Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Roasted Chestnuts

My first experience of roasted chestnuts was at a local winter fair. Team of two, wearing funny costumes in addition to roasting the chestnuts, were doing juggling, whistling holiday tunes. And they were handing out free samples; all to attract the customers. We tried the free sample… surprise, it was not like any nut I tasted until then.
Chestnuts (Marrons)
The first word that came out of my mouth was ‘sweet potato’. Roasted chestnut tasted more like a roasted sweet potato, than a nut. When opened from the shell, they were warm to touch, had a starchy, crumbly texture, a unique sweet smell and buttery sweet taste. We were sold and we bought both roasted chestnuts for the ride home and raw ones to tryout at our home. They also gave us a pamphlet about how to roast chestnuts, different methods and some tips and recipes etc.,

From then on, every winter, we look forward to chestnuts. These winter holiday treats are not that expensive compared to other nuts. 2 dollars something for a pound and few roasted chestnuts fill you good. I am going to leave the cultural significance and nutritional value of roasted chestnuts to the storytellers and experts. I am sure you are going to see many more posts/paeans about chestnuts in future weeks from food blogosphere.:)

Roasting Chestnuts in an Iron Skillet on Stovetop (Almost done)

How we do the roasting: First we make a cut in the shell of chestnut, with a sharp knife. This is to release the steam from inside, which builds up during the roasting process. Otherwise, each one will explode just like pressure cooker whose valve is blocked. So take time and make a cut or a hole in each shell.

Turning them once in a while, roast them in an iron skillet. It’s better to use the skillet that you don’t normally use for regular cooking. Roasting process is not good for the vessel. I accumulated several iron skillets in my quest to find the right one. The brand new one, with no patina, I use it to for roasting not only for chestnuts also for peanuts.

Do the roasting, on medium high heat, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the shells are all black and cracked. When done to perfection, you can easily open the shell, the chestnut inside is gold in colour and piece of chestnut has rosy hue and sweet to taste.

Roasted Chestnuts (Marrons)
Pure, simple and satisfying – roasted chestnuts on a snowy winter day.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chestnuts (Marrons) (Monday December 12, 2005 at 9:11 am- permalink)
Comments (34)

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34 comments for Roasted Chestnuts »

  1. Indira, I just love these. My mom used to make them for us as kids, and now I make them for my hubby. Its nice when they are warm. Very delicious!

    Comment by Meena — December 12, 2005 @ 9:24 am

  2. Meena..What a sweet mother you have. I agree, they are best when warm.
    Vijay, my dear husband loves to do the roasting. Roasting chestnuts is his domain.:)

    Comment by Indira — December 12, 2005 @ 9:31 am

  3. I *love* roasted chestnuts! My Grampa used to get them during the winter, and I could hardly wait for them to finish…I’d be burning my fingers just to get to them. Yummmmm…

    Matt’s not a fan, but perhaps it’s time to get Alex turned on to those roasted delights?!

    Comment by Stephanie — December 12, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

  4. Your chestnut brought back the memories of my child wood. My dad use to break these chestnut and give to me. I havent tried after being to US. So these chestnuts are available in the local stores like albertsons, safeway. Do let me know, will shop for it this week.

    Comment by Priya — December 12, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

  5. Stephanie.. More than me, Vijay loves roasted chestnuts. I have to sit and watch, he will do all the work:)
    I am sure Alex is going to like these delights and thankyou later for introducing these wonderful winter food.:)

    Priya.. They are sold in almost all US grocery shops during winter. You can buy them loose or in packets.
    You’ve eaten these in Coimbattore? I am surprised, I didn’t know these are avialble in Inida. Priya, I’d love to know thier Tamil name,what do you call them in Tamil?

    Comment by Indira — December 12, 2005 @ 2:18 pm

  6. I used to love chestnuts … I even cooked them in the microwave (a lot of trial and error) after making a slit in the nut. But I’m rather wary of them now because I discovered that the chestnuts which have a worm inside are the ones that exploded… ughggggh 🙂

    Comment by shammi — December 12, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

  7. Even i have never heard or seen them in any of the grocery stores in coimbatore. I have never tasted them in my life ,i have tasted almost all kinds of nuts and the one i hate is brazilian nuts .yday i got almonds, walnuts, pecans, spanish peanuts 340 gms each for just 3$ , so picked all of em’, they dint have chestnut. I wanted to try ur almond burger and carrot cake but i forgot to buy pancake flour. So gonna make almond burgers today, shall try it and give u the feedback.Do u have a recipe for pecan pie or any other recipe that has pecans ?

    Comment by priya,ar — December 12, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

  8. I have had these in kerala when we vist for vacation. I will have to find out the name from my dad in malayalam. I am not sure what they call in tamil.

    Indira says…
    Priya, if you don’t mind, could you please find out what chestnuts are called in Malayalam? I will add this Indian name in my glossary. Thanks!

