In the past few years, makhana or fox nut or lotus seeds have gained popularity as a go-to snack. It is said to come with a lot of health benefits — high in antioxidants, rich in micronutrients, and helpful in weight loss.
Bihar is the major producer of this superfood; reports state that it produces 90 per cent of the world’s production. The ‘Mithila Makhana’ was awarded the geographical indication (GI) tag by the government in August 2022 to help farmers.
Even though makhana is locally produced, these seeds are expensive — one kg costing anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 1500 — the reason being the difficulty in procuring these seeds.
According to makhana.org, the entire processing of this seed is a laborious process.
The first step is seed collection which requires skilled labour. Reports suggest that the harvest is done from 9 am to 4 pm by skilled farmers, who wade into the muddy ponds with long bamboo pools and collect the seeds from the bottom of the plants, which have spiky thorns.
The second step involves cleaning and storage. Once collected, the seeds are stored in a device called gaanja. After a two-step cleaning process, they are sun-dried for a couple of hours.
The third step all processed seeds undergo is grading. The seeds procured in different sizes are passed through 10 different sieves.
They are then heated in cast iron pans or earthen pitchers by placing them over a fire. Next, they are kept at ambient temperatures for three days, which is called tempering. After that, they are roasted and popped, polished, and finally packaged and ready for consumption.
Edited by Pranita Bhat