Thursday, August 22, 2013

KASHMIR AND LOTUS ( PLANT, FLOWER AND SEEDS )


                                                                            

( Lotus Plant cultivation in Dal Lake of kashmir )

                                      ( Lotus Plant cultivation in Nigeen Lake of kashmir )
                                                                           
                                                                               



(  Fresh Lotus seeds being sold On Ashai Bagh bridge near Nigeen Lake in Kashmir )
( Fresh  lotus seeds after removal of the green shell )


                        (  Bundles of Lotus stems ( locally known as Nadroo ) being sold in a shop in kashmir ) 

( Above Photographs by Avtar Mota )


KASHMIRIS AND NADRU  ( LOTUS STEMS )

                                                                                               

The lotus flower comes from a  freshwater plant ( botanical name Nelumbo Nucifera ) that has been cultivated mainly in southeast Asia, Mediterranean and also in some Latin American countries since ages.  In north and northeast areas of the country, it is essentially grown in lakes and ponds. Hindus, Buddhist and Egyptians consider the lotus as a sacred flower. The Mahayana sect of Buddhism believes that all souls come out from a lotus. The Buddhist Mantra ‘Om mani padme hum’ refers to the ‘jewel in the lotus’ which represents illumination or enlightenment. Buddhists believe that this mantra has great spiritual powers.

 In ancient Egypt, spiritual teachings held that the lotus represented the sun, and therefore is directly linked to creation and rebirth. This belief was reinforced from the way a lotus flower closes its petals at night and hides underwater but rising again at dawn and opening its petals. The ancient Egyptians believed that a lotus flower gave birth to the sun. The blue lotus, especially, is highly revered in Egyptian culture.

Hindus consider the entire plant including its seeds as sacred. According to the Purāņas, Brahmā ( creator of the universe ) is self-born in the lotus flower. In India, the lotus is known by various names like Pundarika, Padma, Kamala, Utpala, etc.


There is a popular saying in Kashmir ‘ Lembi Munz Pamposh ’ about lotus flower which means that if one has to be in the mud, he must remain above it and shine like a Lotus flower. The leaves of a lotus flower were also put to use in Kashmir as saucers for eating food.

The lotus stems are eaten as a favourite vegetable in Kashmir. Locally known as Nadroo,  these stems are sold as a bundle. One bundle roughly weighs more than one Kilogram. A Nadroo bundle is known as ‘ Geyid’ in Kashmiri. Extracted from lakes, Nadroo is extensively used as a vegetable in almost every Kashmiri household. Kashmiris cook these stems with turnips,  potatoes, fish, lentils, Haak and many other vegetables. Nadroo Yakhni or Nadroo cooked in curd is a favourite dish in a Kashmiri Pandit family. It is a much-loved dish in a marriage feast. Nadroo chips are fried and a pinch of common salt and red chilly powder is sprinkled over it to make  ‘Nadroo Churma’. Nadroo is also used for making Pakodas known as  Nadroo Monjji’ or ‘Monji Gooel ’ in Kashmiri.

  So popular was the lotus in Kashmir that children were fondly named as Pamposh ( lotus in Kashmiri ). We had many business houses with names as Pamposh Traders, Pamposh Hotel, Pamposh Travel Service,  etc.

Lotus seeds or lotus nuts locally known as ‘ Pumm-Buchh’ ( in the Kashmiri language ) are abundantly grown in lakes of Kashmir. You come across this stuff being sold by footpath vegetable sellers in and around Dal lake;  quite frequently on Boulevard  Srinagar and also near Ashai Bagh bridge ner  Nigeen lake in   Srinagar city. I saw this stuff being sold near Wular lake or along the footpaths of main Bazaar of Bandipore town which is situated on the eastern bank of this lake. I also saw ‘Pumm-Buchh’ being sold near Manasbal lake in Kashmir. The fresh variety of seeds held inside a green shell are soft watery white and sweet to taste. About twenty seeds are generally held on a spongy green bulb. Once exposed to heat and air, the shell of the seeds turns hard and black and the soft white seed inside dries up and changes its colour to yellowish-brown.
Lotus seeds are eaten raw. A good amount of dried lotus seeds are used by Kashmiri Pandits as Homa Samagri ( material for burning in sacred Homa or Yajna fire   ). These seeds are also put to extensive use in northeastern states of the country. In many Asian countries,  the seeds are dried and used in cuisine and medicines. The use of these seeds as medicine is quite popular in China. These seeds are also put to use in some Latin American countries. I found them being sold in Amritsar on footpaths just outside Ram Bagh park.

