Makhana also known as Phool Makhana is the Indian name for the popped water lily seeds. They are also known as fox nuts and often used to make delicious snacks, sweets and curries. In this post, I share 4 ways to prepare makhana snack – spicy, herbed, caramel and chivda.
Makhana are obtained from the seeds of the prickly water lily plants. These seeds are stored in the bulb of the flower, in the form of a prickly bundle. When ripe, this bundle bursts and the seeds are left to age in the pond.
Later the seeds are harvested, sun dried and later roasted at high heat to pop them. These pops are known as “MAKHANA”. They are light and crunchy but soften when exposed to air. So before consumption they are roasted again.
These crispy pops are generally seasoned with ground spices or added to a prepared sweet caramel syrup and roasted for a short time to get a delicious and addictive spicy or sweet snack.
Makhana Vs Lotus seeds
Makhana /fox nuts are often confused with lotus seeds, which are actually known as kamal gatta in India. To be clear – Makhana are not from Lotus seeds but they are from water lily seeds.
The real lotus seeds don’t pop like the water lily seeds.
While both are the seeds of the aquatic plants, Makhana come from water lily plants which belong to the Euryale ferox galisbury species and Lotus seeds come from the lotus plants which belong to Nelumbo nucifera gaertner species.
Kamal gatta (Lotus seeds) are used for medicinal purposes in Ayurveda and also for religious purposes during pooja, meditation and homa/ havan. It is also mentioned in a lot of Ayurveda books that lotus seeds were used as a cardio & nerve tonic.
Both, fresh and dried lotus seeds are eaten in various forms, in several Asian countries.
So if you are consuming makhana for the health benefits, thinking they are lotus seeds, please be aware the nutritional values and the health benefits of makhana may not be the same as lotus seeds.
Makhana is offered to the Hindu deities as prashad and eaten during fastings in various forms. They are also used to make kheer and roasted to be eaten as a snack.
My Makhana Recipes
Who doesn’t love tea-time snacking? These 4 variations are simply delicious and can be made under 7 to 10 minutes. For the spiced and herbed versions you may use chaat masala but I have used other spices here since we don’t prefer to consume sour ingredients with Chai or milk.
The spiced version is made without any oil or ghee. If you want you may add a tsp of ghee or oil for flavor.
Feel free to replace the spice combinations to your choice. For the sweet version, I use store-bought unrefined jaggery powder, you can also use regular jaggery (grated).
How to Make Masala Makhana (Stepwise Photos)
1. To a small bowl add
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ teaspoon garam masala (or chaat masala). Mix, taste test and adjust salt and spice to taste.
2. Be cautious here, too much water can make your makhana too soft. Carefully, pour ¾ to 1 tablespoon water in 2 batches to make a thick paste.
3. This is the consistency you want.
4. Add 2 to 2½ cups (35 to 40 grams) makhana to a pan. Drizzle half of this paste all over the makhana. It will fall in lumps, using both your hands rub the spice paste all over the makhana.
5. Add more paste as required to suit your taste. I use the entire paste. Repeat and rub the makhana until all of them are seasoned well. Toast them on a low to medium-low heat until they turn crisp and crunchy. If you want add 1 teaspoon ghee at this stage and roast for another 1 minute. I did not add.
6. Turn off and let cool in the pan itself. Perfectly roasted makhana breaks and becomes powdery upon crushing.
Herbed Makhana Snack (Stepwise Photos)
1. For this herbed version I’m using home-dried curry leaves. You can also use any other dried herbs like mint, moringa or coriander leaves or even store bought powder. To make your own in oven, you may check the recipe card of this homemade curry leaves powder.
2. Grind to a fine powder. Finer the better.
3. Add the following to the bowl:
- ½ tablespoon curry leaves powder (or moringa or mint leaves powder)
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or chaat masala)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (start with lesser)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper powder (more for heat, leave out for low heat)
4. Carefully pour water (1 tablespoon) only or as required, in 2 batches and make a thick paste. It should not be dry or runny.
5. Drizzle half of this on the makhana. Rub very well and add the rest. Rub again.
6. Toast them on a low to medium-low heat until almost crispy and crunchy. Make a space in the center and add 1 teaspoon ghee or oil and sprinkle another half tablespoon herb powder. Gently mix to coat the ghee and curry leaves all over the makhana.
7. They will begin to smell aromatic as they get crunchy. Turn off when they are crunchy. If you over roast, some of the curry leaves powder will fall off from the makhana.
Cool them completely and serve.
Sweet – Caramel Makhana (Stepwise Photos)
This recipe makes for a low sweet makhana. If you want them to be very sweet, use more jaggery. Store bought unrefined organic jaggery powder is best for these as they impart deeper caramel flavors than regular jaggery (because it is unrefined).
