You can find these stems being sold by roadside vendors, especially along roads that run by a river or a pond. The light brown or white, sausage-like tubular vegetable has holes in it. These are lotus stems and they are used widely in Indian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. They are relished for their taste and nutritional value.
Known in Hindi as bhe or kamal kakri, the lotus stem contains hollow air channels that run the length of the stem. It is crunchy, sweet and tastes like water chestnut. It has a delicate flavour and is suitable for eating raw or cooked. It can be cut into cubes, or sliced just like other vegetables.
Lotus stem is eaten raw when added to salads. Its salad along with prawns is a delicacy in many popular cultures. Lotus stem curry is prepared by boiling or stir-frying the stem. The curry is a good accompaniment for rotis and rice.
Lotus stem is available year-round, with a peak season in the fall. This aquatic plant is found all over India.
Lotus stem is very healthy being a great source of dietary fibre. It contains minerals like copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese. It boosts the production of red blood cells. It has high leves of vitamin C which helps to protect our body from scurvy and increases immunity.
How lotus production is impacting the livelihood of farmers
In our country, it is considered a sacred flower and it is our national flower too. Lotus has many practical uses, beneficial uses (as medicine) as well as cultural uses (to worship God). Growing demand for lotus especially flowers has motivated farmers to increase cultivation. The plant are easy to maintain.
During festivals there is a huge demand for lotus flowers according to rituals. India stands second in the world in the export of high-value flowers like lotus. Hence, there is a good business opportunity.
Environmental implications of growing lotus
The lotus plants are critical to fish and aquatic wildlife because they provide cover, nesting areas and food. The large leaves of lotus provide ample shade.
The lotus is the favourite water plant among fishermen because unlike other water lilies, the lotus does not tangle fishing lines.