Rajeshwari from India writes:
“Hullo Kurma, I have a question. In southern part of India, especially Bangalore and Chennai, there’s a vegetable called ‘chow-chow’ or ‘bangalore-kathirikai. What is it known as in English? And is it available in other parts of the world? Thank you in advance.”
In Australia it is called choko and in Brazil xuxu (pronounced ‘shoe-shoe’). In all Spanish-speaking Latin American countries it is called chayote (pronounce like ‘cayote’, the wild dog). It is used extensively in many Asian countries also, and belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae along with melons, cucumbers and squash.
It was domesticated in Mexico and used by the Aztecs and the Mayans, but can now be found cultivated across the world, primarily for its fruit, but also, in some regions, for its root.
The plant has large leaves that form a canopy over the fruit. The vine is grown on the ground or more commonly on trellises. In Australia, the famous choko (probably a mis-pronunciation of xuxu or chou-chou) was seen sprawling over numerous Aussie backyard sheds and fences, and eaten in great quantities in kitchens of yesteryear.
It went out of fashion, being seen as a poor man’s vegetable. But now that it is recognised to be a very popular ingredient all over Asia, Brazil and Latin America and beyond, it is starting to lose it’s stigma.
I have some great recipes for it, by the way.
Posted by Kurma on 24/10/06; 4:33:36 AM