What Are Indian Water Chestnuts?
Water chestnut or caltrop is an aquatic plant belonging to the genus Trapa. The edible part is actually a large seed, which is surrounded by an odd-looking fruit.
Water chestnuts come from three aquatic plants:
- Trapa bicornis provides the ling or horn nut.
- Trapa natans provides the trapa or Jesuit nut.
- Trapa bispinosa provides the singhara nut.
Each plant's fruit is called 'water chestnut,' but they are morphologically different from one another.
The Chinese water chestnut is from a different plant, Eleocharis dulcis, which provides an edible corm. A corm is a small underground stem that becomes bulbous. Chinese water chestnuts are not nuts, fruit, or seeds, but aquatic vegetables.
Nutrients in Indian Water Chestnut (Singhara)
Health Benefits of Water Chestnut (Singhara)
Singhara is widely used in Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine and is used to treat stomach, liver, kidney, and spleen ailments. It is a bitter, astringent, diuretic, and antiseptic plant.
Some of the reported health benefits are:
- It is a cooling food, ideal to counter summer heat.
- The juice relieves nausea and can improve appetite.
- A paste of the seed helps to treat cracked heels.
- The acrid juice is used to control diarrhea and dysentery.
- Powdered singhara relieves cough.
- The fruit reduces inflammation and may act as an aphrodisiac.
- Applied regularly, singhara seed powder, mixed with lemon juice, will help treat eczema.
- Low in fat
- Low in sodium
- High in potassium
- Rich in minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus
- Contains moderate amounts of fibre
- Good source of energy
How to Knead Singhara Dough and Make Singhara Roti (Navratri Festival Recipe)
Culinary Uses for Singhara
The nuts can be eaten raw, though they are usually boiled. When they are dried, they can be milled into a flour called singhara atta, or chestnut flour, which is used to make Indian roti or flatbread.
This flour is used to prepare foods for religious festivals, including Navratri. It is an allowed food during fasting days because it is not made of grain. The preparation of two such dishes, singhara poori, and singhara roti, two types of Indian bread, can be watched in the videos below.
The flour is also added to milk to make milk creamier, and it can be used to make the batter for deep-frying.
Singhade Ki Puri | Pudine Ka Raita | A Complete Navratri Vrat Meal Recipe
More About Trapa bispinosa
Water chestnuts cultivated in India are a specific variety. They have rough, thick skins. They aren't particularly good-looking and have a large white seed.
The plant grows in ponds, marshes, and lakes. The upper leaves float on the surface, while the rest of the plant remains submerged.
The petioles, or leaf stalks, hold air to help keep the upper leaves afloat. The plant has two types of roots: one that fixes the plant to the muddy substrate and a second that is attached to the underside of the leaves and floats free. These roots have photosynthetic activity.
The flowers open above the water surface. After pollination, they submerge themselves so that the fruit can develop. The fruit is always found under the leaves, and when it is mature, it drops off on its own and can be fished out with a net.
What Do Singhara Seeds Look Like?
Singhara grows in three colours: green, red, and a blend of these two colours. The fruit is oddly shaped. They have between two and four short, thick, blunt projections jutting out from the thick seed coat, which is hard to remove. It can be either be sliced off into two pieces or removed by hand after the seed is boiled. Take care, because the seed coat can colour the hands black when the fruit is handled.
The seeds are triangular and thick. They have a mild, sweet taste.
Singhara has been cultivated in India for at least 3,000 years. One can see roadside vendors hawking the raw or boiled fruit when it is in season. It is also cultivated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Taiwan, and Australia.
- Adkar, P., Dongare, A., Ambavade, S., & Bhaskar, V. H. (2014, February 10). Trapa bispinosa Roxb.: A Review on Nutritional and Pharmacological Aspects. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/aps/2014/959830/
- Alfasane, Md. Almujaddade, Moniruzzaman Khonder, M. Mahbubar Rahman. Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, Dhaka‐1000, Bangladesh. Biochemical Composition of the Fruits of Water Chestnut (Trapa bispinosa Roxb.). Dhaka Univ. J. Biol. Sci. 20(1): 95‐98, 2011 (January). Retrieved November 17, 2017, from https://www.banglajol.info/index.php/DUJBS/article/view/8879/6590
Other References Used
- Mann, S., Gupta, D., Gupta, V., & Gupta, R. (2011, November 27). Evaluation of Nutritional, Phytochemical, and Antioxidant Potential of Trapa Bispinosa Roxb. Fruit. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from http://www.ijppsjournal.com/Vol4Issue1/3050.pdf
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
Anita Vaghela on July 01, 2019:
Good information for my study
Food and nutrition
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 31, 2018:
Thank you Amarjeet Kaur.
Amarjeet kaur on October 31, 2018:
Good information and necessary and help. thanks
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 08, 2017:
Nishith Shah, the water chestnut or singhara referred to in my article is a fruit which grows under water. The plant is also called water chestnut & it grows in water most of it being submerged and some part floating.
You may decide now whether jains can eat this or not.
Nishith Shah on December 03, 2017:
Dear Rajan Sir ,
I am a jain , so pl help me with the information ;
that as a jain I cannot eat underground root vegetables , so this Indian water chestnut or Singhoda we call it - is it a Fruit or a Root of a plant or a aquatic venerable ?
I am getting so much confused reading the various articles online .
Will appreciate if you can share final clarity that as a jain I can eat or it or not ?
Thanks in advance
Divesh on November 28, 2017:
Thank you for sharing such valuable information on water chestnuts/caltrops... Apart from carrying vital nutrition values, these are very tasty. Can you please share some recepie where these are used.
Btw I also read somewhere that they are also rich source of magnesium and potassium.
Appreciate that you take out time to respond to individual comments with your feedback.
