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Makhana is a nutritious dry fruit known as Fox Nut (Euryale ferox). It is a good source of carbohydrate, protein and minerals. Some researches has found, it is superior to other common dry fruits such as almond, walnut, cashew nut in terms of sugar, proteins, ascorbic acid and phenol content. It is good source of essential amino acids. In Ayurveda, Makhana is used to treat variety of diseases. It is given to treat beriberi, dysentery, debility and as a general health tonic. It improves fertility.
The botanical name of Makhana is Euryale ferox. It is commonly called Fox nut, Gorgon nut, Prickly water lily. It belongs to plant family Nymphaeaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Magnoliidae
- Order: Nymphaeales
- Family: Nymphaeaceae – Water-lily family
- Genus: Euryale Salisb. – euryale P
- Species: Euryale ferox Salisb. – euryale
Makhana is wrongly equated with Taalmakhana. Taalmakhana (Asteracantha longifolia), also known as Kokilaaksha, Kokilaakshi, Ikshura, Ikshuraka, Kaakekshu, Kshurak, Bhikshu belongs pant family Acanthaceae.
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: seeds
Plant type: aquatic.
Distribution: tropical and subtropical regions of south-east and East Asia. In India, it is extensively cultivated in Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur and Saharsa districts and partly in the Muzaffarpur, Champaran and Purnea districts.
Habitat: Shallow water bodies.
Makhana is an aquatic cash crop and in India, it is mainly cultivated in Bihar.
- Latin name: Euryale ferox
- English: Fox nut, Gorgon nut, Prickly water lily.
- Ayurvedic: Makhaann, Paaniyaphala,
- Padma-bijaabha, Ankalodya
- Unani: Makhaanaa
- Hindi: Makhana
- Bengali: Makhana
- Telugu: Mellunipadmamu
- Oriya: Kuntapadamu
How Makhana is Prepared from the seeds?
Euryale ferox is a stem less, prickly, aquatic herb. Its leaves are big, oblong, orbicular corrugated about 6-100 cm in diameter and floats like plate on water surface. The leaves are reddish green above, purple below. The leaves, fruits all are densely spinous. The flowers are solitary, submerged, and epigynous. Ovary is inferior, multi carpellary. It develops into a spongy berry like fruit which is densely prickly, the size of an orange, and contains 30-40 pea size seeds with hard black seed coat and a mucilaginous aril. The pulpy aril keeps the fruit floating for a few days. After this it finally settle down to the bottom.
The processing of Makhana involves following steps
Collecting the fruits: The sunken fruits are collected from the pond manually with the help of a horn shaped split bamboo contrivance and floating fruits are collected by nets.
Cleaning and Washing: These are cleaned and washed. They are thoroughly sun-dried in the morning between 8-11 am so that the moisture content reaches around 25-30 percent. Water is sprinkled to keep the seeds fresh and moisture content optimum.
Storage and grading: The seeds thus prepared are graded according to size and stored.
Preheating and tempering: The seeds of same size are heated with continuous stirring over fire for approximately 6 minutes followed by storing them in open baskets approximately for two days.
Roasting: These seeds are again heated in an open pan over fire.
Popping: When a crackling sound is heard 5-7 seeds are taken and kept on a hard surface. These are then hit with a wooden hammer. There is steam pressure inside the seed so hitting breaks the seed coat and the kernel pops out in expanded from.
Removal of seed coat and polishing: Seed coats are then removed manually. These popped kernels are known as Makhana.
These are polished by rubbing it against baskets made of bamboo splits without any delay to avoid absorption of moisture.
Grading and packing: Grading is done on the basis of size and whiteness. Popped, polished and graded product is finally packed in polyethylene or lined gunny bags.
Final product: The final product obtained by above is the dry fruit Makhana.
Makhana has high nutritional value. It contain higher amino acid (89-93%). The calorific value of raw Makhana is 362 kcal/100gm and 328 kcal/100gm for popped Makhana. It contains minerals (0.5%) with traces of carotene (1.4 mg). it is does not contain cholesterol.
The nutritional value of Makhana is given below (g/100g):
- Moisture: 12.8
- Carbohydrate: 76.9
- Proteins: 9.7
- Fat: 0.1
- Total minerals: 0.5
- Calcium: 0.02
- Phosphorus: 0.9
- Iron: 0.0014
Health Benefits of Makhana / Fox Nut
Makhana is a very nutritive dry fruit. It is a tonic and improves general health condition. It is rich in Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and used to treat nutritional disorder beriberi characterized by impairment of the nerves and heart.
Makhana / Fox nut / Euryale ferox / Gorgon nut, offers several health benefits and some of them are given below.
- It is low in fat (0.4 %) and does not cause gain in weight.
- It is a good source of carbohydrate, macro and micro-nutrients.
- It is rich in calcium (0.0344 to 0.0392 %) and phosphorus (0.0775 to 0.0899 %).
- It is rich in protein (11-12 %), calcium and minerals.
- It contains more essential amino acids than milk, mutton, or pulses.
- It is tonic for spleen.
- It helps in Vitamin B1 deficiency.
- It is cooling in nature.
- It is especially useful in vitiation of Pitta (bile disorders).
- It cures Pitta-vikar, Rakt-vikar, and burning sensation.
- It is Virya vardhak. It helps in spermatogenesis.
- It is given to treat Pradar, uterus weakness, impotency and sperm discharge.
- It improves chances of conception.
- Eating Makhana Post-delivery helps to cure weakness.
- Deficiency of various vitamins and mineral results in horrible nightmare. Makhana cures nightmares due to richness in B vitamin, macro and micronutrients.
- It is boon for reproductive health.
Makhana is alterative, antidiabetic, analgesic, aphrodisiac and astringent in action. It is useful in diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, female infertility, impotence, kidney disorders, leucorrhoea, and vaginal discharge. It is easy to digest and can be eaten by everyone. It can be enjoyed as fried salted snack (Namkeen), kheer or curry. Since they are cool in potency and increases Kapha / phlegm, so people with tendency for Kapha should take Makhana cautiously.