Balam Kakdi: The Seasonal Special Cucumber From Central India
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Like gourds or lemons, cucumbers have also been known to have different indigenous varieties that change according to season, around India. The mostly arid regions of Central India – consisting of places like Indore, Ratlam, Malwa, Jhabua and Sailana – usually tend to experience a heatwave as the monsoon season comes to an end. To combat this, a fleshy, juicy variety of cucumber – known as the balam kakdi, is often spotted around local marketplaces.

Mostly seen growing around the banks of small water bodies like ponds or lakes, the balam kakdi is a hydrating variety of cucumber that yields during the Sharad season spanning from mid-September to mid-November. Possessing excellent coolant properties to combat acidity, the balam kakdi tastes sweeter than the regular cucumbers and has flavours similar to papaya, cucumber and musk melon. Although native to Central India, the balam kakdi is also found in Rajasthan and Gujarat during the autumn months and has an appearance similar to bottle gourd.

Due to its hyper-cooling properties, traditionally the cucumber is supposed to be consumed before sunset, in order to avoid aggravating symptoms of pitta – Ayurvedic term for acidity. These giant, light green cucumbers are usually eaten with a sprinkling of rock salt and pepper, and can also be prepared similar to the Maharashtrian khamang kakdi preparation. Also known as chikan kakdi in Gujarati, the indigenous cucumber is used to make cheelas – savoury gram flour pancakes as well as a regional preparation called paaneela – where the cucumber-based batter is flattened and steamed.

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Similar to a regular cucumber, the culinary uses for the balam kakdi have also been adapted in preparations that would otherwise use the commonly eaten summer vegetable. So, preparations like the dhondas (Maharashtrian cucumber cake), raita, gazpacho and salads can also incorporate this indigenous, lesser-known variety. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners also prescribe the balam kheera churna – a dehydrated herbal powder, that can be mixed with water and consumed on an empty stomach, to combat indigestion, heart burn and hyper-acidity. Here is a recipe for a simple balam kakdi raita, that you can recreate at home:


  • 1 large balam kakdi
  • 1.5 cups yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon neem flowers
  • 2 teaspoons jaggery
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated coconut
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste


  • Deseed and grate the balam kakdi, mix with the yoghurt and set aside.
  • Make a tempering by heating the oil and adding the asafoetida and mustard seeds.
  • Meanwhile, mix in the remaining ingredients into the cucumber-yoghurt mixture and pour the bubbling tempering on top.
  • Stir thoroughly to combine and serve with regular meals of roti, sabzi, dal-chawal.