INDIA. Delhi: What’s in a name? If we look into current happenings, a lot goes in a name, yes, a lot. Gujarat Government recently announced its intentions to rename Dragon fruit as ‘Kamalam’ for its unique pink colour, and scaly exterior which resembles a lot of lotus petals. Kamalam as a matter of fact means lotus in Sanskrit, the symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in India.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani said, “The outer shape of the fruit resembles a lotus. Hence, dragon fruit shall be renamed as Kamalam”. He added, “This is yet another step towards going vocal for local.”
Dragon Fruit has been cultivated widely in recent years in Gujarat, and today more than 200 farmers in Kutch alone are growing it over 1,500 acres. The fruit is also grown in neighbouring states and also in northeastern India.
Prime Minister Modi also has praised farmers in a recent radio program for cultivating the dragon fruit in the arid region of Kutch in Gujarat. And in the process, the BJP led government in Gujarat has already applied for patenting the name of the variety of the fruit grown in Gujarat as ‘Kamalam’.
The exotic Dragon fruit has a nutrient-rich composition along with antioxidants that have led to a surge in the demand for this fruit. The fruit originally comes from a wild cactus species indigenous to Mexico, Central America, and South America. It reached Asia via Vietnam by the French in the early 1800s.
Dragon fruits are also called Pitaya Roja, or simply pitaya and pitahaya depending on genus, as well as strawberry pear and even night-blooming cereus. They are available year-round and are botanically classified as Hylocereus constaricensus or Hylocereus polyrhizus. The fruit grows in tropical low lands and is a type of climbing cactus plant with a life of about twenty years. The plants fruit during the summer months (June to October).
Dragon fruit is highly rich in vitamin C and also has a high fiber content. They are a good source of potassium and phosphorus, other minerals, B-complex vitamins, protein, antioxidants (from the betacyanins), lycopene, and carotene. Dried Dragon fruit is ten-times more nutritional than fresh fruit. Dragon fruit is also good for eyes and skin and protects the skin from ultraviolet damage. The fruit also helps in increasing hemoglobin and boosts immunity.
Uses of Dragon fruit
Dragon fruit’s flesh is normally white or red and is full of tiny seeds just like the kiwifruit. It is eaten fresh, scooped with a spoon directly from the rind, and is an ingredient in fruit bars, jellies, juice, yogurt, and smoothies. Dragon fruit can also be of yellow skin with a different flavor and has a mild taste while the red ones are sweeter and juicier.
The dragon fruit pulp is used to make smoothies, sorbets, and other desserts because of its mild flavor. It is also used to make other sweet and savoury dishes from salads and relishes to cakes and tacos.