Water Chestnut, Chinese Chestnut or Singhara, that goes with the botanical name Eleocharis dulcis is an aquatic vegetable, that grows in marshlands, under water and is a staple in the kitchens from Northern part of India. Though called as a nut in English, Water Chestnut falls into the category of vegetables, sporting tubular green leaves growing up to 5 feet that look like stems.
Water Chestnut is native to China and is grown extensively in Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia and pacific islands. A must-have in Chinese and Thai cuisines, Water Chestnuts which look like small, rounded corms can be consumed raw, boiled, sweetened, grilled and are also available tinned. Just like tiger nut, lotus root, Water Chestnuts too remain crisp, even after being cooked completely and this property is attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds.
In India, it goes with different names. Though popularly known as Singhara in Hindi and Tamil, it is referred as Paniphal, Singade, Jalfal in Bengali, Shingoda, Singoda in Gujarati, Singade, Gara, Simgara, Simgora in Kannada, Karimpolam, Vankotta, Jalaphalam, Karimpola in Malayalam, Kubyakam, Singada in Telugu, Singhade, Gaunaree in Punjabi, Shingoda in Marathi, Panipala and Singada in Oriya.
Nutrition in Water Chestnut:
Water Chestnut or Singhara is a non-starchy, zero fat aquatic vegetable that offers high amounts of dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, copper. It is loaded with 4 grams of fibre, 23.9 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, as mentioned by the USDA database.Also Read: Manganese: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency and Toxicity
Singhara in Ayurveda:
Singhara or Water Chestnut, is in fact a vrat or fasting food for those staying away from regular diet on the auspicious days, according to Hindu calendar. Referred as Shringata, Jalaphala, Paaniphal, Trikonaphala in Ayurvedic texts, it is described as sweet, astringent to taste and heavy to digest. The cool potency of this fruit is hugely recommended for satisfying pitta and kapha doshas and for nourishing the body from within.
Ancient and popular Ayurvedic practitioner Charaka mentioned about Singhara at great detail in his book Charaka Samhitha and has recommended it for those fighting infertility issues, impotency, painful urination, cough, haemorrhages and also general fatigue.
Therapeutic Uses of Singhara:
According to Ayurveda, Singhara comes with a variety of therapeutic properties. Traditional ayurvedic practitioners suggest eating Singhara flour in the form of halwa or any other dish for fighting general weakness and for gaining muscle.
- Consuming one spoon of Singhara atta mixed in warm water, provides relief from asthma
- Apply paste of Singhara atta on the cracked heels to soothe the skin
- Mix Water Chestnut flour with lemon water and apply it on affected areas to cure eczema
- Drinking milk mixed with Singhara improves sperm count. It prevents miscarriages in pregnant women
Health Benefits of Water Chestnut/Singhara:
Boosts Heart Health:
Water Chestnut is a powerhouse of potassium, which plays an imperative role in lowering high blood pressure. Hypertension is one of the primary reasons behind stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Being rich in potassium, Singhara aids in countering the effects of excessive intake of sodium. What’s more? Studies indicate that it can bring down the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. Nutritionists recommend including at least half a cup of cut Water Chestnut to regular diet for managing blood pressure and heart health.
Good For Weight Loss:
Water Chestnut, though a vegetable botanically is often referred as a fruit. Low on calories, at about 97 calories for every 100 grams, it is an amazing super food for those on weight loss journey. This fruit loaded with 74% of water keeps you satiated for longer hours, preventing mid-day hunger pangs. Eat it raw, boiled or even grilled to enjoy all its nutritional benefits.
Slows Down Tumour Growth:
Water Chestnuts are loaded with an antioxidant called ferulic acid, which plays great role in slowing down the growth of certain cancer cells. Studies reveal that consuming this fruit is hugely beneficial for those suffering from breast cancer.
The presence of Vitamin B6 in vegetarian foods is very negligible but Singhara is an exception. Consume this daily to increase the levels of Vitamin B6 for reducing stress, uplifting mood, improve the quality of sleep and for overall wellness.
Water Chestnuts are a powerhouse of antioxidants, which are imperative for fighting free radicals and for boosting immunity. Singhara aids in clearing toxins, combating oxidative stress caused due to free radicals and shield body from various viruses and bacterial infections.
How To Eat Water Chestnut?
