You will never need another snack… after fox nuts or makhana


You will never need another snack… after fox nuts or makhana

Packed with micronutrients, lotus seeds are eaten in China, India, Japan and Russia



Makhana or fox nuts
Makhana or fox nuts make for a nutritious low calorie snack for all Image Credit: Shutterstock

What if I could binge and not feel guilty about it, not have nightmares about my weighing scale crashing, or worry about not fitting into my favourite pair of pants - all this, while working from home, which as it is leaves me with very little scope to physically move around.

Luckily enough, there is a binge saviour. It comes from the marshy lands of an Eastern Indian state – Bihar and reaches nearly 90 per cent of the world population. Fox nut seeds or lotus seeds, popularly known as makhana in India, is the superfood everyone is munching about.

An entire community of farmers thrived in an otherwise flood prone state, because of this edible seed, which is derived from the lotus plant. These cream coloured, chewy seeds are packed with micronutrients.

Speaking to the Gulf News Food Team, Dubai-based nutritionist Veenisha Fatnani said: “Makhana or fox nuts are naturally gluten free. It’s different from other nut crops because they are aquatically grown. Also known as lotus seeds, they are a powerhouse of minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. It is known to decrease blood pressure because it is low in sodium and regulates blood sugar levels due to its low monosaturated fat content. For those looking for a healthy weight loss snack which is also filling, fox nuts are an ideal option.”

Where do they come from?

Lotus plants have black seeds, which are first left to dry and pounded to extract the white kernel inside it. After which they are either sun-dried, flavored or packaged as is, plain and simple. With an almost neutral flavour, these seeds taste best when roasted with clarified butter or ghee and sprinkled with black salt and pepper.

Supermarkets have seen a surge in demand for fox nut seeds, especially among millennials who are keen on moving to healthier lifestyle choices. To draw in more consumers, manufacturers have launched flavours like cheese, wasabi, tomato, peri-peri, chaat masala (South Asian tangy masala used for seasoning), caramel and more.

An unsalted 100 gram packet of fox nut seeds in the UAE costs anywhere between Dh 10 to 15. They first have to be roasted for a crunch, else they are typically chewy. It is a popular snack in India, especially for people who observe religious fasts during which they refrain from eating grains.

The growing popularity of Lotus seeds

Hollywood celebrities like Priyanka Chopra to Irish Chef Darina Allen, munch on this healthy snack. Indian Chef Manish Mehrotra’s restaurant - Indian Accent in New Delhi and New York, has makhana in dishes like the mixed vegetable tart and matar-makhana malai (recipe with fox nuts, cream and garden peas). Whereas Chef Vikas Khanna’s restaurant – Junoon in New York features nadru matar makhana (recipe with lotus root, garden peas and fox nuts).

From across the globe

Qian Shi is the Mandarin name for fox nuts and is a cultivated crop in China. It is extensively used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as herbal ingredient. According to Dr Liang Shuqi, TCM doctor of Natural Healing Acupuncture Medical Center based in Dubai, this seed has health benefits of invigorating the kidney, replenishing the spleen, and relieving diarrhea. 

It is widely produced within the area of Heilongjiang to Yunnan, Guangdong and their surrounding areas. Dr. Shuqi said: “Nowadays Qian Shi is cultivated and planted in the herbal nursery farms.”

In Russia, Korea and Japan, these edible seeds are known as ‘Gorgon Nut’ and ‘Euryale Ferox’ and are quite a rage. Indians prepare dishes like kheer (a type of sweet pudding) with it, use it in curries or simply as a snack.

Fatnani added: “Makhana is best roasted on the gas for two to three minutes with a pinch of salt and turmeric. It is good to include them in your diet if one is anaemic and it also has a high fibre content. A well portioned snack of makhana (28 grams) is less than a 100 calories.”

Makhana is best roasted on the gas for two to three minutes with a pinch of salt and turmeric. It is good to include them in your diet if one is anaemic and it also has a high fibre content. A well portioned snack of makhana (28 grams) is less than a 100 calories.

- Veenisha Fatnani, Nutrionist with New Country Healthcare, UAE

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