Information About Water Chestnuts
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Bat Nut Info: Learn About Water Caltrop Nuts
By Susan Albert, Freelance Garden Writer
Water caltrop nuts to some look like a flying bat and are not to be confused with the water chestnut. Click here for more info on bat nuts.
Water Chestnut Facts – Can You Grow Water Chestnuts In Gardens?
By Amy Grant
There are two plants referred to as water chestnut plants: Eleocharis dulcis and Trapa natans. One is invasive while the other may be grown and eaten in a number of Asian dishes and stir-fries. Learn more in this article.
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It is South Asian rice dish, made with layers of aromatic rice, meat, fried onions and yogurt and/or tomato. Ghee or oil is drizzled from topped and then the Biryani pot is sealed for steaming or ‘Dum’.
Biryani is so popular is South Asian communities that every region and every family have their own version.
Biryani needs a type of meat or main ingredient like chicken, mutton, lamb, beef, vegetable, fish , prawn, shrimps, meat balls (kofta), bone marrow (nalli) and more. Many Biryani are named after the main meat or vegetable used. Like mutton Biryani, Beef Biryani , fish Biryani, nalli Biryani etc.
Some Biryani are named after region in which it is developed like Sindhi Biryani, Bombay Biryani or Hyderabadi Biryani.
Few Biryani are named after spice blends used like Tikka biryani, Tandoori Biryani.
Other Biryani are named after techniques used to make like Dum Biryani (steaming), Potli biryani (spice bag).
My city ‘Karachi’ is famous for its Biryani throughout the world. Biryani is served here in almost every occasion. In fact, for most families Biryani is fixed on Friday Menu or at least Sunday. I can’t think of living without Biryani for more than 10 days. So that’s how dear Biryani is for Karachiites and me.
Difference in Pulao and Biryani
- Biryani rice are boiled first and then layered with meat, fried onions, stew etc.
- Meat and rice cooked seperately and them assembled together before dum. (i will explain ‘Dum’ later in the post.)
- Biryani has white and yellow rice grains.
- Some onions and korma gravy is also visible.
Pulao is completely different thing.
- Soaked rice are directly added to pulao pot along with cooked meat, gravy, water and everything cooks together.
- Pulao rice grains are all of same color. The color depend on spices and ingredients used.
Water Chestnuts – The French Alternative
Water Chestnuts – The French Alternative
Jackie French loves the crunchy texture and flavour of water chestnuts. However, they are high maintenance plants, which need at least eight months of frost-free growing. Duck potatoes are a great alternative for colder areas. They are easy to grow and they can be used in the same recipes as water chestnuts.
Growing water chestnuts
Water chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis) can be grown in a pond, an old bathtub or even a large waterproof bowl or bucket. Plant the corms in spring, about 5cm deep and 2 corms to the square metre. Keep the plants moist until they are about 10cm tall, then fill the container up with water until it’s about 7-10cm deep, with the tips of the leaves just showing. Leave the pot flooded at that depth for about seven months, then drain off the water in late autumn. Leave the soil moist but not wet for another month or so, then harvest the water chestnuts. Water chestnuts will grow in most areas of Australia, but they are frost tender and require at least an 8 month growing season.
Duck potatoes (Sagittaria sagittifolia) are also known as kuwai, arrowhead and sagittaria. Plant them in spring in a full sun position, either around the edges of your pond or dam, in pots in your pond (weighted down with rocks), or in a waterproof container. The corms should be 10cm apart and 4cm deep, with a covering of 10-30cm of water from the moment they’re planted. Harvest them in autumn, but keep a few corms to plant next spring. Duck potatoes will grow anywhere in Australia.
Unlike water chestnuts, duck potatoes must be cooked before being used in your stir-fry. Boil them for about 20 minutes, slice thinly and then stir-fry them.
Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Fountains, Statuary &/or Sundials’ for a water garden specialist. (Note: make sure your sagittaria are the duck potato edible ones.) You can buy both water chestnuts and sagittaria by mail-order from:
52 Crystal Waters via Maleny
Phone: (07) 5435 2699
See Jackie French’s article in the November edition of the Burke’s Backyard magazine, available at newsagents for $4.80.
For more information about growing tropical and subtropical crops see ‘Tropical Food Gardens: A guide to growing fruit, herbs and vegetables in tropical and subtropical climates’ by Leonie Norrington (Bloomings Books, $29.95).
Yacon has a crunchy texture, slightly reminiscent of water chestnuts, and a sweet flavour, so it's rather good simply peeled, sliced and eaten as a snack.
It's great in salads too, though its tendency to brown means that you should add it at the last minute, once everything else is assembled and ready to be dressed, or sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent it discolouring as it's peeled (and do peel it, the skin can be a little bitter).
Yacon also has a delightful tendency to absorb sauces and dressings, which make it a fantastic vehicle for other flavours. Try it grated with carrots in a mustardy vinaigrette with a handful of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, or in the traditional South American fruit salad, salpicón. Combine peeled, chopped yacon with chunks of pineapple, chopped papaya and mango and dress in freshly squeezed orange juice and a spritz of lemon.
You could also use yacon instead of apples in a Waldorf salad. Just peel and dice the yacon and toss it in lemon juice to stop it from going brown, then combine it in a bowl with chopped celery, some raisins and walnuts. Dress with mayonnaise thinned with a little sour cream and serve immediately on crisp lettuce leaves.
Yacon makes for a juicy, refreshing munch in the garden – just dug and brushed free of soil, or washed if you have water to hand. Otherwise get your tubers into the kitchen and try them with a little lemon juice and honey sprinkled over.
