Ever read The Odyssey, Homer’s classical epic written around 10 BC? Then you are familiar with Odysseus’ struggle to return home after the Trojan War. In once instance, Odysseus’ ship was blown off-course to a strange land populated by people identified as lotus-eaters. The lotus-eaters gave Odysseus’ men some lotus flowers to eat and that was the beginning of a new challenge for the king as his men fell into a lotus-induced trance and no longer wanted to go back home.
According to Homer’s narrative, the lotus plant caused anyone who ate the flowers or seeds to forget who he was and his only interest was to eat more of the plant. The effects of the lotus plant were so powerful that Odysseus had to literally drag his crew back to the ship as they wept bitterly for being taken away from their new-found pastime.
Away from Homer’s narratives, the lotus plant, also known as the sacred lotus or yellow lotus, is an aquatic perennial plant that has been an important source of food since prehistoric times. It thrives in marshes, ponds, and lakes. The roots of the lotus plant grow horizontally underwater while the seeds grow above the surface of the water in large seed pods. Lotus flowers are not only magnificent but also edible. The blossoms have a mild, fresh taste and can be substituted for lettuce.
All parts of the lotus flowering plant – leaves, tuber, flowers, and stems- are edible. The plant has been used as a vegetable for flavoring dishes and can be eaten raw, salted, dried, boiled or baked. In addition, the lotus makes a wonderful accompaniment to other dishes. For this article, our focus is on the lotus flower.
Here is a lotus flower recipe to fire up your imagination:
Fried lotus flowers
6 tablespoons of lotus paste
24 lotus blossoms
3 tablespoons of lotus flour (available on Amazon)
2 cups of corn oil
4 egg whites
Process: Dry the petals and put a teaspoon of lotus paste on each of them, then fold over to cover the paste.
Mix egg whites and the lotus flour until they attain a thin, smooth consistency.
Heat the corn oil and dip petal sandwiches in the batter. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes, drain and serve while still warm.
Unless you are still stuck in Odyssey’s time when eating the lotus plant ushered people into a drug-induced utopia, you already know that the lotus flower does not stupefy its eaters. While this mild-tasting flower does not knock out the senses of its eaters, it definitely enhances the look and the taste of dishes.