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Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya (also Gak or Karela) is an annual herbaceous climbing plant of the Pumpkin family, widespread in Asia. On the territory of Russia, this fruit crop is not so well known, however, the beneficial properties of the plant and its unpretentiousness have already earned favorable reviews from gardeners. In addition, Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is often grown as a decorative element, filling the free space of balconies and loggias with lush vines.
General description of the plant
Momordica (another name for the plant is widespread in Asia - Gak) is a herbaceous vine that quickly braids the nearest supporting structures. The fruits of the plant in their appearance resemble large overripe cucumbers or melon, due to which in the common people Momordika is often called Indian cucumber or Chinese melon.
The stems of Momordika Kokhinhinskaya are very strong, despite the fact that their thickness often raises some concerns. Liana can look quite fragile and unreliable. The length of the plant varies from 2.5 to 4 m. The leaves of Gaka are large, rich green.
The flowers are yellow. There is a significant difference between male and female flowers - while the former are located on tall peduncles, the latter grow on short pedicels. In addition, the female flowers are inferior in size to the male ones. The first to bloom are male flowers, followed by female flowers, giving the liana a decorative appearance. In the reviews of those who grow Momordika Kokhinhinskaya, the rich jasmine aroma of the plant is especially noted.
The diameter of the ripe fruits of Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya can reach 12 cm, the length is on average 20-25 cm. The surface of the fruits is uneven - wart-like peel, mottled with many small growths. The skin color ranges from yellow to orange.
The seeds of Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya are flat, with a pungent odor. The pulp is juicy, dark red in color. The taste of ripe fruits is pleasant, but at the same time, there is a slight bitter aftertaste in the reviews.
Important! The earlier the Gaka fruits were harvested, the less bitterness they will contain. It is recommended to harvest the crop before the fruiting liana enters the final phase.
In Europe, Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is not found in the wild. Here the plant is grown as an ornamental or fruit crop only in greenhouses and botanical gardens. In Asia, Momordica Kokhinhinskaya is distributed as a wild plant in:
- and also in the Philippines.
Composition, nutritional value and calorie content of exotic fruits
The beneficial properties of Momordika Kokhinhinskaya are due to the rich chemical composition of all parts of plants: fruits, leaves and roots. The content of the following substances in Gake is especially high:
- stearic acid;
- vitamin C;
- micro- and macroelements (sodium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, copper, iodine).
Gaka's calorie content is only 19 calories per 100 g.
Important! Sometimes Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya is confused with another subspecies of the family - Momordika Harantia, however, the properties of these plants are largely different.
Benefit and harm
Regular moderate consumption of Gaka brings undeniable benefits to the body. Momordika Kokhinhinskaya have the following effects on human health:
- strengthens the immune system;
- increases the overall tone of the body;
- prevents the development of gastrointestinal diseases;
- normalizes the activity of the female organs of the genitourinary system;
- has a preventive effect against cancer;
- relieves headache;
- increases the level of hemoglobin;
- improves blood clotting;
- normalizes blood sugar levels;
- helps with rheumatism, relieves pain in joints and muscles;
- reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases;
- reduces stress in the nervous system, which helps with insomnia, chronic fatigue and depression;
- has a regenerating effect in purulent-inflammatory processes;
- reduces puffiness;
- normalizes lymph exchange processes, disruption of which leads to the formation of cellulite;
- improves metabolism;
- removes toxins and toxins from the body;
- improves vision;
- stimulates the production of collagen and elastin;
- heals burns and mechanical damage to the skin;
- helps to get rid of skin imperfections when applied externally;
- the seeds of Momordika Kokhinhinskaya have an anti-febrile effect;
- the root of the plant is used as an expectorant for bronchitis.
Despite the extensive list of useful properties, Gak also has a number of contraindications. In particular, this product is not recommended for use in the following cases:
- During pregnancy, eating foods from Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya can provoke a miscarriage, since its fruits have too intense a tonic effect on the uterus.
- When breastfeeding, there is a high risk of developing an allergic reaction in an infant.
- Children under the age of 3 years are not able to fully assimilate the substances contained in the fruits of Momordika.
- With increased sensitivity of the laryngeal mucosa. The pulp of the fruit provokes severe sore throat in this case.
- It is better not to include dishes from Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya in the diet for urolithiasis. Regular consumption of the fruits of the plant makes it difficult to remove calculi.
