Family: Sapindaceae

Synonyms: Pavia indica, Pawia indica.

Common name: Indian Horse Chestnut

Local aame :   Khanot (खनोट), khanor    

Khanot is a tall, deciduous tree found from moderate to high altitude in the Western Himalayas. Its tree is with a straight trunk and profuse branches usually in whorls. It is commonly seen growing  in wet temperate forests, shady ravines and other shady moist places up to an elevations of 1800-3000 m. Khanot is a cold tolerant tree and succeed best in well drained soil. It is sometime grown as an ornamental tree for its beautiful spreading crown, but require a large area. Tree can be planted along roadside for beautification. Khanot is native to Himalaya.

A tree of khanot bearing fruits

Seeds of khanot are edible and cooked. They are  ground into flour  called as tattwakhar after thoroughly leaching and drying. This flour is used as such to prepare chapattis. Tttwakhar is mainly cooked as a sweet dish HALWA which is eaten during fast. For preparing HALWA flour is dipped in water and thoroughly rinsed before cooking to remove its bitterness. For having better taste it can also be mixed with wheat flour to for making chapattis or HALWA. Seed starch extract is processed and fermented into seek, In past seed flour of khanot was used as a emergency  food and eaten during famine. Local people harvest seeds of khanot from the wild habitat for their local use as a food, medicine,soap and source of materials.

Seeds paste and oil of Khanot are useful in treating  rheumatic pain. Khanot seeds are known to have a mixture of  poisonous saponins, one of these is described as aescine which get easily crystallizes so is harmless 1.They also contains flavonoid glycosides, aesculine, albumin and fatty oils 1.  Due to saponins seeds are bitter in flavor, but can be easily removed by fine washing of seeds in running water and thorough drying and cooking. Inhabitants of Western Himalayas also use seeds as  a good soap substitute and use their extract for washing clothes and hairs. Khanot wood is considered good for preparing useful household items.

Harvested Khanot Capsules

Khanot seeds used to be a great source of entertainment for kids in hills. They used to make a plough of khanot seeds and wood for playing. This plough is symbol of farmers plow drawn by  bullock for ploughing the agricultural land. Children call this plough HALDHNU BOLDHNU in their local dialect.

A plough HALDHNU BOLDHNU of khanot seeds and wood used and prepared by kids for playing
Kids playing with HALDHNU BOLDHNU of khanot seed and wood

Khanot Plant:

Plant is large, deciduous tree up to 40 m tall,with a  dense, spreading crown

Leaves are glabrous, opposite, long- stalked, digitately compound; leaflets 5-9, oblong- lanceolate, long pointed, toothed, 15-25 cm long; petiole 10-15 cm long.

Flowers are yellowish- white, red- streaked, irregular, in large thyrsoid cyme- bearing terminal panicles. Petals 4, 1.5- 2 cm long. Stamens 7, longer than petals.

Capsules  are rough, 2.54.5 cm ling, brown, ovoid, containing 1-3 large, globose, dark- brown seeds.

Seed  large, about 35mm in diameter.

Khanot tree

Edible Khanot seeds are harvested during winter season.To ensure sustainable harvesting rotational collection of seeds need to be promoted and some seed should be left in parent plant for regeneration.

Edible Uses:

Seeds of  Khanot  are cooked by the locals of hills in Western Himalaya. People eat ground seed in the form of flour to harness their medicinal values. Due to saponin content in seeds they can be poisonous, so should be properly washed, dried and cooked before use.

Seeds of Khanot

Seeds are usually ground into flour called as tattwakhar by locals and made into chapattis. They are also mixed with wheat flour to prepare chapattis.

Chapatti made up of khanot seed flour

A sweet dish HALWA can be prepared by tattwakhar only or by  mixing  it with sooji or wheat flour. Pure tattwakhar cooked as HALWA is preferred by women during their fast. Flour is thoroughly washed for 10 -12 hour before cooking to remove bitter saponin . HALWA made up of tattwakhar and wheat flour is better in taste.

Seed extract is processed and fermented like SIRRA ( another famous traditional dish of Western Himalaya) to prepare seek. Seek is cooked in same way as SIRRA.

HALWA:

Ingredient:

Khanot seed flour, 500 g; vegetable oil or clarified butter,250 g; sugar, 200; walnut seed,20 g, dry coconut powder,50g; raisins and other grated dry fruits,25g.

Dried Khanot seed ground into flour for cooking

Method:

Put 250 g ghee (clarified butter) in a pan and roast khanot seed flour and sooji well. Add to it water three times more of roasted flour, keep on stirring it and add sugar, cook till water get absorb. Add  to it coconut powder and grated dry fruits. Now  HALWA is ready to serve.   

HALWA made up of Khanot seed flour

Seek:

Ingredient:

Seek, 200 g; vegetable oil or clarified butter, 250g; sugar, 200.

Method:

Soak seek in water for 2-3 hour and mix well with sugar. In hot oil cook it for 20 to 30 minutes. Now seek is ready to serve.

Sirra of khanot
Sirra (Traditional sweet dish) of khanot seed seek

Food Value:

The seeds which constitute the edible portion of the fruit contain 50.5% moisture. The total sugars content is 5.58%, whereas the reducing and non- reducing sugars are 4.59% and 0.94% respectively. The proteins and minerals contents are 0.358 and 1.934% respectively. Phosphorus, 0.124; potassium, 0.733; calcium, 0.0495; magnesium, 0.042 and iron, 0.00484 % respectively 1 .

Seek advice from a professional before using this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

Khanot is used medically and extracts from the seeds are also used industrially. As medicine, it is especially used for the complaints of veins, such as phlebitis, haemorrhoids, vari-cose veins; in ulcers; to prevent thrombosis; in some cases of colic. Oil from the seeds is externally applied in rheumatism. The hydrosycoumarin glycoside aesculin from the bark of the branch absorbs ultra- violet rays and is an ingredient for suntan oil 2 .

Other Uses

Khanot seed flour is also given to milch animal and considered good for enhancing milk yield. Seeds are are good soap substitute for locals. People usually chopp  seed into small pieces and boil in water. This water is then used for washing the hairs, body and clothes etc. Wood of tree is useful to construct low cost household materials and agricultural tools.

Beehives made up of Khanot wood

It is also utilized to prepare decorative article and along with wood of Morus alba, Cedrus deodara,Juglans regia, khanot wood is used for making God idol for temples,

Idol of God “Vishnu” in a temple made up of Khnaot wood along with wood of Morus alba, Cedrus deodara,Juglans regia

Source of Income:

Seek of Khanot seed is a good source of income for local people of hills. it is sold at the cost of Rs 500 / kg in many parts of Western Himalaya. Decorative items and God idol from khanot wood are also sold at high price in local market and are good source of earning for local of Western Himalaya. People can earn Rs 30,000 to 1,00,000 depending upon size and quality of idol.

Professionally build HALDHNU BOLDHNU of khanot can be used for selling

Reference:

  1. Parmar. C. and Kaushal. M.K. (1982) Wild Fruits of the Sub-Himalayan Region. Kalyani Publishers. New Delhi.
  2. . Purohit SS,Sharma AK, Prajapati ND, Kumar T. (2009); A handbook of medicinal plants; a complete source book ,Edition. 2;352-3.

42 thoughts on “Aesculus indica (Colebr. ex Cambess.) Hook.- Khanot (खनोट), khanor

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