Phool Makhana

Nursing an Oktoberfest-induced hangover? Chowing down on this powerhouse snack may help get you through the day. 

What is it? Phool makhana – sometimes called euryale ferox or gorgon nuts – are the puffed seeds of the lotus flower, a water plant grown primarily in Asian countries. Seeds are harvested, cleaned and popped to make a snack that falls somewhere between popcorn and a larger version of those 1980s-era puffed rice cereals. Phool makhana is ultra-healthy, rich in antioxidants, magnesium and complex carbohydrates, as well as low in calories, sodium and fat. When you think about it, it’s a pretty perfect way to recover after, say, an “overindulgent” night out. Phool makhana can be easily found at most international grocery stores and Indian markets in particular.

What do I do with it? Simply roasting phool makhana in the oven or a skillet and tossing it in olive oil or butter and salt will land you a brilliant go-to snack. If you’re interested in taking it beyond snack territory, think of it like tofu: a blank canvas for flavor that adds welcome texture to dishes. Roast and add to curries and soups; the puffs will morph from crisp to pleasantly chewy and hold their own, even in liquid. It’s often used in versions of kheer, an Asian rice pudding. Instead of granola, try it crisped over yogurt with honey, nuts and fruit for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Get to know (and love) phool makhana: Roast and toss it in either of the spice mixes featured here.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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