When you think of a fruit, what comes to your mind first? Apples, oranges, sweet limes and bananas? Or grapes, strawberries and mangoes. But ever thought of figs, watermelon, musk melon? The current trend of buying produce from the supermarket has led to us missing out on a whole host of seasonal, regional fruits which are not only very tasty but easy on the pocket too. One such wonder-fruit is a musk melon. Musk melon (also known as Cantaloupe, Kharbooja) belongs to the cucurbit family which also includes cucumbers, gourds, melons, pumpkins and squashes. A musk melon could be white or pale yellow on the outside and may or may not have longitudinal green ridges. It is characterized by a thick outer skin and a soft, fleshy, interior. Musk melon seeds are also edible and find vast use in Indian traditional cuisine. In India, a variety of musk melons are available in the local markets in the summer months of April to July. One also finds them in the supermarkets, but call it my skepticism, I have always found fruits bought from the local fruit vendor to be tastier than the ones from the mall. It could also be because of the facts that the malls store melons in air-conditioned rooms whereas a melon needs to be kept at room temperature to ripen. A good ripe musk melon will not have any bruises on the skin, will emanate a sweet smell and when softly tapped on the outside will have a hollow thud.
This fruit is perfect for an afternoon or even midnight snack as it is very low in calories plus full of vital nutrients and has plenty fibre and water- which implies lesser hunger pangs. Compared to an apple, a musk melon is a much superior source of vitamins C and A as well as the mineral potassium- all of which have antioxidant properties and boost immunity. Potassium in particular helps regulate blood pressure. This fruit is also loaded with the benefits of B complex vitamins which protect the body against illness and help keep all organs healthy. The fruit and its edible seeds are a great source of dietary fibre which implies no constipation and elimination of toxins in the body. Melon seeds are also a source of a type of omega-3 fatty acid which are very good for your heart.
As a kid I used to refuse to eat musk melons as I did not like that musky odor. My mum then used to sprinkle a little bit of powdered sugar and cardamom powder on it, which would prompt me to finish off an entire bowlful of it. These days we add it to a fruit salad or a summer salad along with pomegranates with a very light dressing. Musk melon and water melon scoops on skewers also make for an attractive amuse bouche. Kids may also like melon juice made into popsicles- a great summer treat. Melon seeds on the other hand are excellent in baking, for thickening gravies or as part of granola. In fact in India, dried toasted melon seeds have often been used in mukhwaas or mouth fresheners along with spices and other nuts.
And the most important benefit of melons (of all kinds including watermelons) is that their increased consumption gives you a glowing radiant skin even in the dry dull summers. The high water content and skin friendly vitamins in it ensure that your skin looks visibly fresh and radiant. This I can vouch for as the women in my family (including my mum and granny) used to always eat tons of this fruit and then rub the inside of the skin on their face and voila, an easy natural melon face pack done!