Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Long Melon at Little Bangladesh

Before a visit to the Bangladeshi strip in Sydney's Lakemba, I thought I was an open-minded foodie, whisk and cleaver at the ready for any culinary adventure to stumble into my path. What I encountered there would stump any home cook or keen-nosed beagle for that matter. When I saw two gentlemen heaving enormous bundles of edible plant material out of an unmarked van and into this shop (which will remain nameless), I just knew I had to find out what it was.

The mass of curly-cue vines, white spongey flowers and soft velvety leaves belong to the plant of the Long Melon, or fuzzy melon. What I was not prepared for, was the stench. After bringing home a large raft of the unruly flora I began to unfurl it out of the bag- which I imagine is like the plant equivalent of gutting a pig. Every tendril I extracted from the bag produced a stronger and more foul aroma than the previous, smelling like a combination of burning rubber and a decomposing roast dinner.

The odor was so much so that the whole lot ended up on the grass in the backyard so I could think of what to do with it. Sadly I made the decision to bin it, despite the tasty recommendation the shop owner offered. I hate to waste food but this is one exception, for the need not to stink my house out. My hat is off to whoever is game enough to cook and eat this. For anyone interested the shopkeeper suggested cooking it with spices,onion,ghee, and prawns and adding it in at the last minute like a stir fry. She also mentioned you are not supposed to cook the stalks, just the leaves.

Obviously the friendlier component to the plant is the melon itself, which I have cooked and enjoyed on a number of occasions. most notably as an item at the table for szechuan hot pot.

At this shop there is a great selection of spices, fruits, veggies and other fantastic grocery items as well. I am also very impressed that they go out of their way to stock unusual ingredients and ones that they use back home, and I sincerely hope they continue to do so. This is one of 10 other Bangladeshi owned / run shops on the same block.


Anonymous said...

Oh my god that smells sounds.... interesting... I kind of want to smell it for myself haahahaaa

Anonymous said...

Aren't the Bangla dudes the best?! I work in Lakemba and buy most of my groceries there - I've never been game enough to try the furry melon though!


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