Lotus stem (also wrongly called as lotus root) is popularly called kamal kakdi in India. It is popularly used as a vegetable in India and is also used by many other Asian countries like Japan and China. Lotus stem (English Name) as the name suggests is the stem of lotus flower whose scientific name is Nelumbo Nucifera. These are modified stems known as rhizomes. Lotus stem has a sweet, mild and crunchy taste and is very, very rich in nutrients.
Lotus Stem Common Names:
It is called Kamal Kakdi | Kamal Kakri in Hindi, Nadru in Kashmir, Renkon in Japan and Thamarai Thandu in Tamil. Many refer to these stems as lotus roots but in reality they are the rhizomes (modified stems) of lotus plant and the real roots are thin and are found beneath the stem buried inside the soil. Since it is more commonly referred to as lotus root than lotus stem, I have used both names interchangeably here.
Lotus plants are grown commercially for harvesting the stem in countries like Japan where it is used extensively in cooking. Though we don’t get lotus stems very commonly here in India, last week when I went to my local town, I saw lotus stems placed in a huge bucket filled with water.
I was overjoyed and got a few for cooking at home. Lotus stems are long, plump and are light brown color and the height of the stem can vary between 2 to 4 meters. When you peel the outer skin and then chop it into pieces, you will find small holes inside which make it look beautiful and unique.
The holes are nothing but air cubicles that run through the entire stem. This unassuming vegetable is packed full of nutrition and if you read its nutritional values, you will be impressed like me too!
Nutritional Value Of Lotus Stem:
100 grams of lotus stem have around 74 calories, 17 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of protein, 5 grams of finer and .1 grams of fat. It is also rich in zinc (.39 mg), manganese (.261 mg), magnesium (23mg), iron (1.16mg), copper (.25mg), potassium (556mg), sodium (40 mg) and vitamin C (44 mg). In addition, lotus stem is also rich in niacin, pyridoxine, thiamin and selenium!
Lotus Stem Health Benefits:
1. Lotus Stem For Constipation:
Lotus stems are very high in fiber, dietary fiber adds bulk and helps in passing the stools easily. Regular consumption will greatly prevent constipation, it also promotes digestive health.
2. Lotus Stem For Hair & Skin:
Lotus stem is very rich in vitamin C (more than 70 % of the daily recommended value). Vitamin C is a wonderful antioxidant which prevents free radical damage greatly.
Vitamin C also helps in collagen production which is very essential for healthy skin, hair and bones. Lotus stem is rich in copper which is very essential for healthy hair, you can read that study that proves its antioxidant properties here.
3. For Lowering Cholesterol:
Any food that is rich in dietary fiber helps in lowering cholesterol. Fiber binds with the fat in the food thus greatly reducing the overall absorption of fat in the body. Regular intake of fiber rich foods like lotus stem and banana stem in the diet along with drastically cutting down on processed food will go a long way in keeping us healthy.
4. For Weight Loss:
Being rich in fiber, low in calories and very high in nutrients, it is a perfect food to be included in a weight loss diet plan. Consume whole wheat roti along with lotus stem sabzi and you will be fuller for longer periods of time without having the urge to snack in between, it is also very low in calories.
5. Lotus Stem & Vitamin B:
Lotus stem is rich, in fact very rich in vitamin B especially niacin, folate, vitamin B6, thiamin & pantothenic acid whose deficiency will lead to irritability, memory loss, tension and headaches. To reduce stress and have mental clarity, we should consume vitamin B rich vegetables like lotus stem regularly.
6. For Regulating Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar:
Lotus stem is especially useful for diabetes and high blood pressure patients as it helps regulate both blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Since it is rich in potassium it helps regulate blood pressure very effectively.
You can read the study that proves its use for diabetes here. In addition, lotus stem has anti bacterial and anti viral properties and regular consumption will improve immunity greatly.
Where To Buy Lotus Stem ?
When selecting lotus stems, make sure to buy ones that are firm, tender and do not have soft spots. The skin should be smooth and unblemished. We also get tinned lotus stems (I would suggest not using tinned ones) and frozen lotus stem too, but in India it is hard to get frozen lotus stems.
Lotus Stem Side Effects:
Lotus stem is very high in fiber so slowly increase the quantity for your body to get used to the fiber. Also try not to eat raw lotus stems, since it grows in the mud, it is really hard to clean it well and the chances of getting parasitic infection is very high when consuming uncooked lotus stems. Especially, pregnant women should not consume raw lotus stems.
How To Cook Lotus Stem?
1. Before using the lotus stem, wash them in water well to get rid of any dirt and then cut the end parts on both sides.
2. Now peel off the outer brownish skin with a peeler, you will find white stem inside.
3. Cut into thin rounds, you can cut it slantingly too.
4. Wash in water again to remove any dirt.
5. Now boil in water till it gets cooked, you can also pressure cook it. Don’t throw away the water it is cooked in, add it to the gravy along with the cooked lotus stem.
Kamal Kakdi Sabzi Recipe | Lotus Stem Sabzi:
For the gravy, saute 1 large onion, 3 tomatoes, a small piece of ginger and 3 garlic cloves (garlic and ginger pounded together) in a little oil and grind it finely in a mixer.
Heat oil in a pan and add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder (make sure to keep the flame on low and don’t burn the powders). Once the raw smell of the powders goes, add in the ground mixture and salt and boil till thick.
Once thick, add in the cooked lotus stem along with cooked water and 1/2 tsp of garam masala powder. Cook till it forms a semi gravy, finally garnish with coriander leaves.
A simple but very healthy sabzi……:)