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Mystery fruit/vegetable - can you help?


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I'm trying to work out what a particular fruit/vegetable that I saw in a local asian (indian/pakistani) grocers is, can anyone help me?

It is quite a bright slightly lime-ish green (with yellow tints), about the size of a large kiwi fruit and the skin is spiky & tough looking. It was also floating in a tub of water! It is more spiny than a lychee, but the spikes aren't as long as something like a rambutan.

It was near the vegetables rather than the fruit, so I assume its a vegetable, but I can't be sure!

I did actually try asking someone who worked there but he couldn't remember, although he was quite young so maybe not the best person to ask! I know that the owner is quite friendly & helpful, but he hasn't been around the shop recently to ask.

Anyone have any ideas? And if so, do you have any recommended recipes/serving suggestions?


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Was it a Jack Fruit or a Durian Fruit??

Durian are sometimes kept in water because they are very stinky and the water helps mask the smell.

Durian fruit?

Jack Fruit

In either case I have to say neither fruit has a whole lot to reccomend it (although I've only had jackfruit from a can). If it is Durianthe "aroma" will be noticed down the block after you've gut into. So tread lightly.

Alamut was the mountain fortress of Hassan i Sabbah and the later heads of the Assassins. Alamut represents more than just a physical place, more even than a symbolic home of the movement. Alamut was with you in what you did; Alamut was in your heart from the moment of your arrival and introduction to "Heaven" until the moment you died.

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Did it look like this, except (in your case) shorter?

If so, it's karela, the Indian form of bitter melon. Both Indian and Thai bitter melons can also be much shorter than in this photo, making the whole vegetable more or less kiwi fruit shaped.

Never seen them sold floating in water, though, and cannot imagine any good reason for it.

If it karela, there is probably a thread already on them somewhere in this forum. If not, I can give some recipes or provide some links.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the delay in replying to you all, I've been caught up in christmas preparations & haven't had time to do anything but the essentials on the computer!

Well, thankyou very much for all the suggestions! The closest seems to be the kantola/spiky gourd/spiny gourd/ghee korola (or whatever it's called!). Unfortunately that is also the one which I can't find any really good pictures for on the internet, most images I've come across (including in the link given by Gingerly) are all rather blurred & unclear, plus the nomenclature is confusing since there appear to be more than one variety of "spiny gourd", which all look slightly different. I found one pic, though, that did look very similar to the things I saw (Latin name is Momordica cochinchinensis, apparently). So that may be it! Anyone have any idea why it would be floating in water?

I had wondered if it was some relative of the jackfruit or durian, as it is vaguely reminiscent of them, but much smaller. The "spikes" aren't quite the same, though. It's definately not a karela; I've tried them before. This is much spikier, and a different shape. Judging by the picture linked to by jackal10 & a quick look on the internet, it wasn't much like a Kiwano Melon -it was entirely covered in spikes, without the roundedness of the Kiwano's spikes, and was green rather than yellow (although there was a yellowish tinge in places).

I think I might actually just go and buy one next time I'm passing and they have them in stock. Even if it turns out to be disgusting at least I will have come closer to settling a nagging question! It would also be a lot easier to compare it to pictures on the internet if it was in front of me rather than working from memory. The only thing that would concern me about doing that is the slim possibility it might be one of those things you have to prepare in a certain way before you can eat it (you know, like how some things are poisonous or just very unpleasant unless they are cooked in a particular way?). I know that's fairly unlikely but a little bit of paranioa can be healthy when it comes to unknown foodstuffs!

If it is the Kantola (spiny gourd), how similar is this to Karela (bitter gourd)? I have read that they are related, and that the Kantola is slightly less bitter, but how much less bitter?! When I prepared the Karela myself, it was "interesting", though not nessecarily "nice"! I'm fairly open minded about foods, and usually don't take long to aquire aquired tastes, but there are some tastes that take longer to aquire than others! Would you be able to use the Kantola as a direct substitute for Karela in recipes?

Thanks for the help everyone! :biggrin:

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If it is the Kantola (spiny gourd), how similar is this to Karela (bitter gourd)? I have read that they are related, and that the Kantola is slightly less bitter, but how much less bitter?! When I prepared the Karela myself, it was "interesting", though not nessecarily "nice"! I'm fairly open minded about foods, and usually don't take long to aquire aquired tastes, but there are some tastes that take longer to aquire than others! Would you be able to use the Kantola as a direct substitute for Karela in recipes?

Kantola is a cousin of bitter groud(karela) but is not as bitter and is prepared in the same way as karela.Keep in mind that when you buy them ..pick up the fresh green ones which are younger and show no signs of aging (traces of yellow).The seeds of the green ones are tender and as the gourd ripens the seed hardens and develops a red color.Discard those as they are of no use.You can use kantola as a direct substitute for karela.

I use kantola in my kitchen regularly.Its a very healthy veggie and has a lot of medicinal properties and is recommended as a dietary supplement by many herbalists in South East Asia.

Kantola Stir Fry

Scrape the spikes of the kantolas(1/4 kg) and slice them into thin rounds.Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add sliced kantolas ,salt to taste and 1 tsp sugar and fry on medium heat stir frying the kantolas till brown.Remove from heat.

In the same pan add 1 tsp oil and add 1 cup of sliced onions and fry till rawness disappears.Remove from fire and cool.Grind the onions to a coarse paste.

Heat 1 tsp oil in the pan.Add curry leaves (optional) and fry for few seconds.Now add 1 tsp ginger garlic paste and fry for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly so that it doesnt burn.Add the onion paste and fry for 5 minutes.Add 1 tsp coriander pwd,3/4 tsp chilli pwd,1/4 tsp cumin pwd and mix well.Now add the fried kantolas and mix well.Cover with lid and let it cook in the masalas for 10 minutes on low heat.

Remove lid and stir fry constantly till the kantolas turn soft.Adjust salt and you can add some sugar if desired.Add 1/4 tsp garam masala pwd and mix well.Add chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional) and serve hot with rice or rotis.

It goes well as a filling for sandwiches too.

Hope this helps!

Sailaja aka 'sailu'

Sailu's Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thankyou very much!

I'm going to buy the mystery vegetable next time I'm passing the shop, and (after comparing it to the pictures of Kantola on the web, just to double check that it is what I think it is!) I'll try your recipe, milli, it sounds nice. Although I'm fairly adventurous when it comes to food & cooking, I do prefer to always follow a tried & tested recipe when using an ingredient I'm unfamiliar with - it tends to save dissapointment!

Thankyou to everyone who replied; sorry I haven't been very conscientious about replying straight away, the whole christmas/new year thing got in the way slightly!!

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