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African watermelon salad
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How to:

Make watermelon salsa

Watermelon is great served as a treat on a hot summer's day, but if there is any left, use it to make a watermelon salsa that can be served with barbecued fish.

You'll need:

1 spring onion, finely diced 
½ cucumber diced 
a handful of coriander leaves 
2 T lime juice 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make: simply gently combine all the ingredients and keep chilled until you are ready to serve

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Recipe by: Kobus van der Merwe
Serves: 6
Allergens: Wheat free / Gluten free
Dietary considerations: Fat conscious / Health conscious / Dairy free
Category: Gourmet
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
1/2 large watermelon, cubed and seeded
Olive oil, to drizzle
a handful basil leaves
Rosemary flowers, to garnish
For the pickled maketaan rind
1 cup water
6 t white grape vinegar
4 T sugar
1 T mustard seeds
1 T coriander seeds
a pinch sea salt
Maketaan rind, peeled and finely sliced
For the geranium granita
1 cup water
6 T sugar
a handful fresh rose-geranium leaves
For the watermelon and chilli granita
1 cup watermelon juice
1 chilli, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cucumber and buttermilk sorbet
1 large cucumber, diced
1 cup buttermilk
Sea salt and white pepper, to taste
Cooking instructions:

Arrange cubes of watermelon on plates and intersperse with slices of pickled maketaan. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with basil leaves and rosemary flowers.

Scrape the granitas using a fork to form ice crystals and add spoonfuls to each plate, with a little sorbet.  

To pickle the maketaan rind, boil all the ingredients until the rind is tender. 

To make the geranium granita, dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat. Add the leaves and infuse for 1 hour. Strain and freeze.

To make the watermelon and chilli granita, mix the watermelon juice and chilli, then season to taste. Strain and freeze. 

To make the sorbet, blend the cucumber and buttermilk until smooth, then strain and season. Churn in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and freeze.

Cook's note:T’samma, karkoer, maketaan – the indigenous wild ancestors of the delicious watermelon. To me it makes perfect sense that nature’s own thirst-quencher originated in Africa. The true African watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), although not as sweet as its cultivated counterpart (Citrullus lanatus subsp. vulgaris), is as much a part of our food heritage as boerewors and umphokoqo.

It’s certainly not a store cupboard basic to be found at your local greengrocer, but farm stalls across the country still stock jars of sweet waatlemoenkonfyt or fleshy maketaan marmalade prepared according to family recipes passed down through the generations.

I’m sure, to most people, biting into the sweet, juicy flesh of a watermelon brings back vivid childhood memories of hot summers and sticky watermelon fights.

Although it’s ambrosia on its own, watermelon also pairs nicely with a variety of flavours ranging from savoury to sweet.

Try it in a late summer starter with sharp pickled onion, fragrant basil and cucumbermimicking borage, drizzled with grassy olive oil.

Watermelon also loves salty pairings – just think of the Mediterranean salads where it’s served with salty cheese or olives.

And, for a refreshing African salad, combine the sweet cultivated watermelon with its wild forefather, and top it with flavoured water ices and fresh herbs, just as I’ve done here.

Wine: Dornier Cocoa Hills Rose 2011

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