Watermelon is like the knight in shining armor that provides a respite during the sweltering summers of North India. Watermelon is 92% water, which makes it one of the best fruit to eat or drink (after juicing) to beat the heat. Nothing is more thirst-quenching during summers than sweet cold watermelon juice. Watermelon juice is an elixir indeed.
Historians believe that watermelon originated in the Kalahari desert. Travelers used to carry the watermelon as a water canteen during their long and arduous journey through the desert. Watermelon is a fantastic source of H2O and is edible for a long time if uncut. Although, I wonder how travelers cleaned up their sticky fingers when they did not have any water. Watermelon juice is not only sticky but also sweet sticky and attracts flies. In ancient times there were no wet wipes or hand sanitizers. Did those poor travelers roam around the desert with sticky fingers and faces, tormented by the buzzing of flies? What if some weary travelers tried to wipe their asses with water(melon)? Sticky bums!!!!
The Egyptians considered watermelons to be nourishing and placed watermelons in the tombs of Pharaohs in the hopes that the watermelon would nourish the Pharaohs in the afterlife as well.
Mark Twain was fond of Watermelons. He wrote that when one has tasted (watermelon), he knows what the angels eat. India was cultivating Watermelons in the 7th century. It is popularly known as Tarbooj. Watermelon thrives in heat and is a summer staple in Indian households. Quite the Contrary, watermelon is sweet despite having high vitamin C. It has a sweet juicy flavor. Watermelon acts as a thirst quencher, a detoxifier, and an aphrodisiac.
I eagerly wait for watermelons in summers. Although Watermelons are available during the offseason as well, they are not as delicious as the ones available in summer. During the summer holidays, my mum would buy small watermelons that weighed somewhere between half to 1 kg for the family. The kids especially loved the concept of a personal watermelon that they could siphon off. My mum would use bigger Watermelons to make juice. I love the unabridged version of watermelon juice that is without salt or pepper. Adding any flavors to enhance its flavor seems inconceivable to me. Recently a friend told me that an article suggested adding Roohafza to the watermelon juice. I was aghast. Although, watermelon juice pairs well with strawberry, pomegranate, ginger, grape, lemon, and mints and combined with white wine or Vodka, adding artificial flavor seems pointless.
When I was younger, some of my best moments were eating watermelon juice popsicles that my mum made. Sometimes, she would add chopped strawberries or cherries or litchis to the popsicles. I have always been amazed at how versatile watermelon is. My first experience with the versatility of watermelon was when I tried Gazpacho (Spanish cold soup). It tasted tangy and was surprisingly savory. Watermelon with Feta cheese is another pairing I enjoy. I have had watermelon in juice, popsicles, jelly, granitas, and barbecue. But there are still so many dishes yet to explore.
Of all the watermelon dishes I would love to try, I am dying to try the Italian watermelon pudding made with watermelon, almonds, chocolate, and cinnamon. Another recipe I can not wait to try is the watermelon pizza, which is cooked by grilling watermelon slice as the base, jam as dressing with shredded coconut ‘cheese’ as a topping.
I have read that watermelon is 100% edible. I have not tried yet, but I did read that pickled watermelon rinds are enjoyed in India and South American countries. However, I do enjoy eating watermelon seeds. Roasted watermelon seeds are excellent for snacking. These are not only delicious but also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Watermelon seeds are a crucial ingredient in making desserts, particularly the sweets made during Janamashtmi (The festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishan). I use watermelon seeds in cakes, cookies, and salads.
Unfortunately, the watermelon season has ended for now. Although I am enjoying the Chausa and Langda variety of mangoes that ripen with the rainy season, I miss watermelons.