Makhana (Foxnut), also known as Gorgon Nut, is grown in India, Korea, Japan and Russia.  Only  Bihar produces 90% of the world production of fox nut specially Northern part of Bihar, constituting districts of Madhubani, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Saharsha, Katihar, Purnia, Supaul, Kishanganj and Araria, are agro climatically suitable for makhana cultivation and produce more than 85% of the makhana.  Besides this, it is also grown ( only 5% ) as a natural crop in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura and Manipur.

Makhana grows profusely in the stagnant water of wetlands, tanks, ponds, lakes and ditches in the northern parts of Bihar.  Besides stagnant water bodies, it is also cultivated in paddy fields and low-lying areas.

Processing of makhana

Processing of makhana is cumbersome, labour intensive and time consuming process and involves human drudgery to a great extent.  Seeds of  Makhana (Guri) are sun dried for ease of transportation and temporary storage.  It is stored in water tanks or water is sprinkled frequently to maintain the quality of the seed. Usually, guri is stored for 20-25 days in the clusters. The sun-dried nuts are then categorized into 1 to 19 grades according to their sizes by means of a set of sieves. Subsequently, nuts are heated in earthen pitcher or cast iron pan by placing them over fire and stirring them continuously. The pre-heated seeds are kept for tempering in basket/pots for 45-72 hours, which loosen the kernels from the hard seed coat.

Roasting and popping are the most painstaking operations of makhana processing. About 300 gm of pre-heated and tempered nuts are taken and roasted in a cast iron pan in single layer over the fire at 290 degree Celsius to 340 degree Celsius surface temperature with continuous stirring.  When crackling sound is heard after 1.5 – 2 min, 5-7 roasted seeds are scooped quickly by hand and kept on hard surface and sudden impact force is applied on them by means of a wooden hammer. As the hard shell breaks, the kernel pops out in expanded form, which is called makhana.

Makhana is procured by wholesalers/traders from villages ( Fori who is prepare Makhana ) and brought to the major trading locations. The produce is graded manually at the godowns of the local wholesalers/Traders and it is separated into approximately three grades viz. Lawa, Murra and Thurri. Lawa is also grading viz. 3 to 6 soot ( one soot means 3.17mm ) and prepared handpick makhana also. Depending upon the requirement and demand from buyers of the various cities Makhana is packed in various pack sizes and grades.

Foxnut (Makhana) can be mixed with vegetables, popped like corn and made into yummy porridge. Makhana has been proven to be high nutrients food which
is attributed its high fiber content, low glycemic index and phytochemical constituents. It is low in calories. Its fiber content acts as an absorbent. Because of this property, it is commonly used for treating diarrhea. 100 grams Makhana (fox nuts) contains 350 calories from which 308 calories come from carbohydrates and 39 calories from protein content. It has an insignificant amount of fats and no trans-fat. Moreover, it is high in potassium and provides a little amount of calcium. Nutritional Information on vitamin and mineral content is not yet fully studied. But some research papers suggested that it contains Vitamin B1, carotene, iodine, iron, and phosphorous in addition to potassium and calcium.

The sodium content in Makhana is insignificant, but nutritional value changes when it is further processed with spices and salt. Unflavored Makhana has almost no cholesterol, low fat and low sodium. It an ideal snack for people having frequent hunger pangs.