- You can not eat Momordika Kokhinhinskaya in food with intestinal diverticulosis in order to avoid severe colic.
- During menstruation, substances contained in various parts of the plant provoke intense bleeding.
Advice! It is not recommended to introduce the fruits of Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya into the diet too sharply. First, you should observe how the body reacts to a new product, since the plant often provokes severe allergic reactions and intestinal upset.
Momordika Kokhinhinskaya has found wide application in cooking. More often, various parts of the plant are used to prepare salads, caviar and jam, while the bitterness is removed by soaking in salt water. The following recipe for caviar from Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is quite popular:
- The pulp soaked in salt water is finely chopped. You will need 500-600 g of pulp.
- The onion is cut into small pieces. Two large onions are enough.
- 2-3 carrots are finely grated and mixed with chopped garlic (4-6 cloves).
- All ingredients are mixed and placed in a skillet.
- The mixture is fried in sunflower oil until a soft gruel is formed.
- During the roasting process, caviar is salted and peppercorn to taste. When fully cooked, you can additionally pass the mixture through a blender or knead it with a fork for better uniformity.
To prepare cold jam, the pulp is dried on paper towels, then mixed with lemon and orange, kneaded in a meat grinder. Gaka seeds are also often fried in a breading of flour, eggs and sour cream, boiled and used as a vitamin supplement to soups. The taste of the fruit is emphasized by their combination with cucumbers, tomatoes, fried pork, grated coconut and yoghurt. Powdered seeds are added to the dough for sweet pastries.
Advice! The pulp of the fruit can also be eaten raw, however, it is necessary to remove the areas located near the seeds.
Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is grown from seeds, however, planting a plant in open ground is possible only in regions with a warm climate. On the territory of central and northern Russia, Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya is bred exclusively in greenhouse conditions; it is also quite popular to grow a plant on a balcony. In this case, you should adhere to the following recommendations:
- Momordika Kokhinhinskaya does not tolerate open sunlight, so it is necessary to provide the plant with a little shade. It is best to place Momordika on balconies with a west or south orientation.
- Strong drafts and sudden temperature changes negatively affect the development of vines. In some cases, such growing conditions lead to the death of the plant.
- It is recommended to avoid over-watering Momordika. Stagnant moisture is detrimental to the root system of the plant. In order for excess water not to linger in the ground, good drainage is necessary.
- Liana develops best on loose soils with weak acidity.
- The root system of Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is rather superficial, therefore, too large containers for planting vines are not used. The recommended volume of a pot or container is 10 liters. Containers less than 5 liters are not suitable for the plant.
- Momordika Kokhinhinskaya is a large plant, and its fruits are rather heavy. In this regard, liana is grown mainly on a trellis, otherwise the shoots will break off.
- For better development, Momordica is pinched. Usually 2-3 strongest lashes are left.
- When growing Momordika Kokhinkhinskaya in home or greenhouse conditions, it is necessary to artificially pollinate the plant. To do this, use a soft brush with which the anthers are fanned from one flower and transferred to another.
You can learn more about growing Gaka in the garden from the video below:
Some interesting facts about the Cochin Khan Momordik
There are several interesting facts from the history of plant breeding:
- The plant's name is based on the unusual property of the vine - it is impossible to touch it with bare hands before the fruits begin to ripen. Momordika Kokhinhinskaya before the beginning of fruiting "bites" like nettles, severely burning hands. That is why the plant was named Momordica, which means "bite" in Latin. In addition, the appearance of the leaves of the vine, according to the inhabitants of Asia, resembles a dog bite.
- Dried Momordica pulp is a must-have in Indian curry.
- Now the plant is an accessible fruit crop that anyone can grow, however, in ancient times this was impossible. Momordica was considered a noble plant that was forbidden to be eaten by ordinary people. Moreover, violation of this prohibition was punishable by death. Dishes from Momordika were prepared only for members of the imperial family.
Momordica Kokhinhinskaya is highly valued in Asia as a medicinal plant, while in Europe, the taste of this exotic culture is of greater interest. In Russia, Momordica is almost impossible to grow outdoors, however, this does not interfere with the spread of the plant - it is planted in greenhouses and on balconies, using both as a fruit crop and as decoration. Momordica is gaining more and more popularity due to its beneficial properties and unusual taste, and the relative unpretentiousness of the plant is also of no less importance.