16 February, 2014
Roasted Phool Makhana
Growing up, we have heard the expression “Dev Anand Jewel thief hai” many times. What could be the big deal, I often wondered. Dev Anand ( 60s Bollywood star ) is the Jewel thief, goes the simple translation. It was only in my teenage years, that my Mejo Kakima trusted me with the family secret.
Almost every summer my Jethamoshai paid us a visit. Always in a spotless white shirt and Dhoti, he frequently used his very stained handkerchief to wipe his nose. Inspite of cleaning the nose, there always used to be some snuff that lingered on top of his upper lip, giving the impression that he sported a funny moustache. I clearly remember the summer, when I was included in the “elite” group in the family. Mejo Kakima caught my attention, then moved her eyes towards Jethamoshai. Without saying a word the message was sent out , that the above story was about this man. I was so proud of myself then, that I was able to interpret this .
That Jethamoshai was thrifty was common knowledge. Popcorn was unheard of in movie theatres then. Peanuts roasted and dressed with lipsmacking spices used to be sold in paper cones. Costing not more than a few cents, people didn’t think twice about treating themselves with these snacks. Moong Phali, Moong Phali is all you heard during intermission. The story goes that Jethamosai went to theatres to watch the movie “Jewel Thief” once. The hawker tried his best to persuade my Jethamoshai to buy some peanut snacks.. It didn’t work. Jethamoshai did not budge. The hawker then decided to punish him. It was a thriller movie, the story had just climaxed, everybody was eager to know the end of the story. After all who could the Jewel thief be ? Just when you couldn’t leave your seat, and wished they wouldn’t even stop for intermission. Then, at that moment the hawker in a hushed voice spitted those few words “Dev Anand Jewel thief hai”, in my Jethamoshai’s ears and walked off. The smooth talking, lead actor with a boyish face, was in fact the thief. There….
Phool Makhana is not popcorn, neither is it sold in cinemas. It is in fact Lotus seed that when roasted, puffs up just like the popcorns do. It is also known as Foxnut or Euryale Ferox. With a few sprinkle of your favourite spices, you can have the same crunch with quite a few health benefits . An excellent source of protein and calcium, it is also known to restore the body’s vigour and delays aging.
If you are watching the Dufour-Lapointe sisters in the women’s Moguls skiing event in Sochi Olympics, or Deepika Padukone in the Filmfare awards, keep a few papercones filled with Phool makhana, within arm’s reach. You might even be looking for more.
Extra butter anybody?
Phool makana One packet 50 gms
Sea salt To taste
Turmeric powder One fourth tsp
Chilli powder One fourth tsp ( Use your discretion )
Cilantro One tsp finely chopped.
Ghee One tbsp
Chaat masala One fourth tsp
Lemon juice Half tsp ( optional )
Take ghee on a frying pan, on medium heat. When the ghee melts add the Phool makhana, saute on low to medium heat for about eight to ten minutes. Throw in the turmeric and chilli powder, sea salt. Put the gas off. Try a couple when its not too hot. It should be crunchy all through and not hard inside. If it still feels hard inside saute for a couple minutes more. Add the cilantro, chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon juice, if you prefer.
Make papercones and stuff these inside.
Jethamoshai Dad’s elder brother.
Mejo Kakima Dad’s second brother’s wife.
Phool makhana is available in Indian grocery stores.