It is officially the season of citrus fruits here in Nepal. The country is never short of delicious offerings to please the palate of most fruit lovers with a variety both wild and exotic. One of my favorites among all of these are pomelos or bhogates, the largest citrus fruit in the family with a green to yellow rind. These rounded-pear shaped fruit have a thick pith, with bright pink and sometimes red flesh inside. Savory and zapped with tart and tangy flavors, pomelo is known for its ability to boost immunity, improve digestion and also aid in weight loss.
Grown wild all over the country, they are key to the mighty treat of a dish that is bhogate sadheko—a celebratory one amongst Nepali people that is given to siblings and relatives, usually on the days of Mha Puja and Bhai Tika; a ritual that dates back hundreds of years meant to strengthen the bonds between families.
Soon after Tihar, when the green skin of the pomelo starts to change to yellow, it indicates its ripening and so calls for the entire family to relax on one sunny afternoon and relish the mouthwatering bhogate feast. When ripe, the fruit is dry, and the flesh is firm yet crunchy, and offers a slightly sweet-tangy taste. Some of the immature ones can be bitter and dry, with an overpowering flavor, making them unsuitable for the salad. The large fruits are prepared in different variations. Some mix them along with oranges and grapefruits and add salt and chili powder and a couple of other spices to make a tangy, tasty dish. It can also be marinated in yogurt and spices like salt, pepper, chilli and fenugreek seeds, making it sweeter to the taste. In some families, the fruit’s rind is dried and added to meals for that extra zesty flavoring.
Bhogate sadheko tastes especially good when eaten with a group of loved ones. The warmth of the winter sun and the laughter in between conversations seem to make this salad-like dish even tastier. From kids wearing the peeled skin of the pomelo as a hat and pretending to be a warrior to adults squeezing the pomelo juice on themselves and playing a little game of which-direction-will-your-spouse-come-from, bhogate comes with a festivity in itself, making Tihar much like a trailer of a tasty holiday.
Preparation method of Bhogate Sadheko
• Peel and skin the fruit and cut the flesh in pieces.
• Put the skinned pieces in a large bowl.
• Add yogurt, followed by salt, sugar, red chili powder, sesame powder and ground peanuts.
• Heat oil in a pan, add fenugreek seeds and cook till they turn black.
• Turn off the heat and add turmeric powder to the oil. Pour the mixture into the bowl.
• Mix the ingredients well and serve.