And don't waste an opportunity with the leaves – they make a delicious wrap, in much the same way as vine leaves or cabbage leaves do, for any number of fillings.
Chestnuts are available in a variety of forms: as whole fresh nuts either in shells or with the shell removed as a frozen nut peeled and ready to use as a canned nut, dried, peeled and roasted as a whole nut preserved in a sweet syrup known as candied Chestnuts or marrons glacés as a puree and as a paste. Chestnuts are also available ground into chestnut flour for baking, however the flour has a strong nutty flavor so it may be best to mix it with other varieties of flour for a milder tasting result. Chestnuts should not be consumed raw or fresh because of the tannic acid contained in each nut, which causes stomach discomfort. Roasting, braising or boiling the nuts is required to make the Chestnut edible. When selecting Chestnuts in the shell, choose those that are heavy for their weight, are glossy in appearance and are free of blemishes. There should be no musty or earthy mildew aroma coming from the Chestnuts, which would indicate they have been exposed to excessive moisture. Similarly, check the Chestnuts for a rattling of loose nuts in the shell or a cracking of the shell indicating they have dried out too much for consumption.
To store fresh Chestnuts, make sure they have been removed from their prickly casing and placed in a cool dry area away from excessive heat or moisture to be consumed within 6 to 8 days. Nuts still in the shell can be kept refrigerated and stored for 3 to 4 weeks in a loosely closed or perforated bag allowing only small amounts of air to circulate around the nuts to keep them from becoming damp or moldy. Nuts that have been shelled or cooked can be refrigerated or frozen. If refrigerated, use within several days or if frozen, consume within 7 to 9 months. Dried Chestnuts should be kept in an airtight container away from heat. Similar to other nuts, dried Chestnuts can be kept for several months at room temperatures or if frozen, they should be used within six months, being cautious not to expose them to excessive moisture. Fresh Chestnuts that have not been cooked can also be stored in the refrigerator, however they are best preserved if placed in dry sand or peat moss to seperate the nuts. Make sure the sand has been dried and contains a very low amount of moisture. Nuts are then best kept in a temperature range of 25ºF (-4ºC) to 30ºF (-1ºC).
To roast Chestnuts, begin by using a kitchen knife or a Chestnut knife or a slitting tool to score and cut the shell with either a straight slit or an "X" slit where it looks like the shell bulges outward. This will allow steam to be released rather than building up and exploding the shell as it roasts. Place the Chestnuts in a dish or pan that will allow the water to fully cover the chestnuts and let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour before roasting. Remove the nuts from the water and pat dry. If oven roasting, place the nuts in a roasting pan or baking sheet and roast at a temperature of 400º to 425ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until the shells begin to curl where they were slit-scored. If roasting on the stovetop or over coals, place the nuts in a Chestnut pan containing a bottom with open holes and use a low to medium heat setting if on a stovetop or place the pan approximately 6 inches above the heat if using coals. It is often suggested that the pan be covered, depending on the amount of heat applied to the roasting, but it may be a matter of preference depending on the procedure. When prepared over a stovetop or coals, heat for 10 to 20 minutes shaking the nuts occassionally to disperse the heat evenly, making sure that the Chestnuts don't burn. When finished roasting, allow the nuts to cool either openly or in an old towel. If wrapped in a towel, the protection of the cloth can be used to apply pressure to the shell so it cracks while the nut is hot. If necessary for removing the shell or if cooled without a towel, the nut can also be removed from the shell by making a single score/cut fully around the middle of the shell. Although the nut may stick to the skin, the moisture from soaking and the heat should have adequately separated the skin from the shell to remove the nut easily.
Braising Chestnuts (marrons braisés) is a common preparation method in France where the nuts accompany many poultry dishes. Use the same procedure for roasting when preparing the nuts, by scoring the outer shell with an "X". Place the nuts on a baking sheet or pan and bake at 400ºF for 12 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and when not too hot to handle, peel the shell and skin from the Chestnut. The Chestnuts are then ready to be added to a skillet containing a sautéed base stock of choice such as salt pork, shallots, and wine where the nuts will be added and cooked on simmer until the liquid stock cooks away and the Chestnuts are tender. While roasting of Chestnuts typically keeps the texture firm as the heat dries the nut, boiling Chestnuts softens the texture as moisture is added to the nut. If firm Chestnuts are to be used as an ingredient in a baked foods, boil the nuts to remove the shell and skin. Fill a pan with just enough water to cover the Chestnuts. Allow them to reach boiling and then simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, removing the nuts so the shell and skin can be peeled away. The Chestnuts can then be added to foods for continued baking. To boil the Chestnut for mashing, place the shelled nuts in a pot with enough water just to cover all of the Chestnuts. Allow the water to reach a boiling temperature and then simmer the nuts for approximately 20 minutes. After they have cooked and while they are still hot or warm, the skin should peel easily away from the nut. They can then be mashed or pureed for use with poultry and meat dishes. The desired consistency of mashed or pureed Chestnuts can be altered with a broth or milk and seasoned with salt, pepper or various herbs before serving.
A Chestnut contains 1 gram of fat, the lowest fat content of all nuts but are high in starch, containing more starch than a common potato. Water Chestnuts are not the same as tree Chestnuts. Water Chestnuts grow as an aquatic plant with a bulb containing a meaty flesh that is easily sliced and has some similarity in texture and sliced appearance to a tree Chestnut.
Although sizes vary and will affect the amount, generally 1 pound of fresh medium size Chestnuts shelled (approximately 75 Chestnuts) equals: