As the chilly season starts to make its way in Egypt, many sights begin to appear on the streets of the populous country: boots, scarves, batata (sweet potato) carts, grilled corn, and sahlab (an Egyptian milk pudding beverage). One of such sights that most Egyptians wait for is ‘Abu Farwa’ (chestnuts).
Kastenaa’ (Arabic for chestnuts) are popularly nicknamed as ‘Abu Farwa’ — which translates to ‘covered with fur’ — because they are surrounded by a prickly shell while growing.
As Egyptians, many of us like to enjoy nuts as a snack, while watching a sports match, in family gatherings, or while watching a movie. In winter specifically, many like to sip on a warm beverage or nibble on a delicious snack to keep them warm.
On cold winter days, chestnuts can be a great source of warmth. Whether roasted, boiled or cooked, these delicious treats are packed with nutrients and multiple health benefits.
An excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, Abu Farwa can aid in controlling blood sugar, regulating blood pressure, improving heart health, and weight loss. These reddish-brown nuts also include a variety of antioxidants and contain fewer calories in comparison with other types of nuts.
How do we eat them?
A cozy treat, the most common way of eating chestnuts in Egypt is the way they are most commonly eaten around the world: roasting them. After washing them thoroughly, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius to prepare it for roasting. With a sharp knife, cut through the shells to help the chestnuts cook through and to stop them from exploding in the oven. Arrange them in the oven and let them roast for 15 to 20 minutes until they soften. Remove them from the oven, let them sit for a few minutes to cool, and they are ready to be served.
Another way to enjoy chestnuts is by boiling them. Bring a pot of water to boil and lower the heat to allow the nuts to simmer for nearly 30 minutes. Like the previous method, make sure to pierce the shells of the chestnuts beforehand.
There are plenty of recipes, both savory and sweet, to enjoy chestnuts. However, most Egyptians simply prefer to buy them roasted from street vendors and have them as a classic winter snack to keep them warm.
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