Weird vegetables and fruits
WE all know how important and beneficial fruits and vegetables are for our health. Mum tells us to eat this fruit or that vegetable for various health benefits. In most cases, when it comes to eating vegetables, like bitter gourd or ladyfingers, you can’t bring yourself to have even a morsel of it. Sometimes when you hear the word eggplant curry, you vanish from the scene in no time.
Sounds familiar? Yea, we know that! But it doesn’t mean you are doing the right thing by avoiding vegetables and fruits. It is absolutely wrong, even if you don’t like what the vegetables look like, they are essential for a healthy body.
But it is a fact that some vegetables look rather unusual, like bitter gourd or the zucchini. There are many unusual looking vegetables and fruits around the world, many of which we have never seen or heard of because they are not grown here and many belong to tropical regions — from black sapotes that taste like real chocolate puddings, to durian, which smells like dirty socks but tastes like creamy almond custard.
These fruits are the wildest and weirdest foods in the natural world which all who claim to be culinary adventurers must taste before they can declare themselves as such.
ROMANESCO broccoli is an edible flower bud that was first harvested in Italy. This light green vegetable’s striking appearance is a natural approximation of a fractal, or a never-ending pattern.
Some describe the taste as a blend of broccoli and cauliflower. But don’t let its complex appearance intimidate you — it can be cooked up easily, just like cauliflower.
WHEN looking at a rambutan for the first time, it’s tough to imagine that it is edible. The red outer layer is covered in ‘hair’ that is actually a layer of flexible thorns.
This medium-sized tropical fruit is native to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Ripe rambutans are sweet and are reminiscent of lychee fruits.
IT may look like something from outer space (and, in fact, it once made an appearance on Star Trek), but the Kiwano melon is actually grown in Southern Africa, California and New Zealand.
Nicknamed the “horned melon,” its yellow, stubby exterior encases a bright green, jelly-like fruit with edible seeds. The fruit has a citrusy flavour that some liken to a mix of cucumber, lime and banana and to some it has the combined taste of cucumber and zucchini. The fruit originated from Africa, and is rich in Vitamin C and fibre.
ROSE apples are bell-shaped fruits that can be eaten much like regular apples. They are crispy and crunchy, like your typical apple, but they taste and smell like roses.
Rose apples are now popular in Asia although they are native to the East Indies. The fruits spoil quickly so they are not typically sold in supermarkets.
SALAK or snake fruit, as they are also called, are native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The small individual fruits are covered in a scaly skin that looks disturbingly similar to a snake. Once peeled, the inner lobes are sweet and acidic and their texture is similar to an apple.
Because of its reddish-brown rough scales, the Salak has been known to be the fruit with snake skin. It is so famous in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It has a distinct tip and is almost the size of a fig.
THIS is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. It’s amazing that these fruits grow on trees considering they can weigh up to 80 pounds each. Their taste is often compared to bananas, but with a tarter flavour. Jackfruits are used for cooking in Asian cuisines and are also eaten raw.
NATIVE to Central and South America, the dragon fruit — also known as the pitaya — has a bright pink or white centre and is speckled with tiny black seeds, it can also be spotted with a yellow skin. Apart from being juicy and refreshing, the dragon fruit is a good source of fibre and vitamin C.
The fruit has a light flavour, like a pear and also been compared to a mild melon or kiwi with crunchy black seeds like a kiwi. And despite its wild appearance, when it comes to actually eating a dragon fruit, there is no special skill set required — just chop it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, or cut it into pieces and add to a summer salad.
THE fruit of an achiote tree is not edible but its seeds are. They are used as spice and tastes like fresh pepper with a hint of nutmeg sweetness. Natives in Central and South America use the seeds to make red body paint and lipstick.
ROLLINIA are mild, sweet, and slightly citrusy on the inside, but have a rather unappetising appearance. The yellow fruit is covered in spikes, which turn dark brown when the fruit becomes ripe.
THIS strange-looking fruit which is native to tropical West Africa is sometimes called a vegetable brain because of its edible inner brain-shaped yellowish arils.
Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and is a staple food in Jamaican diets.
BLACK sapote, a.k.a. chocolate pudding fruit, is very much like chocolate pudding that is gluten free. They’re the healthier alternative to chocolates, as they are lower in fat and contain about four times Vitamin C than orange.
Purple sweet potato
THIS sweet potato is the purplish cousin of its orange variety. Its colour comes from the same pigment that makes cherries and strawberries red. It has a rich wine-like flavour but is denser and drier than regular sweet potatoes.
BUDDHA’S Hand, or the fingered citron, is unusually-shaped like fingers in a human hand. The fingers contain a white part of the fruit and sometimes a small amount of acidic pulp. Many of them are juiceless and some are seedless.
THIS mysterious and beautiful fruit that is native to Japan has translucent white flesh inside that contains many shiny black seeds. Its purple pod can be cooked and eaten as well as a vegetable.
Fruit of the hala aka puhala tree
THIS odd-looking fruit is native to Melesia, eastern Australia and the Pacific islands. Its oil is used to cure headaches and its flowers to cure constipation.
VERY unique as it appears as well as in its taste, the lotus root is native to Sindh’s rural areas, it is called Beh in Sindhi. This root vegetable is commonly cooked in almost all households of rural Sindh and people desperately wait for late autumn and early winter for beh to arrive in the markets.
The lotus plant grows in swampy underwater environment; so the root is full of mud even when they are taken out. When the mud is washed, the root’s real colour is visible which is from pale brown to pale reddish. This vegetable is tube-shaped and can grow between one to two feet in length. Internally, the root is ivory white, crunchy flesh with mild sweet, water-chestnut like flavor.
Its cut sections reveal visually appealing display of symmetrically arranged air canals (holes) traversing all along the length of the root. Preferably, it is boiled and then cooked. Almost all the parts of lotus plant, that is root, young flower stalks and seeds, are eaten and they all taste great!
Historically, lotus has been held high esteem in the Far East regions, especially in Chinese and Japanese cultures.
The lotus/beh is a moderate calorie root vegetables. Nevertheless, it has several health benefiting phyto-nutrients, minerals and vitamins. It is very good source dietary fibre, vitamin C, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese.