Kachri: Have you tasted this tangy vegetable from Rajasthan?

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Kachri is known for its tangy, sour taste. (Photo: Chef Vicky Ratnani/Instagram)

India is well-known for its diverse food heritage. Whether Punjab or Tamil Nadu, Goa or Sikkim, most areas offer a variety of region-specific vegetables and spices that are unique in terms of taste as well as the health benefits they offer. One such vegetable that is also used as a spice in Rajasthani and Gujarati cuisine is kachri or wild melon, also known as Cucumis Pubescens (scientific name). It is also called chibar, kachri gol and dried kachar. Recently, celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani, whose Facebook profile describes him as a "gastronomic junkie for new flavours", shared a post that made us take notice of this humble vegetable/spice.

Take a look!

Giving an insight into the what the vegetable is all about, he wrote that kachri  is a rich source of protein and is usually found in hot, arid regions of Western India. "Kachri powder is used extensively in rural Rajasthani cuisine and is also known locally for medicinal properties of soothing gastrointestinal pains. It is also used as a meat tenderizer, and gives a tangy taste to kebabs and other traditional dishes such as khud khargosh. Whole dried kachri can be stored for long periods, and the ground powder can be kept for a few months," he wrote.

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What is kachri?

Predominantly grown in the desert areas, and seldom cultivated as a crop, kachri is a variety of cucumber with a brownish-yellow tint and resembles a small melon. "Kachri is initially bitter, but sweetens to have a sour, melon-like taste as it ripens. It is sometimes eaten straight from the fine, but can also be pickled or cooked in everyday dishes like other vegetables. Sun-dried kachri is used in stir-fries or ground into a powder to add flavoring to other dishes or chutneys," described the chef.

How can you tried them?

Many also eat the vegetable raw. Kachri powder, which is brown in colour, is considered a good natural meat tenderiser. Kachri powder mixed with minced lamb meat along with garlic, ginger, and fresh herbs and left for half a day helps make the meat succulent. Traditional Shish kebabs also use this.

It is also popular in Marwari cuisine, more as a substitute for amchur powder, and is used to flavour chutneys and veggies.

Health benefits of kachri

*Though not much is known about the benefits of this vegetable, it is known to be packed with antioxidants and boost one's immunity.

*It is said that it works as a tonic, cooling agent and a stimulant, especially for gastrointestinal issues.

*Also, regular use of the powder is said to cure minor skin issues like boils, lice, itching.

Have you had a taste of kachri yet?