Sweetened Winter Melon (Kundol) with Pili Nuts
Back then as a child we would always see a lot of Kundol or Winter Melon in our barrio especially near our Fiesta or Feast for our Saint in May. Our neighbors would prepare Sweetened Winter Melon (Kundol) with Pili Nuts and we always look forward to having this perfectly paired dessert.
Kundol or Winter melon is scientifically called Benincasa hispida. It is also called ash gourd, wax gourd, white gourd, and winter gourd. In the Philippines, we sweeten Kundol and some stew it in coconut milk. It’s best pair is Pili. Pili nut is one of our top products. It’s name is derived from the Latin term Canarium ovatum. There are many Pili trees that grow in Bicol Region.
The shape of Pili nuts resembles a teardrop that may vary from an inch to 3 inches. Pili nuts are covered by a hard shell and they also have a coating—often sticking to the shell. We also eat the nuts’ coating by softening the coats in a hot water over 10-15 minutes. After, we can peel the black skin and we can eat the creamy coating. We dip them in a fish sauce or soy sauce with chili and calamansi or in sugar.
Pili nuts are creamy and savory. They’re rich in fats and protein, a perfect source of various exogenous amino acids, contain the highest amount of magnesium from among all nuts. A single serving of pili nuts will cover your recommended daily dose of both manganese and copper – https://eatpilinuts.com/blogs/blog/6-health-benefits-of-pili-nuts).
We can say, Kundol or Winter Melon and Pili Nuts are such a perfect pair for dessert. It’s also very cheap in our country. The total cost of all the ingredients here is just around $3.00.
Suha Kastila is a family of citrus, they’re small as peas and extract lemon like juice which enhance the flavor and the fragrance of this dessert.
Preparation and Cooking Process
Cut the Kundol or Winter Melon in two, scrape the meat. Put them in a pan. Boil for about 5-10 minutes. Place in a bowl and drain. In another pan, put the Pili nuts with brown skin, boil for at least 5 minutes until you can peel off the brown skin. Drain and put them in a bowl.
In a big pan, add 2 cups of water, 6 cups of brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Stir constantly until the water subsides and the mixture is a little sticky. Add in the boiled 6 cups of Kundol or Winter Melon, add 1 cup pili nuts, 10-15 pieces suhang kastila (if you don’t have this) you may use lemon spirit/sliced lemon peels and 1/4 cup dried raisins. Mix well. Simmer for at least 10 minutes more.
My gratitude to Juliet Baroso – my mother-in-law for the preparation and cooking.