A Mystical Plant
The lotus flower is a symbol of beauty and purity. In Japan, Lotus root is considered an auspicious food that makes it essential in New Year dishes.
Lotus is an aquatic perennial rhizome that grow in the mud at the bottom of shallow ponds, lakes, lagoons, marshes and flooded fields. Its large, peltate leaves rise above the water surface on 1 to 2 m long petioles. The cup-like leaves have a central dot which collects drops of water. This central, circular marking shows in the flower as well. Dew, water droplets also collect around the edges of the leaves and pods. Each individual stem of leaf and flower rises separately from the root. The stems are hollow but extremely tough on the outside, with small, rather pointed dots along the entire length of the stem.
Lotus flowers differ markedly from those of water lilies, most notably through the ice-cream cone-shaped receptacle in the center, into which numerous free carpels are sunken.
Each individual stem of leaf and flower rises separately from the root. The stems are hollow but extremely tough on the outside, with small, rather pointed “dots” along the entire length of the stem.
The lotus plant is a fully edible food and is widely used in Oriental medicine. Flowers come in pink, yellow or white, with many folds.
It is considered to be one of the most ancient plants in existence. Evolutionary biologist Jane Shen-Miller of the University of California, found that lotus seeds nearly 500 years old were still able to germinate and flourish after such a long time.
Lotus has been in cultivation in China for more than 3,000 years, and has been grown not only for its cultural and ornamental value, but also for medicinal uses.
It was appreciated in Japan for the first time in Nara Period associated with Buddhism. Edible varieties since the Kamakura period were introduced repeatedly by the Zen monk Dogen from China and became the basis of the current native species spread throughout the country. Nowadays is widely cultivated in Japan
Lotus has deep religious meaning to Hindus and Buddhists, to whom the lotus flower symbolizes beauty, purity, transcendence, enlightenment, rebirth and fertility. In India, the lotus flower is considered to be of divine origin and is viewed as sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. Buddha was said to sleep on a lotus six months of the year, and Shambala (Buddhist heaven) is sometimes represented as a field of flowering sacred lotuses. In Hinduism the sacred lotus represents the sun, and is associated with mother goddesses as a symbol of fertility
The idea of enlightenment is symbolized by the life cycle of the lotus plant because it begins its life humbly in the mud of ponds but soon grows and sends stems and flowers well above the surface of the water (up to 50cm), thus showing the path of spiritual enfoldment. It also has unusual flowering habits. Its flowers open at dawn and close at about 2pm. Some lotuses are even known to open up at night and close during the day, ignoring the normal sunlight hours favored by the majority of flowering plants, and effectively transcending normal time cycles.
The blooming in the morning and folding in at dusk represent rebirth and regeneration. The chakras of the body are all represented with a different lotus flower per chakra.
The enlarged underground root of the lotus is edible. It is called renkon in Japanese. Lotus roots form a series of long, smooth tubers in the mud, a bit like a large string of sausages. Tubers are usually 15-25 cm long, although they can grow much larger. Both the stems and the tubers have large, hollow air passages that run through them – this is how the roots can survive growing in still, muddy water. The tubers are usually harvested at the end of summer.
Number of holes in the rhizome is usually one in the middle, nine around, and a total of 10. Holes in the lotus root, has created a variety of culinary ingenuity. Meat, mustard and cod roe stuffing make a tasteful look.
In China, Japan and India, for example, the rhizomes are roasted, pickled, candied or sliced and fried as chips. A paste made from the nutlets is used as a filling in ‘mooncakes’, traditional Chinese pastries. The young leaves, leaf stalks and flowers are eaten as vegetables in India.
It is considered a food that brings good luck so that it’s indispensable to auspicious occasions in Japan.
Lotus Root Dishes
Chirashi Sushi is served on New Year in Japan. Thin slices of sweet and sour lotus roots are used as topping.
How to make a flower design lotus root in cooking
Lotus Root Chips Recipe
Sliced Lotus roots
1 Peel the lotus roots and slice into thin rounds.
2 Put a little vinegar in the water and soak the sliced lotus roots.
3 Drain the water and wipe each slice well with kitchen towel.
4 Heat the frying oil. Fry the lotus root slices until they become hard and golden brown.
5 Transfer the fried lotus in the bat and sprinkle salt pepper.
The rhizomes or leaves are used with other herbs to treat sunstroke, fever, diarrhea, dysentery, dizziness, bleeding, hemorrhoids. The whole plant is used as an antidote to mushroom poisoning.
The embryonic seeds are used for high fever, cholera (Chinese), nervous disorders and insomnia.
The seeds are used to stop vomiting, relieve indigestion and diarrhea or just as tonic.
The pounded petals of flowers are used for syphilis, for cosmetic unguents (Java).
The flower stalk with other herbs is used to treat bleeding from the uterus.
The pods contain alkaloids that stop bleeding.
The juice taken from lotus roots improves the production of breast milk
The Sacred Lotus is often steeped for a week in wine (or other alcoholic beverages), or made into tea. The effects are mild sedation with a pleasant ecstatic sensual feeling. It is often employed as an aphrodisiac
Floral essence- http://lotusessence.webs.com/fotolia_2248081_xs.jpg
Renkon chips- http://recipe.hananaya.jp/images/renkon_chips.JPG
Chirashi sushi- http://bebeloveokazu.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/img_8131.jpg
Lotus Roots- http://tenka99.com/kiken/renkon02.jpg
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