Next time you buy a watermelon for its hopefully succulent flesh only, think twice, because there is more to a watermelon than just juicy flesh that quenches thirst and refreshes palates on hot summer days. What can be more to it? If you ask an Azerbaijani, he or she will tell you.
First, when you cut a circle off the top of a watermelon before slicing it and send the “hat” to a trash can, you may not know that you may be missing on a ripe opportunity to read your fortune a fun way. Intrigued? This is what you should do next time - cut the “hat” into quarters, make a wish and think up a combination of pieces that would correspond with your wish coming true. Would the pieces fall with their skin up or down? How many of each will be found in the combination? Then toss all four pieces in the air at once and watch them land at your feet. Based on how the pieces arrange themselves on the floor, the results are interpreted. Isn’t it fun?
“Tell me, watermelon? Will my …..?” – ”Yes, …. published!”
Second, once you’ve read your fortune and hopefully are beaming after “finding out” your wish will come true, slice the watermelon and stop. Take a look at the rind, the white flesh between the red flesh and the green skin. Measure it with your eyes. Does it look unusually thick? If so, do not waste it. Because you can cook it, yes, cook it, into most delicious preserves. While cooking, watermelon rind transforms into a yellow, almost transparent candied fruit that has little to no resemblance to the rind’s initial texture. It is absolutely gorgeous and delicious! Tell me, tell me you will make preserves next time your watermelon bestows thick rind on you. You will love it. In Azerbaijan, watermelon preserves is enjoyed with a glass of strong tea and a generous doze of chat around a cosy table.
The watermelon flesh is gone, time to put the rind to good use.
Here’s the precious rind, peeled and ready to be cut.
A crinkle cutter is an amazing tool – it makes the rind look pretty.
The rind cooks for as long as 3 hours, turning from this..
Once cooled off, the rind and the cooking syrup is spooned into “murebbe gabi”, or preserves bowl, and served with tea.