Ketan on November 17, 2017:
Is shingles is a root fruit?
Chaudhry on November 01, 2017:
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 06, 2017:
Please check with online sellers mrs jyoti.
mrs jyoti nitin karnik on August 23, 2017:
i want a water chestnut plant to grow in my tub pond, where can i find it please
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 01, 2016:
Rajesh, sorry I have no idea what you're referring to.
Rajesh on August 25, 2016:
Very informative.I want to know name of black color swollen stem grow under water.it is eatable and sweet in taste and after removing skin white color ediable nut appear. It taste is like water chestnut
In Hindi rural area is called kasaer.
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 06, 2016:
Syed, thanks for appreciating.
Syed on April 05, 2016:
Many thanks dear it is very informative article regarding water chest nuts and especially it is related to male sex issues , it is very benefited to person especially males who have high cholesterol and Cannot eat some other foods and dry fruits which are contain on high cholesterol , and due to this males whom have their high cholesterol can use this fruit/dry fruit too , I really appreciate you to share such nice and beneficial information
Tsu Yuan Nieh from Newcastle, UK on November 14, 2015:
Enjoyed your hub. I used to cook different dishes when I was in school but I am working, I just stick to couple of dish and make them repeatedly. One dish I used to cook is Chinese Perl Meatball. One key ingredient is water chestnut. I remember assuming there is no other water chestnuts than Chinese ones and always went to Chinese stores purchased overpriced ones but one day I suddenly found them in UK super store for 50 pence.
Anyway, it is one of my favorite food but I never really cared much about its nutrition. Thanks a lot of the info and the water chestnut dishes video looked interesting and delicious.
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 22, 2015:
Meeru thanks for reading my article and appreciating it in so many words. You are right as children we have always liked to eat singhara whether raw or boiled. The health benefits are tremendous.
Thank you for being here once again.
meeru , on March 14, 2015:
Had purchased shingoda flour ad an option for grain , I wanted to know its benefits so found thus site - excellent information rajanji!! Also will lookup recepies , have eaten the fruit since childhood - raw and juicy ,addictively so never thought of options of using ,info for health benefits as well as nutrients was interesting !
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 16, 2013:
Thanks Paul. Actually drinking water can cause bloating and hence water should not be drunk immediately after eating singhara. Thanks for the read and sharing.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on May 16, 2013:
This is once again an awesome hub with some great photos. I have eaten water chestnuts in Thailand, but never realized that they had so many beneficial uses. Why can't a person drink water after eating singhara? Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting.
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 21, 2013:
Thanks Margaret. We prefer eating the fruit by boiling and removing the black skin, sprinkling some rock salt and eating as a snack. Thanks for the votes and sharing.
Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on April 21, 2013:
Another excellent hub. I've had Chinese water chestnuts, but never the Indian variety. The medicinal qualities of plants always amazes me. Voted up, interesting and sharing.
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 21, 2013:
Thanks, Au fait. I hope you get these water chestnuts where you live. Thanks for the votes and sharing.
C E Clark from North Texas on April 20, 2013:
Very interesting and educational article as always. Your photos for the recipes for the cakes look so delicious! You always provide an excellent read and I always learn something which I look forward to. Voted up, interesting and useful! Gave you 5 more stars and will share!
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 14, 2013:
@Rasma-We get them fresh here and I love them. Appreciate your comments and sharing.
@Peggy-thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments and sharing.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 14, 2013:
We generally always keep a can of water chestnuts in our food pantry and I love to incorporate them into some of my stir fry oriental flavored type of meals. I never even thought about how they were grown or harvested. Thanks for enlightening me and others who will be reading this hub. You are a genuine fount of information! Gave this 5 stars, will share + up, useful and interesting votes.
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on April 14, 2013:
Thanks for sharing. I used to use water chestnuts quite a bit in Chinese cooking however we can't get them here now or if they show up in cans they're quite expensive but I do enjoy them. Passing this on. Hope you're having a great weekend.
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 13, 2013:
@catmalone-glad you found it information. Thanks.
@Devika-glad you like the info. Thanks.
@Kathryn-thanks for stopping by.
@Jo-nice to know you find this info useful. Thanks for the visit and sharing.
@livingsta-maybe you could try them now. Appreciate your sparing time to read and leave a comment.Thanks for sharing.
@Nithya-thanks fro reading and leaving a comment.
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 13, 2013:
Great hub and information about the water chestnut. I did not know that they were ground into flour and used. Thanks for sharing.
livingsta from United Kingdom on April 13, 2013:
This is useful and interesting Rajan. Thank you for sharing this with us. I have never tasted these!
Voted up and sharing!
Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on April 13, 2013:
Hi rajan, another interesting write.... I use water chestnuts in stir fries occasionally and that's about it. You've opened up a whole new way of looking at them for me, such a very versatile food!... Thank you for this information, up and sharing.
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on April 13, 2013:
I never knew water chestnuts were an aquatic vegetable, and I have never seen what they look like before they're canned. Very interesting!
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 13, 2013:
A truly amazing hub about the water chestnut, I am so glad I saw this hub you have written another well informed topic. Voted up and interesting.
catmalone on April 12, 2013:
Very useful and informative hub. I didn know that chest nuts have so many nutritional value. Great hub!
Rajan Singh Jolly (author) from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 12, 2013:
@Bill- thanks, my friend.
@Kbdare-glad you found this informative. Thanks.
Kbdare from Western US. on April 12, 2013:
Wow, greatly researched Hub! I did not know that there were three different kinds of water chestnuts and the one being most common to me being more of a vegetable than a nut. Thanks for sharing!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 12, 2013:
I always learn so much from you, Rajan! Thank you for being my teacher with these great hubs.
Have a wonderful weekend!