Singhara-fresh water chestnut

Singhara (shinghada) is something I found recently on my trip to North India.

When I first picked it from a roadside vender in Jaipur, I had no idea what they were! I assumed that it was a fruit since they were being sold alongside other fruits, but later I found out that they were Indian fresh water chestnuts, known as Singhara locally.They are the seeds of aquatic plants grown in slow moving water, and have been cultivated in China and India for centuries. They are mostly green on the outside and the flesh inside is white, crisp, and starchy. They are valued for their crunchy texture throughout Asian cooking. In Chinese cooking, they are used in stir-fries and to add texture to dumplings. Also, I really love the Thai red ruby dessert, Tub Tim Krob – yum!

The Indian singharas are green in color compared to the Chinese variety, which are almost black or dark brown, almost resembling real chestnuts.

You can have it raw – in the hotel I stayed in, peeled fresh singharas were served with other fruits for breakfast. They were crunchy and refreshing and had a slightly sweet note. I heard from my friend that she makes Singhara roti (flat bread) from ‘Singhare ka atta’ (water chestnut flour), which is made from dried, ground water chestnuts.  I would definitely like to try the roti sometime!  I had a Singhara and green pea curry from a restaurant in Mumbai, and it was delicious.  

I was very eager to recreate the curry when I got back, and experimented with canned singharas instead of fresh ones. I added some Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) to the curry along with the green peas and water chestnuts. This is how I made it:

 

Canned water chestnut

Water chestnut, Paneer and green peas curry

Oil- 2 tablespoon

Onion (grated)-1/2 cup

Ginger, garlic paste-1 teaspoon

Chili powder-1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon

Cardamom powder-1/4 teaspoon

Garam masala- 1 teaspoon

Plain yogurt-1/2 cup

Tomato puree (paste)-2 tablespoon

Cashew nut paste- 2 tablespoon

Salt

Water chestnuts- 250g

Paneer- 200 g

Green peas-1/4 cup

Fresh cream-4 tablespoon

Method

  • Heat oil and sauté the grated onion until all the liquid is evaporated and the oil starts to separate.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and sauté until fragrant and then add the spices and sauté on low flame for a few minutes.
  • Add plain yogurt, tomato puree, salt and one cup of water. Simmer slowly for ten minutes.
  • Add the cashew nut paste, water chestnut pieces, Paneer pieces and green peas.
  • Cook for a few minutes, adding enough water to make a thick gravy.
  • Add fresh cream and adjust the seasoning before serving.