Its now the Navratri festival season and a great time for shopkeepers stocking on dry fruits. For a nine-day period, millions of North Indians will substitute their normal carb-diet of wheat (and a bit of rice), and instead, consume lots of eatables that fall in under the category of fruits & nuts.
One of the popular dry-fruits is something called "Makhana". It looks like pop-corn that decided to 'pop' in perfect rounds and ovals, but costs much more - about Rs.600 a kilogram.
So what really is Makhana?
Surprisingly, it turns out to be seeds of a plant that belongs to the water-lily family: Euryale ferox.
Apparently it is called Makhana because most of it comes from Makhan - another name for the Mithila region of Bihar. The state accounts for 80 percent of Makhana production, of which about 40 percent of production goes to the start industry while the rest is consumed as food, mainly during 'socio-religions' occasions.
According to a newspaper report, Makhana has 'an annual average production of 50,000 tonnes and an estimated market of Rs. 500 crore ($ 1 billion) per annum, India exports Makhana to West Asia, the United States and some European countries. It is an excellent organic food with great medicinal value. It's seed is analgesic with aphrodisiac properties. In the northeast , unripe Makhana fruit is used as a vegetable'.
REFERENCES / LINKS
* Parsai, Gargi (2012): NOW YOU CAN GROW MAKHANA IN LOW FARMLAND, The Hindu, 23 Jan., 2012, url - http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2823325.ece
* ToI (2004): MAKHANA ON WAY TO EUROPE, Times of Indi, url - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2004-10-30/patna/27167847_1_madhubani-farmers-project-report