Indian Cooking with Pistachios (Pista): Things to Know

Pistachio nuts are oblong in shape and dark green in color. They are encased in a cream-colored shell. They start as reddish or yellowish fruit and grow in clusters.

After they ripen, the natural burst of pistachios shells along a seam exposes the seed inside. Pistachios are available in the market either shelled or in-shell.

What is Pistachio (Pista)?

Indian Cooking with Pistachios

Pistachio or Pista is a type of tree nut that has a distinct green color and a unique flavor. The pistachio nut is encased in a hard, beige-colored shell that splits open when the nut is ripe.

Pistachios are commonly eaten as a snack, either roasted or salted, and are also used in a variety of dishes, including baked goods, desserts, and savory dishes.

They are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to any diet.

Pistachios are also often used to make pistachio butter, which can be used as a spread or as an ingredient in various recipes.

Uses of Pistachios in Indian Cuisines

Uses of Pistachios in Indian Cuisines

Nuts are naughty and nice. Moreover, they make any sweet dish notoriously delicious. They are loved for their taste and health benefits as well.

But why only desserts and confectionaries? Some Indian savory curries also make good use of their goodness.

They are integral to many famous Indian delicacies.  Ripe pistachios are a great delight for consumption, especially for those who love the crunchiness of nuts. They are consumed both raw and roasted.

Desserts

Indian cuisines, especially the desserts, are very generous about using a variety of nuts including pistachios. These are almost staples in many “luminary” Indian desserts such as firni, pudding, cookies, pilafs, and pista barfi.

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Pistachios barfi is a delicious dessert, almost like an Indian variation of fudge, with a lovely dash of India’s traditional culinary signature. The attractive green color and nutty flavor make the dessert more tempting.

Pistachios are soaked in water for hours and then blended into a paste that is lazily cooked with sugar, cardamom powder, and dollops of ghee.

Pistachio phirni is a classic dessert from North India. It is a must-relish delicacy in religious festivals and other celebrations.

You can use pistachios along with other dry fruits or use only plenty of pistachios to give the dish a decent twist on a different nutty note. Firni is traditionally served in Shikoras, which are small earthen bowls.

Rice kheer – the very traditional and most popular Indian dessert is not difficult to make. The best way to make it more delicious is to garnish it with plenty of chopped dry fruits like cashew nuts, almonds, and pistachios.

Mouth-watering gajar ka halwa (carrot halwa) is a popular carrot pudding. Though a North Indian dessert, it is now loved across the country.

Grated carrot slow-cooked in milk flavored with cardamom powder and garnished with chopped cashews, pistachios and almonds can make you droll any day, any time.

Shrikhand is a humble sweet dish made from dahi. The dish is colored with a pinch of saffron, flavored with cardamom, and sweetened with powdered sugar. Pistachios are added for some crunchiness. When served cold, the dish tastes yummiest.

Thandai mousse pampers you with a desi twist. The rich, dense and creamy mix is set into a mousse and served cold.

This is a Holi-special drink. If cardamom powder infuses a drooling flavor, khush-khush, almonds, and pistachios lend a spicy touch to the mousse.

Soup

Green soup is not always about green vegetables. Pistachios infuse a rustic, nutty flavor into the dish and make its pleasant mouth feel on a different note.

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Chicken 

Usually, pistachios are not used in Indian curries. However, if used in chicken, it brings a creamy and crunchy flavor to the delicacy that is a teaser for taste buds.

How Does Pistachio Taste?

Pistachios have a unique flavor that is difficult to describe, but many people find it to be delicious. They have a rich, slightly sweet taste that is nutty and somewhat earthy, with a hint of saltiness.

Some people also describe pistachios as having a subtle, almost floral flavor, which comes from the natural oils in the nut.

The texture of pistachios is also a key part of their appeal – they are crunchy and slightly chewy, with a satisfying texture that makes them enjoyable to eat as a snack or as an ingredient in various dishes.

Overall, pistachios have a flavor and texture that many people find highly appealing, which is why they are such a popular nut around the world.

How Do You Cook Raw Pistachios?

Raw pistachios can be enjoyed as a nutritious snack on their own or used as an ingredient in various recipes. Here are some ways to cook raw pistachios:

Roasting: Roasting raw pistachios brings out their natural flavor and enhances their crunchiness.

To roast pistachios, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and spread the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly golden brown.

Boiling: If you want to remove the shells from raw pistachios, you can boil them to loosen the shells. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the raw pistachios.

Boil them for 3-5 minutes, then drain and rinse them with cold water. Use your fingers to remove the shells from the pistachios.

Grinding: Raw pistachios can be ground into a fine powder and used as a gluten-free flour substitute in baking. Simply grind the raw pistachios in a food processor or blender until they are finely ground.

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Stir-fry: Raw pistachios can also be used in stir-fry dishes for added crunch and flavor. Add them to the pan with other vegetables and stir-fry until they are lightly toasted and fragrant.

Overall, raw pistachios are a versatile ingredient that can be cooked in a variety of ways depending on your preferences and the recipe you are using.

Questions & Answers:

Why Are Pistachios Soaked in Water?

If you soak Pistachios in the water then you can simply peel off the skin.

Should Pistachios Be Eaten Raw or Roasted?

You can eat the Pistachios raw or roasted, the choice is yours.

Do You Need to Wash Raw Pistachios Before Roasting?

Yes, you need to wash Pistachios before roasting.

How Do You Prepare Pistachios to Eat?

You crack the outer shell, soak the Pistachios and peel off the skin of the nuts and then simply eat it.

What are Pistachios Called in Different Languages?

Pistachios are known as Pesta in Bengali and Pista in Hindi.

Conclusion

Pistachios are a type of tree nut that is popular for its distinct green color, unique flavor, and crunchy texture.

They are commonly used in various sweet dishes in Indian cuisines, such as pistachios barfi, pistachio phirni, and rice kheer, and also used in savory dishes like soup and chicken.

Pistachios are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to any diet.

They can be enjoyed as a snack or used as an ingredient in various recipes, and are often roasted or salted to enhance their flavor.

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