    Comment by Priya — December 12, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  9. I’d love to have some of your chestnuts right now! Thanks for showing us how to roast them the proper way. Next time I see them in the market, I’ll pick them up and try to prepare them.


    Indira says…
    Thanks Paz. This is how we roast them at home, proper? I don’t know about that.:)
    Do let me know how they turn out. Thanks!

    Comment by Paz — December 12, 2005 @ 4:54 pm

  10. Indira, you should check out Zinnur’s website for chestnut puree as well:

    Indira says…
    Thanks for the link, Fethiye. Very interesting, I might follow and prepare homemade chestnut puree.:)

    Comment by fethiye — December 12, 2005 @ 7:19 pm

  11. You are right indira,I think I interpreted chestnut with some other nut. In hindi it is called “Chota akhrot”. Hope this helps for you to add to your glossary:)

    That’s ok, Priya. Yesterday night, I did some googling but didn’t find any Tamil/Malayalam name.
    Hindi name is very cute, isn’t it?:)

    Comment by Priya — December 12, 2005 @ 11:29 pm

  12. Castañas!!! When they appear along Philippine streets, that means Christmas is coming. Even those who are not fond of chestnuts associate their wafting scent with the holiday season.

    Wonderful entry, Indira! I especially love the step-by-step picture. Thank you for posting this.

    Indira says…
    Thanks Karen. It’s been a while since I saw you here.:).You are quite busy with the events, good for you. I was following regularly, though I didn’t leave any comments.:)
    Are they called Castanas in Philippines?

    Comment by Karen — December 12, 2005 @ 11:57 pm

  13. I like the taste of roasted chestnuts …Its been a very long time since I have had them..thanks for those pictures,Indira..:)

    Indira says…
    Thanks Sailaja. Have you been to Europe or US?

    Comment by Sailaja — December 13, 2005 @ 12:26 am

  14. Hi..I will try this today.. Just in time, I got stock of chestnuts which I have no idea what to do. thanks

    Indira says…
    Thanks Grace! Do let me know how it turn out.

    Comment by grace — December 13, 2005 @ 12:45 am

  15. Never tried one before and here is the inspiration. Thank you for the post Indira. You are just marvelous. Not seen u at my dhaba for few days. Busy?

    Indira says..
    Thanks VKN. Little busy, not doing the regular blog visits.

    Comment by VK Narayanan — December 13, 2005 @ 6:24 am

  16. Lisbon ( where I live ) is full of people roasting those chestnuts and selling them by the dozen raped in newspapper . I use the oven to roast them , slightly wet and sprinkled with salt . In Portugal we do also eat them boiled , in water with salt and a seed we call “erva doce” (Pimpinella anisum) and is similar to fennel.

    Indira says…
    Wow.. how wonderful to get hot, roasted chestnuts from a streetside vendor on a cold day! Eventhough we live in a very small town, nothing like that occurs here, no street vendors, nothing.:)
    I am little bit afraid of roasting them using a oven. They do jump around even with the cuts. I have yet to try the boiling method. Thanks for the ideas, JP.

    Comment by jp — December 13, 2005 @ 6:51 am

  17. Hi Indira,

    I was looking for these in the grocery store the other day…glad to have found them on your post…so I know what they look like now 🙂
    A tad dissapointed that I am not on your links section anymore 🙁
    But I guess I only have myself to blame for it….been too busy with school and finals to update the blog…
    Have a great holiday season, and happy cooking!!

    Indira says…
    Hi AA, I am so sorry, my links are growing long and you are not updating enough, so I removed your blog link. Forgive me if I made you feel bad, here you are working hard, I made you sad..(bangs head to a wall :)). I am going to add your link again, now.
    Go on, don’t worry about links anymore, go read and do good in exams.:)
    Best wishes, Indira

    Comment by AA — December 13, 2005 @ 4:16 pm

  18. Indira, I’m very much impressed with your site and I don’t know how much time I used to spend in a day……

    I never seen this nut back home…. But it is available and known as SINGHARA. In most languages (Tamil. Kannada. Malayalam. Marathi. Bengali …) it know only by this name. – I never tried this recipe


    Comment by kingini — December 13, 2005 @ 4:34 pm

  19. Kingini… Thank you somuch for the information.
    and thanks for your kind words about my blog.I really appreciate them

    Comment by Indira — December 13, 2005 @ 7:48 pm

  20. I have been a regular visitor to your site. All your recipes rock. Great Job, keep up the good work.

    Can you please suggest a good substitue for egg whites used in your recipe?

    Comment by RA — November 20, 2006 @ 8:24 am

  21. This brought back memories of Srinagar (Kashmir). Chestnuts are native to Kashmir,as are Walnuts and Almonds. I remember my cousins would put a few in the coals of the kangri (terracotta coal-heater encased in a portable wicker basket, to carry under the firans that Kashmiris wear!)and roasting them this way!

