|Egyptian blue lotus|
Saturday, 8 January 2011
LOTUS- LOTUS ROOT- LOTUS FLOWER: HOW TO USE THE LOTUS FOR HEALTH: LOTUS ROOT PICKLE RECIPE
The lotus is a sacred plant to Buddhists, Hindus and Jains and has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is a symbol of everlasting life, resurrection, fertility, prosperity (material and spiritual), enlightenment amidst ignorance and one can understand why. This amazing plant has been used in traditional medicine for a number of diseases and infections and Western research has validated most of the traditional medicinal uses. The root or rhizome is edible, and rather like a crunchy water chestnut in taste, and these can be substituted for lotus root in cookery. It also tastes a little like coconut but you have to sample it to judge for yourself what it is like.
The root will discolour quickly when exposed to air, so if you have a fresh root to cook, keep some water mixed with lemon juice near so that you can dip it into this so that it retains its creamy-white colour. You can batter and deep fry the cut tubers, boil, steam roast, pickle them or even eat them raw. They are crunchy so don’t overcook them thinking that they will go soft; they won’t. You can dry the root and then make meal from it which can be mixed to a paste to get rid of ringworm and other skin problems, or use it like flour.
Lotus roots can grow up to 4 feet in length and be 2 to 4 inches wide. They can come in segments, each of which can be 8 to 12 inches long. They are cultivated in ponds which can be easily drained to harvest the root or in tanks. The root is the main part eaten, but the whole plant is edible and all of it is used in medicine for different purposes.
The roots contain asparagines, tannin, nelumbine, carotene, thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).The seeds contain protein and carbohydrates, and the minerals potassium, calcium and phosphorous among others. The flowers also contain iron and calcium among other constituents.
Lotus plants are native to Asia, Australia, Egypt, the Middle East and New Guinea, and Nelumba lutea was used as food and medicine by the Native Americans.
The lotus is associated with Creation myths, and one myth tells of the god Vishnu, asleep in the primordial waters which had covered the first created world, and as he dreamed, a golden lotus flower grew from his navel. As it unfurled, it revealed the cosmic egg in which Brahma the creator lay sleeping. As Brahma stirred in the egg, so creation began once more and new worlds and life unfolded. In India today the lotus is viewed as the Cradle of the Universe, and there are similar myths about the lotus in Egypt where a “cousin” of the lotus grows. This is the blue lotus, Nymphaea caerula; the myth says that a new child god was born from this flower who was the Light that banished Darkness. The ancient Egyptians used it to invoke Isis, Osiris and Thoth. In India it is sacred to Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity and abundance.
The lotus also symbolizes peace and serenity and the lotus position, adopted in meditation, signifies the person transcending the material world. The legs are crossed and the upper parts of the body are erect in an attempt to achieve a oneness with the gods.
The lotus seeds can be very long lived as in north eastern China some were discovered in the sediment of a dried up lake in the 1920s and planted. No one realized at the time how old they were, but tests in the 1990s revealed that the seeds had germinated after lying dormant for 1300 years. Scientists have said that lotus seeds are “the oldest demonstrably viable and directly dated seed ever reported” and are using evidence from lotus seeds in an attempt to understand the ageing process of other species.
Seeds are used to make prayer beads, and lotus leaves stalks are harvested in Myanmar for their fibre. This is made into threads and woven into cloth to make religious robes and altar cloths. The lotus leaf stalks are used in India to make wicks for temple lamps.
Because the seeds can germinate from mud after the monsoon rains and give rise to new plants, they are symbolic of immortality and resurrection.
In India honey made from the lotus flowers is valued because it is good to treat eye problems, and the large leaves are laid on the body during high fevers to bring the temperature down. The boiled roots, mixed with sesame oil are used to alleviate heat and applied to the head and eyes. A cough syrup is made with dried lotus flowers, and the leaves and stems may be pounded and made into a paste to help cure piles, leprosy, and other skin diseases as well as eaten to stop vomiting. The milky latex in the stems, leaves and flowers has antibacterial properties.
The flower stamens are used in preparations to help with erectile dysfunctions such as premature ejaculation, and the seeds taken orally for 7 days with water from rice, is believed to improve female fertility. The stamens are also used to stop excessive urine and uterine bleeding. The seeds have sedative properties and can cure insomnia, as well as soothing the uterus muscles. The leaf juice when boiled with liquorice root is effective against sunstroke. The stalk is used to stem excessive blood flow during menstruation, and to halt the bleeding of gastric ulcers. Parts of the plant have been used to cure STDs and cancer, and research is continuing into the anti cancer effects of extracts from the plant.
A decoction of the flowers is used to combat premature ejaculation and as parts of the plant contain a substance, L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase; it is thought that this might play a role in halting the ageing process in the skin, as it can repair protein damage. The flowers have also been used as a diuretic in traditional medicine.
One of my favourite recipes is deep-fried lotus root; cut and blanch thin slices of lotus root and coat in a spicy matter, then deep fry for a few minutes. Delicious.
LOTUS ROOT PICKLE
3 tbsps rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 tbsps sugar
300 gr sliced lotus root
3 red chillies split from top to bottom
Peel the root and cut into slices. Dipping each slice into water with lemon juice added to stop it discolouring. Boil a pan of water and blanch the root for 3 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Meanwhile boil the vinegar and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Put the lotus root and chillies into a glass jar and cover with the liquid. Seal the jar and put it in the fridge where it will keep for about a week.
This has Taste and is a Treat.
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