by The Tapas Lunch Company
From the TLC Blog
I confess that I was blissfully ignorant about the tiger nut prior to living in Spain.
I should have known all about it. After all, they have been around for a long time.
They have been found in 6000 year old Egyptian tombs. They were placed in sarcophaguses as food for the dead.
Now I've tasted some food that was only fit for those with no pulse, but tiger nuts are too good for the dead.
Today, in some countries, the plant is looked upon as an annoying invasive weed.
Tiger nuts, known as chufas in Spain, are in the Alboraya area of Valencia. That has led to the town being labelled the birthplace of the refreshing drink Horchata (see earlier blog post).
The tiger nut is rich in starch, oil and sugar. They are planted in spring, in sandy soil, and harvested between October and December.
At that time the first action is to mow or burn off the green parts that are above the ground.
Then the root like tubers that store energy in the plant are dug up from underground. It is actually the tuber (tiger nut) that people eat or use to make Horchata. One plant can produce up to 75 nuts.
So much of the work undertaken with both harvesting the tiger nut, and turning it into Horchata, used to be done by hand. Now machines, be they on the farm or in the kitchen, make those jobs much easier.
The chufas are very tasty. The taste resembles that of almonds or hazelnuts. They are also good for you. They contain a high level of unsaturated fatty acids as well as vitamins H & P, which are good for your hair and blood respectively.
Also tiger nuts contain 23% fat, 30% starch and 7% protein as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. They are also rich in fibre, good for an energy boost and, it is claimed, good for the nerves.
Who would have thought a nut could be so good for you?
All this has led to the tiger nut being classified as a healthy whole food.
Some Spaniards eat the nuts raw and in their breakfast cereal. Others with a yoghurt and with fruit and vegetables.
To make the popular Horchata milky drink the nuts are mixed with water, sugar and some lemon juice.
I became hooked on tiger nuts in the raw at a Spanish football match, encouraged by my neighbour to try one before he ate the lot!
When he is not eating them, he uses them as a bait when he goes fishing. This is one very adaptable ingredient.
Anyone who wants to feed me them when I'm dead is more than welcome to try!