The Devil’s Gazpacho – Eating Kiwano, the African Horned Cucumber

kiwano gazpacho – African horned cucumber with yoghurt

Take a good look at this guy. Seriously. How scary does that look? It’s terrifying, isn’t it? Well, at least for a cucumber it is. This is a kiwano, an African horned cucumber or melon. I’m not sure why the cucumber/melon ambiguity exists, but to me, this monster tasted like a cucumber more than a melon. I don’t know much about this fruit, and I am currently too exhausted and not overly keen to trawl the web to find out too much information, mainly because the culinary possibilities of the kiwano seem somewhat limited. It’s basically a bunch of liquidy seeds that taste like a citrusy cucumber.

sliced kiwano

I bought two kiwanos from the Bellingen market this weekend. For twenty cents each, this is probably the cheapest exotic fruit I’ve ever bought. Let me describe it to you.  The kiwano is about the size of the palm of my hand, which is a biggish hand. The thorny bits are vicious, not decorative. It seems the kiwano was evolving into a land mammal at some stage and needed hedgehog-like protection, and during it’s evolution, it changed its mind and remained a fruit, but kept the thorns for style and comfort. Slicing into a kiwano is easy. The “wall” which protects the seeds is on the thick side, and as far as I know, is not delectablely edible. The seeds are akin to large cucumber seeds, encased by a liquidy membrane. The flavour is similar to that of a cucumber, only with a strong citrus profile. With the heat of Sydney today, a cooling gazpacho-like soup seemed in order. Now, I am aware that gazpacho doesn’t have yoghurt, and that it should contain vinegar, and the other 1000 rules that go with it, but hey, it just sounds better than saying chilled cucumber soup, so please allow me this one.  I threw this gazpacho together in a few minutes and it was great. The balance of flavours is completely within your control, so add more or less of any of the ingredients below. No lemon juice is needed because the kiwano is acidic enough. Have you ever seen a kiwano, and what do you think of it?

kiwano at the Bellingen markets

The Devil’s Gazpacho – Kiwano Recipe


  • 1 Kiwano, seeds and liquid only
  • 250 ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 spanish onion, sliced
  • 1/2 bird’s eye chili
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • good pinch of salt
  • small handful of mint


  • put aside 3 tbsp kiwano seeds for garnish
  • put all other ingredients  in blender and blend until smooth
  • strain, store in the fridge until very cold.
  • put the gazpacho in a freezer for 20 minutes before serving
  • serve in small shot glasses with a bit of olive oil and the reserved kiwano seeds as garnish


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