Bhea is what we call lotus root. It’s a very popular vegetable in sindhi cuisine and one of my favourites to eat. It also makes the most delicious veggie kebabs or burgers that you could fool any meat lover with!
What is Bhea?
Bhea or fresh lotus root is essentially the root of the lotus flower plant that grows in lakes and ponds. The root is a long hollow pinkish brown tube with smaller holes inside. I find fresh lotus root quite easily at my local asian grocer here. At the grocery store it is normally chopped into smaller 12 inch bulbs to be more manageable. When you cut into the lotus root horizontally, it has the prettiest flower pattern created from all the hollow tubes inside the root. The flavour of bhea is pretty bland by itself. There is a slight sweetness to the lotus root, as well as a bit of a crunchy texture. Similar to water chestnut or bamboo shoot. But that also means it will take on the flavour of whatever it is cooked with which works well in curries and kebabs!
Bhea Kebab or Vegetable Shami Kebab
My two absolute favourite ways to eat bhea are to either slice the bhea really thin, and fry them into bhea chips or blend up the raw bhea and mix them with some mashed potatoes to make these deliciously tangy bhea kebabs! It is essentially a veggie version of shami kebab which is traditionally made with beef. I would argue that these taste even better than the meat version!
I made this version of bhea kebabs gluten free, dairy free, and whole30 compliant so you can feel good about making these too!
All you need is some raw bhea, potatoes a few basic spices and the secret ingredients: amchoor and anardana powder. Amchoor (dried mango powder) and anardana (pomegranate seeds) add a great tang to the flavour of these kebabs. It will make you coming back for more!
Give them a try and let me know what you think! And let me know if I should share our family bhea chips recipe too?
Bhea Kebab (Vegan, Paleo, Whole30)
- 700 g bhea (raw lotus root)
- 450 g medium potatoes, boiled (About 2 medium potatoes)*
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
- 2 tsp anardana powder (dried pomegranate seed)
- 1 small onion
- 2-3 small green chillies
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or tapioca starch or breadcrumbs)
- avocado oil (for frying)
- Wash, roughly chop and boil your potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool.
- While the potatoes are boiling, start to clean, peel and roughly chop your lotus root.
- Using a food processor with the blade attachment, chop the lotus root until finely chopped. There will be quite a bit of liquid given off by the chopped bhea. Use a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands. You can even use a cheese cloth to strain it. The dryer you get them, the crispier your kebabs will be! Set aside the drained chopped bhea in a large bowl.
- Back to the boiled potatoes, mash them well until smooth. Add to the chopped bhea and add the seasonings: 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp amchoor and 2 tsp anar dana. Mix well and set aside.
- In the same food processor, blend the onion and 2 green chillies until finely chopped. Add to the bhea kebab mixture with 1 tbsp arrowroot powder. Mix well.
- The mixture should hold together when pressed into a round kebab shape. If you find that it is falling apart, you can add a tablespoon more arrowroot powder, breadcrumbs or one egg to help bind the mixture. Form a test kebab into a round thin patty. A bit smaller than the size of your palm.
- Heat a large frying pan with 2 tbsp avocado oil on medium heat. Add the test kebab and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until it turns golden, flip and cook 2 minutes more on the other side until golden.
- Taste the first kebab to make sure you like the seasonings. Adjust to taste. Then form the remaining mixture into patties and pan fry until golden on both sides. You should have about 18-20 thin palm sized kebabs in total.
- Serve immediately with some ketchup or imli chutney on the side.
Here’s a few more great veg desi options that would go well with these Bhea Kebab: