The great Kashmiri nut
It is slowly but inexorably spreading throughout the lakes of Kashmir valley.
ALI ABAS WANI
Come winter and you see markets with full of water chestnuts - a sweet and aromatic nut from Kashmir. Due to the sweet, tender and delicious taste, cooked water chestnut is one of the popular starchy desserts. Oxford dictionary defines ‘water chestnut’ as the crisp and white-fleshed tuber of tropical sedge used in oriental cookery. Water caltrop an aquatic plant with small white flowers produces an edible rounded seed with three large projecting horns known as water chestnut. Water chestnut (Trapa natans) locally known as Gaer is an aquatic angiospermic plant found commonly on the water surfaces of lakes and ponds. It is slowly but inexorably spreading throughout the lakes of Kashmir valley. Water chestnut kernel, triangular in shape, is covered with dark brown skin with small spikes at the top. The outer cover of the kernel is hard, making it difficult to peel off to obtain the white meat (edible portion) inside. Its main root system adheres in the muddy soils at the bottom of the pond and is connected with floating leaves by herbaceous stems in water body. In India it is grown mainly for human consumption either in the form of vegetable, dried to make flour to prepare flattened bread called chapatti or in the shape of sweet dishes in many kinds according to individual’s taste.
Importance of water chestnut in Kashmir dates back to times of Sir Walter Lawrence when the main crop of the valley was destroyed due to floods in 1893; the flour of Singhara (Water chestnut) saved people from starvation. Water chestnut is an important commodity in food industry because of its unique taste. In Kashmir it is mostly eaten like nuts, dry or roasted. The fruit is used as substitute for cereals in Indian subcontinent during fasting days. The fruits are usually eaten raw at tender stage and sometimes after boiling and roasting. It compares well with other foods and is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins and essential minerals. The dark brown corms (whole fruit) are peeled before cooking or canning.
The nuts are considered by the natives of Punjab and North-west to have a cooling effect and useful against bilious infections and diarrhoea. It has been possible to isolate gallic acid from the Singhara nuts, which is used for the preparation of medicines against stomach cancer. Ethanolic extract of nuts has anti-tumor activity. According to Unani system of medicine it is appetizer and useful in chronic fever, thirst, pain, sore-throat, biliousness, bronchitis etc.
Water chestnuts are known to possess a remarkable nutritional composition, which makes them an excellent food source that can be a dietary staple. For this reason, they are set apart from all the other nuts. The best part is that they are free of any cholesterol and are almost fat-free. They are also gluten-free. They have a white and crispy flesh and small, rounded corms that can also be eaten raw. Water chestnuts are a popular ingredient in the Chinese cuisine.
Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake in South Asia is the biggest producer of water chestnuts in the Himalayan state. Water chestnuts are cheaply available and can be promising with regards to the starch content and other nutrients. Efforts need to be taken to commercialize the extraction process and its sale in the market. Effective and judicious system will surely be a boon to the local populace engaged with the industry.
Khalid Gul is a Doctoral Fellow in Food Process Engineering and Dr Ali Abas Wani is Sr. Scientist at Centre for Life & Food Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Germany. Authors have inter alia researched on water chestnuts and have a couple of publications on possible applications of water chestnuts in food industry. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK WEEKEND
Govt To Act On Bedi Commission Report, Initiate Action Against Cops
Srinagar, Jan 4: Jammu and Kashmir Government is contemplating disciplinary action against the Crime Branch (CB) officials held guilty by Justice HS Bedi panel, the one-man Commission of Inquiry More
- Srinagar City
Seeks report from IGP Kashmir, SP, SHO Hazratbal
ASSAULT ON GK CORRESPONDENT
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Jan 4: Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday took strong note of assault on Greater Kashmir correspondent Imran Muzaffar by some policemen on Thursday and sought reports More
Jammu, Jan 4: A woman police constable allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan at her residence in Rajouri district, police said on Friday. The constable, identified as More
- South Asia
Karachi,Jan 4: The Siachen Glacier has been reduced by 5.9km in longitudinal extent between 1989 and 2009 because of rising temperatures, says a study published recently. Human presence at Siachen More
‘SUCCESSIVE REGIMES IGNORED US’
Waripora (Pattan) Jan 4: Inhabitants of Waripora Payeen in this north Kashmir area are up in arms against the non-availability of the basic amenities in the village. Located at the bank of Nallah More
Focus on the quality of education at the primary level to achieve better results
It is result time, pick up a morning newspaper and you will come across numerous ads carrying photographs of students who have passed their 10th class annual exam with good marks. The scores and names More