Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pomelo Salad (Bhogate Saadeko) – भोगटे or भगटे सांधेको

It is Bhogate season in Nepal! Enjoy the classic citrus salad dish, especially made during the winter season  -  sweet, sour, tangy dish, adorned by dry-roasted sesame seeds, salt, sugar, yogurt, chili and several other spices.  We call it "Bhogate Saadeko or Bhogate Saandheko".
Fruit and Vegetable Market in Kathmandu - The lady in red khasto shawl is filling her large bag with hand-picked and freshly delivered bhogate - perhaps she is planning to make pomelo salad.
Attention shoppers! High quality fresh pomelo have just arrived in Nepali markets - looks like the pomelos are fighting for attention - and they are destined for a saadeko dish.
Pomelo is known as “bhogate - भोगटे or भगटे" in Nepali language. It is one of the largest citrus fruit, thick-skinned and grown in subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Like grapefruit, pomelos are pink or yellow, with fibrous flesh separated into segments by membranes. The fruit is covered by a thick, tough, and loose fitting skin, which peels off easily with some effort.  Bhogate is abundant in the winter months (December-January) in Nepal. Even though this salad-like fruit dish is probably hard to find in Katmandu restaurant menus, it is a great favorite of Nepalese. The preparation of the refreshing salad is a leisurely family affair. Typically, family members, relatives, and friends gather in the sunniest part of the house, usually the top open floor (kausi) or the sunny part of the garden or porch area, on a warm sunny day. A large amount of pomelos are brought in and everyone helps to peel the fruit, separate it into segments, and mix with spices. 
When the green skin of pomelo starts to change to yellow, it indicates that the pomelo have ripened, and so will become juicier with best flavor. Some of the Nepali pomelo growers will not pick up the fruit from the tree, until they are fully ripened. Other growers pick the fruit while they are still light yellow-green and store it for more than a month for a better flavor before using it. 

Common name: Pomelo, Pummelo, Pompelmous, Botanical name - Citrus  grandis (L.) Osbeck)

Be careful to select ripe pomelos.  When ripe, the fruit is dry, and the flesh is firm, and has a slightly sweet-tangy taste. Some of the immature pomelos can be bitter, dry and overpowering taste and the fruit may not be suitable for the salad.  Choose the ones that are heavy for their size then you will end up with juicy pomelos.

Below is the recipe for most delicious, classic salad made for my family especially during the season of pomelo - tastes heavenly in its own way, based on a recipe from my book "Taste of Nepal - page 40-41".

4-6 medium white of red pomelos, peeled and sectioned
4-6 medium navel oranges, peeled and sectioned
¼ cup light brown sesame seeds
2 cups plain yogurt, stirred well
½ cup sugar (add more if the pomelo is sour)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Szechwan pepper (timmur), finely ground with a mortar and pestle
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons mustard oil
½ teaspoons fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
A small pinch ground asafetida (less than 1/8 teaspoon)

With sharp paring knife, prepare the pomelo by peeling and separating them into segments. The segments can be difficult to get to because of the thick rind. The membranes are tough and inedible. Discard the white membranes, seeds, and place in a large bowl.

Heat a small skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat and dry-roast the sesame seeds, stirring, constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the seeds from flying all over, until they give off a pleasant aroma, and the sesame seeds are a few shades darker, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the seeds from the skilled and pour in dry container to stop from further roasting. Cool and transfer to spice grinder and grind to make fine powder. A mortar and pestle can also be used to grind the spices.

Combine the pomelos, with orange segments, ground sesame seeds, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, black pepper, timmur, and salt, and mix gently.

Heat the mustard oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the fenugreek seeds and fry until dark brown and fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the turmeric, and asafetida. Immediately pour these spices into citrus mixture and stir well. The finished dish should be spicy, sweet, tangy and tart. Adjust the seasoning accordingly. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes to allow the seasonings and flavor to develop. Transfer the pomelo salad to a bowl and serve - makes 4-6 servings.

How to peel a pomelo - with a sharp paring knife, slice about 1 ½ inches off from the top end of pomelo or remove the cap off until the flesh is exposed like in the above picture.

Cut several vertical slice-lines all around the pomelo moving your knife from top to bottom.  Pull each outer thick-spongy skin.  You may have to use some force.