Water chestnuts are easy to process and eat. Just peel the outer skin, brown in colour and eat the white juicy part. The fruit can be sliced into small pieces, fried, sautéed, boiled, pickled and even candied.
How Is Singhara Flour Made?
Water Chestnut is a winter fruit/vegetable but it is available in the form of flour or atta round the year. This flour is made by just drying the fruits and grounding them into powder.
Also known as Vrat Ka Atta in Hindi, it is consumed on those auspicious days where fasting is compulsory and one should refrain from eating rice, wheat flour and other whole grains. Singhara atta is an excellent source of carbs, that provide instant energy and being gluten free it can also be consumed by those fighting gluten intolerance, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome.
Is Singhara Good For Diabetics?
Yes! The presence of ample amounts of dietary fibre makes it a right choice for those fighting high blood sugars. Low on calorie, this water-loaded fruit keeps your stomach full, thus preventing midday hunger pangs and also sudden spike in sugar levels.
Water Chestnut is tasty, delicious and is used extensively used in various cuisines for dishing out amazing delicacies. It found an indispensable place on the restaurant menus, particularly serving Chinese and Thai cuisines.
We bring you two amazing recipes that can be made with this super veggie/fruit. Do not worry, if you don’t find fresh Water Chestnuts. The tinned ones serve the purpose too!
Singhara Ki Sabzi:
300 grams Water Chestnuts
2 tomatoes, chopped finely
2 green chilli, chopped finely
½ inch ginger, sliced thin
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp coriander powder
½ tsp hing or asafoetida
1 tsp rice or chickpea flour
Coriander leaves, chopped
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Wash Singhara and pressure cook it for 3 whistles. Peel the skin and keep the cooked vegetables aside
In a mixie, make a paste of tomatoes, green chilli and ginger
Take a pan and add oil. Sautee mustard seeds, cumin and asafoetida
Add chickpea flour and tomato paste too and fry it turns aromatic
Stir in salt, coriander powder, chilli powder before adding boiled Singhara to the dish
Add ¼ cup water and allow it to cook completely.
Garnish with coriander leaves before serving it with rice or roti
Singhara or Water Chestnut is a rich source of dietary fibre, carbs, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6. This curry has an ample mix of spices including mustard, cumin, coriander along with ginger for regulating stomach issues, improve appetite and digestion in winter months.
Tum Tib Grob or Water Chestnut In Coconut Milk:
1 cup freshly squeezed, chilled coconut milk
15 water chestnut, chopped roughly
2 tsp tapioca flour
2 tsp rose water or roohafza
½ cup sugar
In a bowl, pour rose water or roorhafza and dip chopped Water Chestnut pieces for 30 minutes. If you are using plain rose water, add beetroot juice or edible pink food colour to it for giving the pieces, a bright tinge
After 30 minutes, drain out the water and roll Water Chestnut pieces in tapioca flour
In a sauce pan, add sugar, water and melt. Dip coated Water Chestnut pieces and boil till they turn soft
Take a serving bowl. Add chilled coconut milk, sugary Water Chestnut pieces along with sugar syrup
Keep it in the fridge for at least two hours, before serving
This amazing delicacy served in Thai cuisine offers unique nutritional profile. While Singhara offers good amounts of Vitamin B6, potassium and keeps you satiated for longer hours, rose water is a powerhouse of vitamin C, phenolics, making it an amazing anti-inflammatory ingredient. Coconut milk is rich in protein, calcium, potassium and manganese. It can be relished in moderate amounts even by the diabetics.
Water Chestnut is available only in winter months and it may be hard to digest the fruit with thick flesh. If you are suffering from bloating, constipation and stomach pain, stay away from it. Certain studies indicate that though low on calories, eating candied Singhara contributes to weight gain. Do not eat it if you have cold, as it may trigger production of phlegm. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest to refrain from drinking water after eating fresh Water Chestnut, as it may interfere with the process of digestion.
Water Chestnut or Singhara is a winter vegetable/fruit that is native to China but is also available widely in India, during winter months. While Chinese, Thai use it in their regular diet – boiled, cooked, grilled, we Indians use it in the form of flour known as Singhara ka atta. Water Chestnut offers copious amounts of dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6.It is recommended as a part of weight loss diet, for improving heart health and for preventing various chronic ailments. It is relished as a part of Vrat ka Khaana, which means it can be relished during fasting on auspicious days. However, take it in moderate amounts if you have stomach issues as it can trigger constipation.