Let’s start with a quiz.
Q: How many edible parts does a lotus plant have?
There’s the stem which makes for a great snack.
Why, seeds, of course! And it can be a dessert. Believe me!
Makhana is a Lotus Seed in Hindi. These seeds are harvested from the Lotus plant and its relatives of the Nelumbo family. Also known as Fox Nuts, Makhane (plural) are the end product of drying lotus seeds which are puffy, light and almost papery on the surface.
In India and China they have been used forever for their medicinal properties. Growing up, my mother would make a savory dish with a tomato based curry using makhane and peas called Matar Makhane. It has been a favourite of mine. Until recently that was the only way I ever made makhane. And then I discovered the sweeter side of makhane in the form a kheer! If you have been on the blog before or seen our Instastories you know we love desserts and milk puddings at that. Kheer is basically a milk pudding made with a combination of either rice and milk, or broken cereal like semolina and rice. Similarly, mild flavoured makhane make for a great addition to a milk pudding.
So here goes.
Total Cooking Time ~ 1 hour
Inactive: 10 minutes, Active: 50 minutes
Serves 2 people
1/2 cup Makhane,
1 tbsp ghee,
2 green cardamom pods,
1 1/2 cups milk (part 2%, part whole milk),
3-4 tbsp sugar,
1/3 cup cashew nuts,
1/3 cup whole almonds,
1/3 cup golden raisins (you could also use black raisins),
4-5 strands of Saffron.
To begin, measure all ingredients.
Then put a heavy bottomed pan on the stove at medium high heat. To this add ghee and then add cardamom pods. I prefer to saute whole cardamom pods instead of powdered cardamom. Choose what you prefer. To powder cardamom open the pods and grind only the seeds within.
I prefer to saute makhane in ghee before cooking them in milk. Saute until makhane turn a light brown. Then add milk and bring to boil stirring constantly. Since there is ghee and high fat milk, it is very likely that milk will burn and form a layer on the bottom of the pan. To avoid this stirring is a must.
***For a reduced fat version skip sauteing makhane in ghee and just go on to boil them in milk. You can also replace whole milk with reduced fat milk.
After the first boil, reduce heat to a medium low and let the mix simmer for about 40 minutes, until makhane are soft and mash easily with back of the spoon. Stir at interval.
While the pudding cooks thus, do two things. First take a mortar and pestle and gently crush almonds and cashews.
I prefer this method instead of slicing dry fruits. This was one of my mother’s tricks. The advantage of this method is that cashews become fine and powdery and thicken the pudding. Also it gets easier to mix in the nuts and everyone gets an equal helping of all ingredients.
Secondly, wash the raisins and soak them in a cup of water while the pudding simmers.
Once makhane are cooked through, add sugar and mix well. Finally add crushed dry fruits and raisins – draining all the water.
Give the kheer a good stir, turn off the heat and let it cool down in a serving bowl. Top it off with a few strands of saffron. And voila, a delicious and nutritious dessert is ready!