What a melon! -By Cather­ine Rhea Roy

The Luxury Collection - - Contents - -By Cather­ine Rhea Roy

We can be­gin to feel the sum­mer – whether it is the dry heat of Dubai or the swel­ter­ing one of Mi­ami – we know the sea­son has changed. You can tell by the prickly heat that rises on the back of your neck, the con­stant whirring of fans or air con­di­tion­ers or both, and by the piles of or­anges that have been re­placed by stacks of ob­long, scrump­tious wa­ter­mel­ons. Eas­ily one of the most un­der­rated fruits, come sum­mer and the wa­ter­melon loses out to the alphonso as a sea­son favourite. How­ever, it is stead­fast, nu­tri­tious, and sur­pris­ingly ver­sa­tile form­ing per­fect com­bi­na­tions in un­likely places.

Wa­ter­mel­ons can be eas­ily cut up into slices or squares to keep you go­ing through the day, es­pe­cially if you like to snack in be­tween meals. With its low caloric con­tent, the fruit is great for weight loss if that’s on the agenda this sea­son; it is also packed with an­tiox­i­dants that fight the free rad­i­cals in our body. It is a tasty, de­light­ful sup­ply of sodium, potas­sium, elec­trolytes and vi­ta­min B, as well, which makes it a pow­er­house of nu­tri­ents. It is a fan­tas­tic dis­ease fighter tak­ing on a few bat­tles of its own – asthma, heart dis­ease and arthri­tis. And the wa­ter con­tent of the fruit makes it the per­fect com­pan­ion dur­ing the sum­mer, re­ju­ve­nat­ing your body with all the min­er­als and nu­tri­ents you may have lost in sweat and ex­haus­tion. Wa­ter­mel­ons are also an ab­so­lute joy to eat ex­cept for some both­er­some seeds that need to be spat out from time to time. But that’s the way na­ture in­tended it, let’s not fight it or try to con­trol it.

The fruit also has a beau­ti­ful colour scheme – the deep dark green of the rind, the pale white flesh that cush­ions it, and the crunchy yet soft pulp dot­ted with lit­tle black pips. This makes wa­ter­melon a pop­u­lar choice in gourmet cook­ing whether it is to add some colour to your plate or to bring in its sub­tle flavour and unique tex­ture.

Break­fast bowl for all

Chef Bhu­van Rav­is­hankar from the kitchen of the Oberoi Ho­tel has re­leased us from the bur­den of the bored mixed fruit bowl or plain old fruit plate. Their nu­tri­tious break­fast bowl is a com­bi­na­tion of musk melon, wa­ter­melon, and al­monds and

wal­nuts caramelised in honey. The mixed melon salad is one of their most pop­u­lar items for break­fast. But they also keep the recog­nis­able cool­ers that in­fuse wa­ter­melon and basil, and make the sum­mers a bit more bear­able for ev­ery­one in­volved.

Cock­tails and dreams of wa­ter­melon

In­clude wa­ter­melon into your cock­tail and watch it bloom. A favourite is the wa­ter­melon mo­jito, a twist on the clas­sic mo­jito. Adding wa­ter­melon not only ups the fresh­ness of the drink but also gives it the most glo­ri­ous ef­fect with pieces of red wa­ter­melon that are be­ing tossed around by the fizzy bub­bles of soda. Chef Rav­is­hankar also does the frat party favourite – the vodka wa­ter­melon – where vodka is in­jected into a wa­ter­melon, cling wrapped and frozen. The al­co­hol soaks into the fruit and makes for a heady bite.

Fruit salad with a twist

Fruit in food is al­ways a bit bizarre, it doesn’t mat­ter how you feel about pineap­ple in your pizza, it is weird. But the neu­tral taste of chunks of wa­ter­melon is the per­fect ally or any dress­ing. Just ask Chef Sau­rabh Arora of Smoke House Deli and So­cial, who gives us a fine ex­am­ple of wa­ter­melon in food with the ex­tremely pop­u­lar wa­ter­melon and feta salad. The rocket leaves, feta and wa­ter­melon are lightly tossed in a dress­ing of vine­gar and oil and fin­ished off with some rich bal­samic – best use of fruit ever!

Stir­ring Up an Ap­petite

Chef Yogen Datta at the ITC Gar­de­nia loves the way wa­ter­melon re­acts in a vac­cum pack. The airy wa­ter­melon is eas­ily com­pressed and con­cen­trates the flavour of the fruit. The tex­ture of the wa­ter­melon af­ter com­pres­sion is very sim­i­lar to that of tuna flakes, which the chef uses to top off a crab salad ap­pe­tizer and rec­om­mends to go with al­co­hol.

What Soup?

Who knew wa­ter­melon could be great for a light and re­fresh­ing gaz­pa­cho? Now that we think about it, yes, but Chef Arora is a fan of the wa­ter­melon gaz­pa­cho and in­tro­duced the idea, and now it needs to be done. A cold sum­mer soup, quite like the tomato gaz­pa­cho, the wa­ter­melon too makes the cut for its light, juicy and slightly sweet flavour, and will be quite per­fect for the sum­mer heat.

Save the peel

Chef Varun Pereira of Sly Granny in his vast ex­pe­ri­ence has come across pick­led wa­ter­melon rinds, which is pop­u­lar in the south style cook­ing in Amer­ica. It seems ob­vi­ous once he breaks it down for us – if we peel off the green skin it saves the white fleshy part, which stores well in brine. It can be served ei­ther as a dress­ing for salad, or any­where you might need an added crunch, sim­i­lar to that of a cu­cum­ber. Chef Pereira has had a few other ideas too that in­volve grills and wa­ter­melon served hot but that’s for when he’s play­ing around the kitchen.

Well folks, it’s not go­ing to be an easy sum­mer. Cli­mate change is a re­al­ity and the heat is go­ing to make things very un­com­fort­able. But at least we still have wa­ter­mel­ons and their glo­ri­ous, re­fresh­ing com­pany to see us through.

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