugar free and delicious. The first is a ‘cheesy’ one made with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a vegan cheese substitute and I find it lends a delicious cheesy flavour as well ensures a good source of plant based nutrition. The second is made with a mildly spicy version of Zatar and sesame seeds. Zatar is a Moroccan or North African spice blend and tastes delicious with Makhana. The third version is made hot with barbecue spice mix. All three are super tasty and packed with flavour. Choose your favourite topping or make all three, I seriously cannot decide which I like best! You can also use puffed sorghum, amaranth, brown rice or popcorn with these spice mixes if you cannot get your hands on Makhana. Though most Indian stores stock makhana and you can easily buy it online in the UK. This can be made into an easy paleo snack, a healthy snack at work or gluten free snacks for kids.
Do let me know if you decide to give this Indian based pseudo-cereal recipe a try and let me know how it turns out in the comments below. Share your images of your creations of my recipe on Instagram with the tag #meghnas or #meghnaskitchen!