phoolproof curry

We were at a picnic recently. Lovely place, lovely set of folks, lovely waters and well, great food and lots of it. Keeping with the tradition of all desi picnics, there were more gravy dishes than the dry kind. The kind that the rest of the world takes to picnics so that the maintenance is a no-brainer. We desis are the exceptions to all such rules. Rule-flounters and rebels no less. The size, folks, demographic can take long hikes, but there will be always be the dripping sloppy sambar, a few masala-drenched gravy-dishes, spicy red hot pickles and then the rest.

This time I was glad we stuck to tradition. I discovered this awesome tasting dish called Phool Makhani.

I placed a teeny bit on my plate and licked at it, and boy, the cells woke up and danced like they were unsupervised teens on soda. I hunted the cook down and without bothering to introduce myself asked her for the recipe and heaped praise on the dish she crafted. Very out of character for me I might add. As she giggled and blushed appropriately, I asked her what those soft round things soaked in all the goodness was. “Lotus seeds. Puffed lotus seeds.” She explained with a tone seeped in a concoction of surprise and patience. Really, could there really be a full grown Telugu woman not knowing what a Hyderabadi famous lotus seed was? Then again, am not from Hyderabad, never mind the full-grown bit.

..and so I discovered that the pure white, light as a feather round things sold in packages in the desi store were lotus seeds (phool makhani) and not a desi version of fluffed popcorn on growth hormone. I come home satiated and with a determination to google this thing out and make it myself. No, not just for its taste, which I was sure I wouldn’t be able to replicate (these were hardcore Hyderabadi top level chefs we talking about) but more excited that there was one other raw food item that I could incorporate into my cooking and thus saving me from death by boredom in the kitchen.


The package was duly purchased. One such package would last you through the great depression. A handful stretches a lot.

The menu: I searched and all I could find was the diligent kurma-based gravy that would eventually house these white round things. All with the coconut-poppy seed combination, which does taste heavenly as I know, but something that I was in no mood to grind up. Moreover, we aren’t a huge fan of the ground masalas. Way too strong to make it frequently and also I avoid grinding stuff if I can.

Instead this is what I did. Considering that the lotus seed did not have a taste of its own much like tofu, soya curd; I figured the masala makes or breaks this dish, and thus there is so much room for growth. Make it your own, as they say! With this enlightened thought in my head, I went ahead and created thus:

  • Chop red onions (always red, they taste close to home), fry.
  • Add in jeera, bay leaves, green chillies (I used jalapeno) and then the secret ingredient – saunf.
  • Fry all together a bit, add chopped tomatoes and some amchur and let it all simmer and become a fine mush. Okay, it won’t get fine, but more like an amalgamated harmony. It will be fine if you decide to grind onion and tomatoes. I didn’t, but you could and it would most definitely increase visual appeal.
  • Dry roast (standard recipes asked to deep fry the white thingies, I didn’t) those puffed thingies, and add it to the now mushed gravy.
  • Add salt, more of whatever you’d like (garam masala, red chilli powder or sugar)
  • Simmer for 10 minutes and serve with rotis or pulav.


Mine had a slight crunch to it after letting it soak for under 15 minutes. Strange considering everyone said it soaks fast, maybe mine were dry or perhaps they do soak quicker with deep-frying? However, we liked it that way, and the original picnic dish was mushy and slipped right into the gullet.

So go ahead, make your own gravy, add these up and you have a new dish! If you’d rather prefer the kurma based recipe, head over to Sia, or just foodblog-google for phool makhani.

crossposted at DC
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34 replies on “phoolproof curry”
  1. says: The Cydonian

    To be fair, though, most of the yummier desi dishes out there are dripping with hot steamy gravy, so it’s no surprise that your vana-bhojana bRndam brought brews to the brim. That said, my Amma and I resolved this vexing problem with an Asian- American innovation: origami vessels made out of aluminium foil.

    This Hyderabadi here hasn’t heard of lotus-seeds until about now; indeed, as this ( link for lotus-seed halwa suggests, it’s definitely not Hyderabadi in culinary origin, it’s perhaps Bhojpuri or Bengali or Kashmiri (I’m leaning on Kashmiri; they love lotuses there, right from the stalk upwards)

    That said, lovely receipe here; I’ll attempt it one of these weekends. Yes, have started cooking on Sunday afternoons now and this fits right in with my other culinary concoctions such as rajma. 😀

    1. says: rads

      ah, Kashmir sounds just about right. I’ve seen lotus stems, but puffed seeds was a first for me.

      Well@hyderabadi. You weren’t standing there facing her were you? :

  2. says: metlin

    They look like mushrooms. I like mushrooms, especially the kind that make me happy. The other kind, not so much (since they’re not really fruits or vegetables and since I’m a vegetarian and all that good stuff).

  3. says: maxdavinci

    3 Jalapenos minced with fresh ginger garlic were my speciality.

    Since i’ve discovered habeneros, 2 of them with a dash of lime have joined the arsenal now!

  4. says: A&N

    Are you the same person I know? I mean, someone who didn’t have a food blog?

    I knew Max will say something about jalapenos and Budd as he likes to call himself after his India jaunt will use a big word 😛

  5. says: bhel

    Cool, never heard of this before. Yet another thing to pick up and store in my larder, though hopefully, your write-up will inspire me to cook them too.

  6. says: Ms Taggart

    U said Hydie dish, is it? Disgust on people like me who claim to be Hyderabadis and yet dont know stuff like this..

    This sounds tasty.. I will see if I can try this here!

    1. says: rads

      ah, the jury’s out on where the origin’s from, but that lady sure made it sound like that.
      You know, full of expression, eyes like saucers, eyebrows raised, open mouth, and stressed the word “nijanga? Nijanga teleeda? arey?” 😐

      1. says: Ms Taggart

        This time u meet her, tell her – enti telisedi? asalu meeku telusa ani!!

        Oorike, she gave me a complex! 🙂 Now that its established its not a Hydie dish, I am not very guilty of not knowing it! 🙂
        Nevertheless, the attempt to try it will be on.. 🙂

  7. says: maggie

    ha ha..add me onto your list of Hyderabadis…never heard of these ‘white round thingies’…:O) ..was a fun read as usual!


  8. says: sraikh

    I have had those white things in prasad before. the dry atta type prasad..Dont know the name..

    Anyways, spouse called from desi store asking me what I wanted and I said phool maykhana and he asked what the hell is that. then I said its some white puffed thing looks like popcorn and but actually is lotus seed and is used by Hyderbadis. He then got what I was asking for..
    Will try the recipe tomorrow and let you know. I am always on the lookout for stuff for my youngest child who is allergic to so many things.

    1. says: rads

      LOL! You actually described him the whole thing!
      They quite nice and I sure hope the kid can eat. Lord now sthe most excruciatingly painful question of the day for most of us is “what to cook for dinner?” *sigh

      1. says: sraikh

        Hey, I just made it for tonight and I addec coconut milk because I had a can lying around. The actually seed itself is hmm pretty bland but the gravy was nice.

  9. Hi rads,
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  10. says: New visitor

    These ‘lotus seeds’ are called ‘Makhana’. They do grow under water but they are not lotus seeds!! Search for Euryale ferox or Makhana and you will get the details.
    These are available in plenty in Bihar…so Bhojpuri as somone put it is quite to the point. There are various ways we prepare it. My daughter likes it roasted in a littlle ghee with salt and pepper. We also make kheer by crushing roasted makhanas in milk. Another variation is coating roasted makhanas with a thick sugar syrup.

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