 The above picture of the pomelo peel will be made into pomelo skin hat (भोगटे को टोपी).  Nepali children would love to wear and play with the hat, a perfect hat for their amusements.  It is also a popular past time for young children to kick the pomelo skin like a football during the salad preparation time.  
Pull away all the membrane that surrounds each segments and continue this process until you have removed it all. is a picture of perfectly peeled pomelo..
..... Can't resist these mouth-watering -  भगटे सांधेको dish - This is one of the most popular and refreshing salad dish which I grew up eating in Nepal enjoying with my siblings, cousins, and other relatives.  This dish was typically prepared during the weekends of push-maagh (पौष/पुष, माघ), the winter months  in Nepal.  All the family members would gather in the uppermost section in the sunny and open area of the house that we call it "kausi".  We used to sit cross-legged, on a sukul mat (woven straw mats) or carpets and help peel the citrus fruits.  Pomelos have a very heavy, thick skin and yields more cottony pith than the fruit itself.  You need to have a lot of patients to peel, and separate the fruits into segments, but we were more interested in pomelo skin hat (भोगटे को टोपी) and take off to play as soon as the skin of the fruit was separated.  It was such a joyful occasion. 
You can serve the pomelo salad by itself or with other snacks and beverages, for a leisurely afternoon get-together.  It is best eaten right away or can be stored in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days and served chilled.
If you can't find pomelo in your area, you can substitute with regular grapefruits. Here, in the part of the US where I live, I have started to see large-sized pomelos in my supermarkets, but not regularly. So I tried to recreate “bhogote saandeko” dish with regular grapefruits and found it just as good and full of flavor.  The following recipe is made with pink variety of grapefruits.  
Combine the grapefruit with orange segments, dry-roasted sesame seeds, plain yogurt, sugar, fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, timmur, and salt to taste in a mixing bowl.
... mix well
Heat the mustard oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the fenugreek seeds, and fry until dark brown and fragrant (5 seconds).  Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the turmeric and asafetida.  Immediately pour the entire content into the citrus mixture and stir well.  The finished dish should be spicy, sweet, tangy and tart.  Adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Transfer the grapefruit salad to a bowl and serve.
The picture (above and bottom) - is captured from my cousin's backyard garden in Nepal and I would like to share the pictures with my blog readers. Her garden was full of citrus fruit trees, such as oranges, lemon, tangerines, but the most impressive was the hundreds of pomelos hanging from the tree,  just ready to be picked.  She was kind enough to give me a large bushel of pomelo and informed me that these pink variety are much sweeter and much sought after in Nepal compared to the white ones.

Here are some interesting link on pomelo that you may want to check it out.

 "How to clean a pomelo like a professional fruit seller", please click here to watch the helpful video on YouTube.

"Sweet and sour Bhogate Sandeko" from Republica Newspaper (Leisure Section), please click here to see the page.

An article by ECS Nepal - "Tangy to Taste" by Yukta Bajracharya.  Please click here for the link.

Refreshing, delicious recipe and information from Desigrub Blog -  "Pomelo salad (Bhogatee Paun)".  Please click here to read his blog.

Another recipe and informative article from, Nepaliaustralian blog - "One of the things widely eaten in Nepal after the festival of Tihar is Bhogate Sandheko also during Mha Puja and Bhai Tika." Please click here to read her blog.


  1. Mouth watering. Can't wait to come to Nepal and eat all that :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. WOW, such a nice blog about taste of Nepal. Good Job.
    I also just started blogging.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you for reading my blog. I do not know if Bhogote is good fruit for diabetic people.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Mam i live in kathmandu and i am searching for red bhogat...can u provide me some information where can i get the fruit from...thank u!

  7. Namaskar and thank you for writing

    The pink bhogote shown here is from my mother’s garden. I am sure you will find them at Nepali vegetable market.

    1. Mam u have posted the picture from a market can u exactly tell me where those places are located it would be a great help

    2. The picture of grapefruits were taken in front of Gaddi Baithak in Durbar Square, kathmandu during Tihar time.

    3. And around how much does the red bhogate cost?

    4. I suggest you to go to vegetable market and find out the price.