Fruits were a big part of our meals growing up. More often than not, my father would come bearing some or the other seasonal fruit when he returned from office. Exotic fruits were not available then as they seem to be now, so apples, oranges, grapes , et all were familiar on the kitchen table. Come summer and the two oft seen fruits in our hands would be the cool, sweet watermelon and the luscious, almost fragrant musk melon. My mom would peel the fruit...the distinctive gray coloured peel with the rough lattice like ridges...would cut the sweet pale yellow to orange coloured fruit, divide it EQUALLY amongst 4 bowls and serve it to the family...we would devour the contents in no time ! Some times she would make a delicious coconut and milk based fruit salad with the musk melon ( we called it shikarni...or as the Maharashtrians would have it, shikaran :) ) ...on warm sultry nights...a bowlful of this cool delicious fruit salad would taste like nectar, straight from heaven!
Imagine my delight then when I saw the same fruit when I arrived in the States..only it was named differently...now known as a Cantaloupe ! (I do not know if there are any botanical differences in the two varieties of fruits...but I am assuming that they are the same) I don't remember seeing the honey dew melon ever in India...these are refreshing too..but thats for another post.
Regarding the Cantaloupe, it belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, to which belong illustrious members such as the cucumber, pumpkins and gourds. The fruit seems to have to be native to the region stretching from Egypt to Iran. The finest fruits are supposed to be the ones grown in Afghanistan and Iran.
Cantaloupe Fun Facts:
* As with the other members of the family, the cantaloupe is high in water content, making it a perfect fruit for the summer months and is low in calories.
* The more orange the flesh, the more carotene it has.
* Melon seeds are also dried and eaten in salads or as snacks.
* If the fruit is left uncut at room temperature for two to four days, the fruit becomes softer and juicier.
* One serving of the fruit is sufficient to provide a daily dose of Vitamin A and Vitamin C ! Amazing !!
* Cantaloupe has antioxidants that help us to fight various ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure, cancer and heart diseases.
* The fruit is a very good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, dietary fiber and niacin.
* It is fat free and cholesterol free ( magic words for all of us there looking for healthier snack and dessert options )
* Cantaloupe is a good source of folate, which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells
The following is a recipe that I got off a recipe card distributed in grocery stores. I tried it once and found it really really delicious.
2 C chilled cantaloupe cubes
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/8 C apple juice
1 tbsp honey
a dash of ground ginger
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and and process until smooth and foamy.
2. Pour into your favourite glasses and serve immediately.
Refreshing and delicious. The ginger adds the zing and the lemon juice adds the tang.
Perfect complements to the sweetness of the cantaloupe !
( The recipe can be easily made vegan by omitting the honey)
I tried this with a watermelon too and that was good too..but if you like the taste and fragrance of the captivating cantaloupe, then you have to try this :)