Khandalak melons (aka Chandalak or Handalak) are virtually unknown to gardeners in America. I’ve been growing melons for close to fifty years and until Kajari came along in 2015, introduced by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I had no clue what I was missing. My sample size is as small as can be—one cultivar grown twice, in successive summers—but it was enough to get bitten by the Khandalak bug. Later, while flipping through the pages of Melons of Uzbekistan and the Turkmen Melons Atlas, I was excited to find Kajari look-alikes and many other dreamy sorts just waiting for me.
Khandalak cultivars are primarily grown in Central Asia and India. These are sweet dessert melons, climacteric, that slip from the vine when ripe. Their shelf life is shorter than most. They are either round or oblate, sometimes netted, but not prominently lobed, wrinkled, or warted. Their skin ranges in color from cream to maroon to orange brown and is sometimes speckled; green vein tracts are usually in evidence. Khandalaks ordinarily have green flesh, but some have white or orange.
Pitrat (2017) recently proposed four sub-groups: Zami, Tachmi, Garma, and Bucharici. Kajari qualifies as a Zami. The boldness of its maroon stripes and veinal tracts, intense green at their center, is a study in contrasts— and the melon’s most remarkable feature. I flipped my lid when I first saw it on the vine.