Watermelon is a great thirst quencher. It is a most welcome fruit during the scorching Indian summer. Its botanical name is Citrullus Lanatus. It is called watermelon in English and ‘Tarbry’ in Hindi. It belongs to the family of the Cucurbitaceae ( Cucumber) family.
Watermelon is native of Tropical Africa with probably a secondary center of diversification in India. It is said that this fruit was found in the Kalahari desert region of Africa by David Livingstone, the famous English explorer. It has been cultivated at least since Egyptian times.
It reached china is the 10th century probably from India. China is now the largest producer and exporter of watermelon. The fruit was introduced in Europe in the 13th century. In the English dictionary compiled in the year 1615, in America, the word watermelon found a place. The cultivation of watermelon started in full swing only after 1940.
Now Mediterranean countries export watermelons on a large scale and earn substantially.
Introduction of Watermelon to India
Watermelon was introduced to India in the 4th century A.D. Sushruta has mentioned is his Sushruta Samhita about the cultivation of watermelon along the banks of the Indus river. He called this fruit as ” Kalinga”.
The plant is an annual climber, with more or less hairy leaves which are often deeply 3 – or 5 – lobed, with the lobes themselves often pinnately lobed. The yellow corolla of the flower is about 11/2 inches across.
The fruit is usually ellipsoidal, often 10 inches across, with whitish, yellow or red flesh, sweet and juicy but rather insipid.
It is picked only when fully ripe. In some regions, the seeds, which are variable in color, are eaten. They are oily and nutritious.
Watermelon is cultivated all over India but mostly in Maharashtra. It is grown in Karnataka also and most of the fruits sold in Chennai during summer comes from Karnataka.
The earlier fruits were small and without seeds. But now large fruits, (developed due to research and genetics) are grown in maximum quality. There are sever alterities Bandra, Kala, Durbuj, etc.
Generally, 100 gm of watermelon is containing:
- Water – 92%
- Starch – 7056 gm
- Sugar – 6.2 gm
- Fat – 0.15 gm
- Protein – 0.61 gm
- Vitamin B1 – 3%
- Vitamin B2 – 1%
- Vitamin B3 – 1%
- B5 – 4%
- B6 – 3%
- B9 – 1%
- ‘C’ – 14%
- Calcium – 1%
- Iron – 2%
- Magnesium – 3%
- Phosphorus – 2%
- Potassium – 2%
- Zinc – 1%
1 Cup Watermelon has 48 calories.
New Variant of Watermelon
The Pusa Agricultural Research Center, Delhi has developed a new variant of watermelon. Taiwan scientists have developed seedless varieties.
- Watermelon, as its name implies, is full of pleasant tasting water. It has the highest water content than any other fruit. It quenches thirst. It replaces the minerals, lost by the body due to heat and perspiration. It cools the mind & body.
- Watermelon can be eaten raw, directly. It could be made into juice which is very refreshing. You can add glucose, honey, or lime juice. In cases of cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, nausea, etc, the melon – juice acts as a dehydrating agent.
- Because of its cooling effects, the mind, and body become calm and cod.
- Melon is a good diuretic because it contains potassium. It can be used for treating urinary stones scanty urination, metabolic acidosis, etc. But it is not of much use in kidney failure with severe Uramia.
- Some Unani Hakeems treat mental disorders (insanity, hysteria, insomnia, etc) with watermelon.
- The ripe fruit is cut into two halves and the pulp is scooped out, to make it hollow. It is then put as a cap on the shaved head of the patient for three hours and replaced with another one. The process is repeated three to four times a day for four days.
- Watermelon is a pleasant dessert fruit.
- The rind of the fruit is used in cooking by Chinese. The fruit can be made into pickles or preserved in syrup. In cardiovascular and renal disorders associated with sodium and water retention. But as said earlier, watermelon does not help much in kidney failure.
- The seeds are quite nutritious. The seeds contain 20-40% edible oil & about 30% protein. They are cooling, soothing, diuretic, and vermifuge. In Africa, the seeds are dried and eaten raw, which is an important supplement to the diet. The seeds are sometimes ground into flour or the oil extracted from them is used in cooking.