Arabic: Khiyar Cucumis sativus; Cucurbitaceae (Gourd Family)
Cucumbers are produced on small farms throughout the Arabian Peninsula and sold in local fruit and vegetable markets. Cucumbers have long been known in eastern and western traditional medicine as one of the best natural diuretics. The effect is in the seeds, which are rich in sulfur, silicon and potassium.
Cucumbers originated in Asia, probably in India, and spread into Europe about 3000 years ago. Today Indian medicine prescribes cucumber juice for an array of ailments, including constipation, stomach disorders, urinary problems, rheumatism and even cholera.
How to use: 1) Slice or finely chop the cucumber to add to salads; 2) Slice, grate or mash the cucumber for use in skin-care applications.
In the kitchen: Middle Eastern cuisine would not be the same without the cucumber. Traditional salads, such as fattoush and tabbouleh, call for this fruit posing as a vegetable, as does the popular yogurt and cucumber salad, which complements and cools rice and meat dishes. Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, drizzled with lemon juice and garnished with fresh mint and parsley, form the renowned cucumber and tomato salad. Arranged decoratively on a serving plate, it is a simple yet healthy choice.
Remedies across Arabia: Suparna Trikha, one of India’s leading natural beauty experts, advised that the juice made from cucumber skin can be a soothing lotion and skin cleanser. She also suggested grating cucumber and massaging the pulp into the skin and leaving it to dry. Splashing fresh water and gently wiping the face after 10 minutes or so is a good way to slow the advance of wrinkles. Additionally, cucumber slices are put on swollen eyes, to reduce the swelling.
Did you know?
- Cucumbers were a popular food in ancient Rome, and historian Pliny the Elder reports that the Emperor Tiberius ate large quantities.
- The cucumber is a fruit because it contains the seeds to reproduce. Botanically speaking, a fruit is the mature ovary of a plant, such as a cucumber, apple, melon or tomato.
- Cucumbers, along with squash, melons and pumpkins, belong to the group of vegetables known as cucurbits, or vine crops.