Chinese and Japanese use the paste of lotus seeds in bakery products especially in Pastries. It has been now established through clinical tests that lotus seeds act as antioxidants and help in reducing inflammation, fight ageing process and lowering hypertension. The practitioners of the Chinese system of medicine prescribe the seeds for well being of spleen, kidney and heart.


LOTUS STEMS  IN  CHINA TOWN, NEW YORK CITY

 In 2018, I  searched for the  Lotus stems  ( Nadroo )  in  Chinatown, New York. Collard Greens (Kaachhi Haak) was a bonus in this search. The search story goes as under:-

As we come out from the underground Canal Street metro station, we start moving towards   Chinatown. This Street lies close to  Little Italy or the  Soho locality. Coming closer to the HSBC building, we try to seek help from shopkeepers.

‘ Which side are the vegetable shops?’ I ask a smiling Chinese shop keeper selling many varieties of dried fish ( Hogaad), dried shrimps and dried mushrooms.

‘What? I  Don’t follow what you say.’ comes the reply.

We move ahead and speak to another Chinese boy selling fresh baby Coconuts on the street.

‘ You understand English’
‘Yeah ’
‘How much one coconut?’
‘ Two Dollar fifty cent ’
‘ Where are vegetables sold?’
" Two blocks and make a left.  So many.All good .’



We move towards the suggested destination. It turns out to be a Chinese restaurant. We feel disappointed. On footpaths,  we see some Afro- Americans selling low-priced goods to tourists. Goods like key rings, sunglasses, purses, bags, toys, wristwatches, caps, wall pictures etc., They keep crying:-

‘Hey, guys. This way. This way. You gonna buy everything solid. Everything gonna cheap, Yeah sir. Madam, you wanna purse. Here go five dollars.’

I come closer to a smiling man selling caps. He has every reason to welcome us as customers.
‘Buy sir.  Madam, I gonna give good caps. Good ones, take
home.’

‘ No. Thanks. We are looking for a vegetable shop. Can you guide us? We want to buy vegetables.”

‘ What? cooked dish! ‘

“ No, raw and fresh from the farm like kohlrabi, collard greens, tomatoes, cilantro, kale, pumpkin, gourd, eggplants,  carrots, potatoes, etc.  We wash, cut and then we put on the boil in the kitchen. We eat finally. That is what we want to buy.”

‘ O! I get it. You wanna go fresh produce store. Here you say vegetable,  they gonna guide you restaurant. They gonna think cooked dish.  Go one block and make a right.  There that market and many shops sell fresh farm produce. ’

We follow the suggested path and cross the footpath where Chinese women were selling fruits like double cherries, Mexican mangoes, apricots, watermelons, muskmelons, pears, apples, plums and bananas. Suddenly we find some vegetable shops. Fresh vegetables are on display on the footpath outside these spacious shops. We stop at a vegetable shop.  Variety of Collard greens.  Yes our
green leafy ‘Haak ’ in various shapes and sizes.

‘ What is this? ’
‘This is Jai-lan. Good. One  dollar fifty cents for a pound .’
‘ And that ’
‘Bok Choy ’
 ‘ Do you have lotus stem ?’
‘ What? ’
‘Long stem of a lotus flower. Tubes like inside when cut.  Grows in water. Used for making a dish. In China, also used for making medicine. ’
‘ Come, see inside the Shop.  ’

                                                                                  
                          ( Lotus stems or Nadroo in a shop in Chinatown New York )

We go inside the shop. He opens a cardboard box. Something in Chinese is printed on the box. As he removes the grass,  we find   Nadroo looking like turnips. The man looks at my face. I smile and he smiles too.
‘ No  Stem. Say lotus root. Say ‘Lian Ou ’  next time here in this market.’

I was told by a Chinese family in New York that they love serving the lotus root in their cuisine. They also use other lotus products like lotus seeds, lotus leaf and lotus root powder to make different kinds of dishes and desserts.
( Avtar Mota )

PS
Eating lotus roots raw can spread parasites or bacterial infections. Therefore, always cook( boil,  stir fry or deep fry ) lotus roots before eating or adding them to your diet.
 





Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

6 comments:

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