18 March 2009

Vegetable Identified!

And there we have it folks, thanks to our reader Nishat Khan, we have now identified the enigmatic vegetable: It is a Teasle Gourd. I have scoured the internet for pictures of this Teasle gourd, and having seen and tasted it personally, I can definitely identify them as one and the same.

Thanks, Nishat!

As Nishat puts it, it is native to the Indian subcontinent, which is why people in the Philippines were befuddled as to what it was.

Having tasted this vegetable, I know that if introduced to the Pearl of the Orient, it would be a staple in no time. I suspect it will grow well in our similar climate.

Reminds me of some uncanny observations of mine throughout the years. In Cavite, the locals would not touch 'alugbati', which is a staple in the north. They also would not eat the 'kulitis', which they considered nothing more than an annoying weed. It was not until a friend of mine from Iloilo saw the "weed" and started teaching us to eat it (perfect with monggo), that we realized it was edible. Of course, when the Internet proliferated, we were able to find more and more literature on the vegetable, discovering that it was loaded with Iron and other good stuff.

Also in Cavite, however, I have tasted some vegetables I rarely see elsewhere, such as the 'Himbabao', as the locals call it. They say it is a flower from a mature forest tree. I have not seen the tree personally, though. The flower, which looks like long pistils, are aromatic and best eaten mixed with other vegetables in stew.

There are other vegetables I have tried through the years, here and abroad, that in my mind, should be propagated more, not only for their taste, but also to add more variety to our already vast array of locally available fruit and vegetables.

The vegetable we call 'saberdukong', for example, is something I often see in Thailand, used in soups like Tom Yum. Yet, it is so hard to find locally.

I have also tried other vegetables whose names I cannot recall at the moment: one vine which needs to be roasted over a grill in order to easily peel off its tough rind to get to its tender center; the root of the taro plant which to me is one of the best ingredients for gata; The more unique and exotic it gets, the more I want to try them...

Seems like this is becoming quite a fancy of mine. =)

04 March 2009

Help Me Identify This Vegetable

It is my turn to ask a question.

On a recent trip to Malaysia, I was invited to my host's home for a wonderful asian dinner. Their maid is Sri Lankan and prepared a dish that looked to me like a small bitter gourd or bittermelon cooked in coconut milk and various spices. I liked the dish so much that I had to know what it was made of. You see, rather than being bitter, it was actually sweet and pleasant, yet it was a taste I could not readily recognize. My host did not know what it was either, so she asked her maid to show me the uncooked vegetable. To my surprise, it did not look like at all like a bitter gourd, or Ampalaya. And the maid could not give me a name for it, either, except that she saw it in the wet market and knew from experience that it was edible.

I guess it is... I am unscathed. :-)

Can anyone help me identify this vegetable? I would appreciate it.

This is something I would like to plant in the Philippines. I can think of a dozen ways to prepare that very versatile vegetable.
Go on and hit the comments button if you know what this is!