The first time I had seen a pack of phool makhana in a supermarket my interest was piqued. They look very much like plain popcorn but are actually popped lotus seeds. I tried to look up online and most of the recipes used cashewnut paste. I wanted a recipe that would be healthy. So I thought, why not substitute phool makhana instead of paneer in a palak paneer recipe and thus the recipe of palak makhana came up.
Before we go, to the recipe, here are a few facts about phool makhana
- Phool makhana are popped lotus seeds that do not have a taste as such and take up the flavours of the gravy they are cooked in.
- Lotus seeds form an integral part of Chinese medicine and are used in various medicine preperations.
- Lotus seeds are considered to have good anti-aging properties.
- Pan frying these popped lotus seeds helps in bringing out their mild flavours. You can saute the seeds in some ghee, sprinkle some chilli powder and salt mix over it for a nice evening snack.
- You can find the “Phool Makhana” in most of the supermarkets in all big cities in India. If you are in US, most Indian/Asian stores will have these available.
Here’s my recipe for Palak Makhana:
Palak/spinach : 1 huge bunch. Discard the stems after seperating the leaves.
Phool makhana : 1 cup
Methi leaves/ fenugreek leaves – chopped : 1 cup
Garlic pods : 3 to 4
Green chillies : 4 to 5 or more as per taste
Coriander leaves : few chopped
1 small onion : finely chopped
1 small tomato : finely chopped
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Dhania(coriander seed) powder : 1/4 tsp
Jeera(cumin seed) powder : 1/4 tsp
Salt : as required.
Heat some ghee or oil+ghee in a frying pan. Add the phool makhana seeds to this oil and fry till the seeds change colour slightly. Place the seeds in a small cup and set aside.
Bring water to boil in a vessel or a pan. When the water starts to boil, add the spinach leaves to this. Allow to boil for a minute. Drain the water and run the leaves under some cold water. This process is called blanching. Once done, keep the leaves aside.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add the garlic pods and green chillies and fry for a couple of minutes till they change colour and blister. Add the chopped methi leaves and coriander leaves. Fry till they wilt slightly. To this add the blanched palak and cook for couple of more minutes. Turn the stove off and allow this mixture to cool down.
Grind this mixture in a food processor and set aside.
Heat some more oil in the same pan. Add the chopped onions once the oil is hot enough and fry them till translucent. Add the chopped tomoatoes and fry till they turn slightly soft. Add the dhania powder, jeera powder and turmeric and fry till the mixture starts emanating aroma. To this add the methi palak paste and cook till the mixture starts bubbling up. Add salt and chilli powder(optional) to taste.
Add the phool makhana seeds to this mixture and continue cooking on low heat for some more time. Once the phool makhana seeds turn slightly soft, you can turn off the heat and serve the curry.
- You can serve this dish with rotis, breads of your choice, plain rice or jeera rice.
- Phool makhana has anti-ageing properties and is a good source of minerals.
- Since we are blanching spinach and actually not overcooking it retains some of its nutritional value. Spinach and methi are a good source of Iron , various vitamins and minerals.