    Comment by Anita — November 23, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

  22. Hello,

    First time here.

    I am not sure if singhara (waterchestnuts) and chestnuts are the same thing. They sound more like the Chinese water chestnuts, which are different than chestnuts. You might want to check.

    When I was a child I remember chestnuts roasting on the corners of streets. What a delight. My mother unfortunately boiled them. I hated boiled chestnuts (like the difference between a boiled potato and a french fry or a roasted potato), although I have grown to like them now.

    In any case…as a grown-up, I once thought I would make my own roast chestnuts. Happily I tossed them in a pan and into the oven. A little while later we thought Third World War had erupted. It took us a while to realize that it was the chestnuts exploding. We were also scared to open the oven because we did not want a missile chestnut. We turned the oven off and waited. Of course it was terribly messy. But as long as you put a slit in them it will be fine. And you can just boil the chestnuts on top of the stove and then peel them to make the puree.

    I will go get some and roast them. Certainly , now that I know what I am doing I will have better luck.


    Comment by Ann — November 24, 2006 @ 2:01 am

  23. A funny story about roasting chestnuts: Long ago, when my wife and I were first dating, she was at my apartment on a cold Chicago Winter night. Since I loved chestnuts so much (and probably also to impress my cute date 🙂 I decided to roast up a batch. I was new at it, and only poked holes in the shells instead of making the deep cross-wise slits you show on your page. Also, for some reason i was roasting them on a baking sheet in the oven, instead of on the stovetop. Just as we settled in for some cozy movie-watching, we heard a bang – then another – from the kitchen. I raced to the oven door and bang! bang bang! more chestnuts exploded into my face. I was startled, not hurt, and when I returned to the living room my future wife burst into a peal of laughter. The beard I wore in those days was filled with shrapnel from exploded chestnuts. We laugh to this day about the chestnut beard.

    Comment by daveklop — November 26, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  24. […] All about roasting Chestnuts @ Indira’s […]

    Pingback by Vindu » Try this — October 5, 2007 @ 1:57 pm

  25. Indira, I recently got a iron panniyaram pan. I don’t know how to season it so it becomes like a nonstick pan. Do u have any ideas and tips? Also, I don’t have an iron skillet to roast the chestnuts in…can it be baked?

    Shobana, for first few tries, brush the cooking surface with liberal amounts of oil. or butter or shortening. This helps to season the pan.
    I never did but I think you can bake chestnuts. During cooking process the steam builds up inside the shell and they jump and make noise like diwali crackers. so it is very important to make a cut in them baking or stove-top roasting.
    Hope this helps.
    – Indira

    Comment by Shobana — December 14, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  26. Can you tell me how to dry roast peanuts.

    Comment by anita — December 30, 2007 @ 6:12 pm

  27. Hi all

    I was wondering how you can tell if the chesnuts are good. I was really excited to try to roast some chestnuts but unfortunately they turned out to have grey, fuzzy stuffon them once i opened the shell. Is there any way to tell if they are bad before you open them?

    Comment by deepa — January 15, 2008 @ 11:39 am

  28. Did anyone notice the absolute similarity in taste between chestnut and jack fruit seed (palakkottai in Tamil)? When I first tried the roasted chestnut, I said this is definitely something I know. After a few times it just came alive to me. It could pass for palakkottai

    Comment by Gomathy — November 20, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  29. where can we buy these kind of chestnuts in houston, texas?

    Comment by ley — December 8, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

  30. I tried this today and we all loved it, especially me. Growing up my favorite snack was roasted jack fruit seed and I have been missing it since I moved to the US. So I was surprised to see that these roasted chestnuts tasted very much like roasted jack fruit seeds. Thanks for posting this recipe Indira.

    Comment by Madhuram — January 2, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

  31. It is available in Kashmir market during early fall season.Local name Panjaeeb Gariee is delicious after baking but occurrence of Kernel rot makes it bitter to taste.

    Comment by prof. B L Puttoo — August 28, 2010 @ 12:22 am

  32. Hi, Indira.
    I am so happy to have some chestnuts left to roast on a cold day as it is in NY now! And to see chestnuts here, too ; – ) The ones I have I bought at TJs, they’re from Italy.
    I use a stove top “oven”, sometimes called a “potato baker.” I ‘ve soaked them in water for a while, made the criss- crosses, then wrapped a handful of chestnuts in tin foil before putting them in the foil in the stove top “baker.” A cast iron pot, like what you’ve shown, is probably preferable. So for now this is what I’m using.

    Comment by nyginko — January 9, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  33. hi,
    i was searching for what is chestnut in hindi, just read that people on Gluten free diet can eat it. saw various comments seems it is available in south india. can you pleasse pass the details ? is it available in north also

    Comment by kamal — October 17, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  34. thanks

    Comment by 26 january speech in hindi — January 14, 2017 @ 4:28 am

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