kachri (Cucumis callosus), the wild melon that packs antioxidants and boosts immunity : kachri ki chutney recipe
There are very few foraged foods that find their way into the urban markets sometimes and one of those is Kachri or Kaachri (Cucumis callosus or Cucumis melo sp agrestis) that looks like miniature watermelons. The similarity to watermelons ends here and once you cut these tiny melons you see numerous seeds and very little flesh inside. The seeds impart excellent protein content to this melon along with potent antioxidants and immunity boosting properties. See this study to know more.
Kachri is definitely a super food that can be found growing wild even on Delhi roadsides sometimes, but getting it from where it grows in the jungles and around the agricultural fields on it's own is a better option. Kachri vines are hardy and once planted the plant grows by self seeding every year.
The size of this kachri fruit varies so much that it can easily be named as a Chameleon melon too, the colour of the skin can vary from green, grey. brown. whitish to all the shades in between. The size also can vary so much that once can sometimes get confused about the identity. You would know it if you have tasted it, the aromatic tart flavour is so unique to this melon.
I buy a big batch whenever I spot kachri in the market and love cooking stir fries with them or make chutney. If you are traveling to Rajasthan and you happen to walk around any of the local markets you would see thick slices of kachri being sold in almost every spice and grocery shop.
Kachri powder is a great meat tenderiser too and is used generously in Rajasthan. The sun dried kachri slices are mostly used to make chutney along with loads of chillies, garlic and may be some herbs and seeds of the season.
The chutney I made a couple of months ago was so good we ended up using it with almost every meal. That simpler kachri ki chutney can be seen served with this Kachhe kele ke kabab here.
The brownish kachri ki chutney is made with just about a dozen fresh kachri sliced, about a dozen hot dry red chillies and 2 dozen fat garlic pods along with some salt. The chutney is so good it become addictive even though it is quite hot. But the balance of tangy, hot and pungent is the unique property of this chutney.
I even use this chutney to make a quick stir fry with guwar (cluster beans) beans. This recipe of guwar beans is a variation of the guwar (guar) peanut subzi that we love, another variation of guwar and kachri is shared by Deepika on my Instagram page.
To make the kachri guwar stir fry, steam the guwar beans lightly, then stir fry lightly with mustard oil and hing (asafoetida) tempering for a couple of minutes. Add a generous dollop of the kachri ki chutney and cook for a couple more minutes. Your delicious stir fry is ready to eat. The same procedure can be used to make stir fry with okra and bitter gourds too.
Another delicious chutney with sun dried kachri is made along with coriander greens, mint, green chillies and some sesame seeds. Recently we were at the Tijara Organic Farms at Alwar (Rajasthan) for work and this chutney was served with almost every meal. We loved it so much I brought some sun dried kachri with me.
To make the chutney with sun dried kachri follow the recipe below. The recipe is by Sneh Yadav, the owner of the Tijara Organic Farm.
(to make a 500 ml jar full)
1 cup of sun dried kachri
2 cups of fresh chopped coriander greens
1/2 cup of mint leaves
2 dozen green chillies or as per taste
2 dozen fat garlic cloves peeled or just rinsed well
1/4 cup sesame and flax seeds mix
salt to taste
Blend everything in the blender till a smooth paste is formed.
Add a little water or buttermilk if required. Empty the chutney into a clean (sterile) glass jar and serve as desired. The chutney keeps well for a day at room temperature and for a week or longer if refrigerated.
This chutney has all the ingredients that make it a super food. Those who want to supplement iron and calcium in their diet can add some more sesame and may be a few springs of curry leaves too.
This kachri chutney also helps lower cholesterol, boost immunity and gut health (the phytochemical analysis proves here). The seeds of the kachri as well as the flax and sesame used in the chutney make it a fairly high protein food too, so if you are using this chutney as a dip like hummus be assured you are eating a lot better for health.
The kachri chutney made this way is quite versatile as well. Spread it on toasted bread along with some salad greens and make an instant healthy sandwich or just spread on a multi grain gluten free roti and see how you love a quick meal.
This kachri chutney is like a good pesto. I like pesto on my multi grain rotis a lot. See how I eat boiled eggs wrapped in pesto smeared roti here on my Instagram post.
With crackers this chutney makes a great snack or starter. Or top it over bruschetta along with some fresh crunchy raw salad. This kachri ki chutney wouldn't disappoint you any which way.