Surprised to find summery watermelons in the market, this time of the year? Sweet, juicy and cool, they are from Karnataka.
CHILL OUT: Enjoy the deluge of watermelons in the market.
SUDDENLY FRUIT stalls in the city are flooded with juicy, deep red watermelons. And to find them at this time of the year is surprising indeed. Few years ago, it was only during the summer season that the fruit was available but nowadays even early winter finds them in the market.
Earlier the fruit was grown in Kerala but of late much of it comes from Tamil Nadu. The present off-season loads are from neighbouring Karnataka. The variety is mainly namdhari, arkamani and micro six. The namdhari is long, elongated and pale green in colour with dark red flesh. It is mainly grown in Karvar, Angola and Shimoga districts of Karnataka. Arkamani is dark green round in shape and is grown mainly in Tamil Nadu. Namdhari costs Rs. 4 to 5 a kilo in wholesale market and Rs. 7 to 8 a kg at retail outlets. Sayeed of Kashmir Fruit Company, who buys directly from the farms, experimented with a newer variety, the `Micro six'. What is available here weighs only 1 ½ to 3 ½ kg. Its seed is from Taiwan and grown in Shimoga near Mysore. Its skin is very rough and light green in colour. This rare variety unlike other varieties is less juicy and when cut appears like a piece of halva. The specialty of this particular variety is that it does spoil for nearly two months. It is slightly costly than the namdhari and cost about Rs 15- 18 kg at wholesale stores and Rs.30 in retail. From Kochi, watermelons are exported to Maldives.
Watermelons are low in calories and have a high water content that is almost of 95 per cent. Melons are very low in protein, fat and carbohydrates. This makes them a suitable food in weight loss diets. Besides they are good for patients of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders. Melons are effective diuretics and help in proper excretion of urine and prevents water retention. A diet of only melons helps clean the whole system. They should be eaten at the start of the meal, since they ferment rapidly in the stomach. Eating melon as a pudding at the end of the meal, is asking for digestive trouble. Melon seeds can be roasted and eaten. The oil extracted from watermelon seeds is used for lighting lamps and also for certain special culinary preparations. The cake seed is good for cattle feed since it contains good protein content.
GENERALLY SERVED, cut into wedges or cubes or as balls added to fruit salads, watermelons make a refreshing thirst quencher. Try out these interesting recipes
Icy watermelon drink
3 teacups watermelon pieces
3teaspoons skim milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Blend the ingredients in a liquidizer. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. When set put the frozen mixture in a liquidizer, churn and pour into 3 glasses. If you like add ice cubes.
250 gms liquefied watermelon pulp
250 ml. Water
125 gm. Sugar
2 tbsp crushed china grass
1 tsp. limejuice
1/4 tsp. fresh mint leaves finely chopped
Soak china grass in 50 ml or 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil till fully dissolved, stirring continuously. Bring remaining water to boil in a deep vessel. Add sugar and dissolve it completely.
Strain china grass mixture into sugar solution. Cool to room temperature. Mix in liquefied pulp and limejuice. Blend very briefly to evenly mix china grass. Do not allow frothing. Add mint leaves and stir. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze till firmly set.
Note: add required quantity of sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
WATERMELONS HAVE their origin in tropical Africa. Until the thirteen century it was unknown in the Europe. But later they became a symbol of the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of cooks. Each year on August 10 the occasion is celebrated with an orgy of watermelon eating in Florence, Italy.
MUMTAZ KHALID ISMAIL
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