1. Dry roast 2 cups Makhana until crunchy and transfer to a tray to cool down. Meanwhile pour half tablespoon water and 6 tablespoons jaggery powder (¼ cup + 2 tablespoon). Adjust to taste. Also add ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder or vanilla extract (not essence).
2. Cook on a low heat, until you see the jaggery bubbling up. You won’t see a lot of bubbles since we are using very little water. If you overcook it will burn and taste bitter. Turn off the heat.
3. If you want add 1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts or sesame seeds or coconut flakes (not fresh). Also add the makhana. Quickly begin to coat them until most of the jaggery at the bottom coats them. Make a space in the center and add 1 teaspoon ghee. Stir well and roast just for a minute or 2 until the makhana are crunchy.
4. Leave the sweet makhana in the pan to cool down a bit, before serving.
Makhana Chivda (Stepwise Photos)
You can make makhana chivda with whole makhana or with sliced makhana. If you want to make it with whole makhana, roast them the same way as I showed the spiced version. Scroll down and make a tempering. Here I am showing my favorite way to make it.
1. Fit a slicing attachment blade to your food processer. I use the thicker blade (2.4 mm) to get thicker portions. It is the same blade we use to slice the onions in food processor. Pour 1 cup makhana each time and slice 2 cups makhana to make 4 cups sliced. You will get makhana bits of all sizes but don’t bother about that.
2. Add them to a pan (retain the powdery part in your jar) and sprinkle half of the the same paste we made for the spiced makhana. Rub them and add the rest and rub. Try not to add the paste in lumps. Also do not powder the makhana while you rub, handle gently.
3. Dry roast on a low to medium flame until crunchy. You need to keep stirring to crisp them evenly and this also prevents the smaller bits from burning. When they are almost, done add the powdery makhana (I get about 2 to 3 tbsps) and continue to toast until the smaller bits are crunchy. Turn off and leave them in the pan.
4. While you toast the makhana, make the tempering on another burner. Heat 1½ tablespoon oil in a pan. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons peanuts and fry them until golden but not fully done. Add 1 broken dried chili, 10 to 12 split cashews or 1 tablespoon roasted gram and 2 tablespoons sliced copra (dried coconut).
5. Move them to a side and add 3 crushed garlic cloves and 1 sprig curry leaves (pat dry). Fry all of them until the nuts, garlic and curry leaves become crisp. Turn off and add ¼ teaspoon red chili powder, 1/8 teaspoon turmeric and salt. We have already added salt and spice to the makhana so remember that and go with lesser spices here.
6. Add the crispy roasted makhana and mix well. Cool completely and serve.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
To make Masala Makhana
Sweet Makhana (Caramel Makhana)
- 2 cups (30 grams) makhana
- 5 to 6 tablespoons (¼ cup + 2 tablespoon) jaggery powder (store-bought powdered jaggery, adjust to taste)
- ½ tablespoon water (to melt jaggery)
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder (or vanilla extract, not essence)
- ½ to ¾ tablespoon ghee (or butter, optional, for flavor)
- 1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts (optional, or sesame seeds or coconut flakes)
How to make Masala Roasted Makhana
- To a small bowl add chili powder, salt, garlic powder, garam masala (or chaat masala). Taste test and adjust salt and spice to taste.
- Carefully, pour water in 2 batches to make a thick paste (not dry, not runny) of the spices. Check pictures in the post.
- Add your makhana to a pan. Drizzle half of this paste all over the makhana. It will fall in lumps, using both your hands rub the spice paste all over the makhana.
- Add more paste as required to suit your taste. Repeat rubbing the makhana until all of them are seasoned well.
- Toast them on a low to medium-low heat until they turn crisp and crunchy. If you want add ghee at this stage and roast for another 1 minute. Turn off and let cool in the pan itself.
Sweet Makhana with jaggery
- Dry roast makhana on a low to medium-low heat until crispy and crunchy. Turn off the stove. Transfer to a tray to cool down.
- Add jaggery, cardamom and water to the same wide pan and mix well until the jaggery dissolves.
- Cook on a low heat, until you see the jaggery bubbling up. There is very little water used, so you won't see a lot of bubbles.
- Add the crushed peanuts (sesame or coconut flakes) and the makhana. Quickly begin to coat the makhana until most of the jaggery stuck at the bottom coats them,
- Make a space in the center and add the ghee. Stir well and roast just for a minute or 2 until the makhana are crunchy.
- Leave the sweet makhana in the pan to cool down a bit, before serving.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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