Oh! what a wonderful time of the the year. Roasting, toasting and more. It’s chestnuts. "Chesnuts roasted on open fire". This song is legendary and I love to listen to it during Christmas time.
Because of their high starch content (twice that of potatoes), chestnuts have historically been used more as a vegetable than a nut. In some parts of the world they are still used as a potato substitute. This speaks of the chestnut's versatility. Roast them, use them in soups or as an accompaniment to vegetable dishes, puree them, or add them to stuffing. However you use chestnuts, you can be sure that this ancient food, is a good nutritional choice over the holidays. And once you figure out how to penetrate their forbidding hard mahogany exterior, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a wonderful low fat, high fiber holiday treat. In Asian dishes, water chestnuts are variedly used. Especially the chinese dishes.
It tastes similar to the Jackfruit seeds. I remember, in India especially in Mumbai during june/july we find plenty of Jackfruit during" Whod Poornima". We don't throw away the seeds. we steam them or use in curries. In konkani they are called, "Bhinkna".
My first big Blunder: The first time I roasted them, I score an X on some chestnuts and I left some without doing it. it was time cosuming . I got tired making an "X". So I did a short cut. I did not follow the technique and my chestnuts got exploded in the oven and it was all over the oven in tiny pieces. What a disaster? Please avoid that mistake? some easy techniques are taken from here and there and then I have applied my techniques with trial and error. That's what is cooking all about.
While scoring a "X" with a knife, I have encountered many cuts on my finger. It is tedious and slippery. So you need something study like "chestnutter". Looking much like a garlic press, the Chestnutter takes the work (and anxiety) out of shelling dozens of chestnuts, and more importantly, leaves your fingers intact. I did it old school style.
So how exactly do you go about cracking this particular nut? First, using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score an X on the flat side of the chestnut. Place scored chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. This will cause the X to open up a little. If you actually want roasted chestnuts (rather than simply roasting them for peeling the skin), keep them in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until they are tender. While the chestnuts are still hot, peel the shell, then remove the papery skin. Once they cool, the shells are difficult to remove, so keep the batch warm while you work.
1/2 -1 pounds of chestnuts
2-3 cups of water
salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
A pinch of Chaat Masala
In a medium pot bring the water to a boil. Add all the above spices and salt and then add chestnuts to the boiling water. It is easy to score an "X", once they are boiled or steamed. Boil them for 20-25 minutes, till the chesnuts are tender. You might come across some bad chestnuts. They are moldy and tastes bitter or they are darkened black. Throw away if you come across them. Strain all the liquid and let the chestnuts sit for a while. After that then be ready to roast them.
Oven preparation:(Roast) In the meantime, Preheat the oven to 425 degree and in an alluminium foil wrap all the chestnuts and roast them for 10-15 minutes. Tastes great masala Chestnuts! Eat them as a snack.