Water Lily vs Lotus seeds: Why the difference is important

Making the distinction between these two easily confused ancient powerhouse plants.

The misconception between the Water Lily Plant and the Lotus flower is something that has confused lovers of Makhana across the world. To learn more, ZENKO went directly to the communities where Makhana is harvested to re-discover what Makhana truly is.

Makhana, though often mislabelled as Popped Lotus Seeds, is actually derived from the seeds of the Prickly Water Lily Plant, also known as the Euryale Ferox, found largely in North India and specifically Bihar. The water lily seeds are stored in the bulb of the water lily flower, a prickly bundle full of the seeds which eventually burst when it is ripe, releasing the seeds, and making them available to harvest. The seeds are then harvested, roasted, and popped, preparing them to be consumed by the locals who have enjoyed them for years, and more recently, to be sent to other curious explorers eager to try this coveted superfood as well.

Prickly Water Lily Plant
The Euryale Ferox fruit with seeds

While water lily seeds are stored in the bulb of the flowers, water lotus seeds are stored in the lotus’ emergent roots, which grow in parallel to the flowers where their seeds reside.

Lotus root

Unlike water lily seeds, lotus seeds can’t be popped. Rather, they are harvested, their hard shell is removed and they are roasted and can be eaten once roasted.

The primary difference between the seeds is that water lily seeds can be converted into a light, puffy, airy snack, Makhana, which can be enjoyed in a manner similar to popcorn with far more health benefits. Lotus seeds, however, are consumed more similarly to roasted corn nuts or pumpkin and sunflower seeds, where the seed remains close to the form it was harvested in.

Through ZENKO’s hands-on approach with our suppliers, we have peeled back all the confusion around these seeds, and can now sit back and enjoy a few freshly popped and roasted Water Lily Seeds of our favourite flavour.

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