Sandia Ochumare

Watermelon Ochumare

In their facinating book Afro-Cuban Cuisine: Its Myths and Legends, Natalia Bolívar Aróstegui and Carmen González Días de Villegas describe this festive and refreshing dessert as part of a menu to please Yemayá, the Yoruba orisha of the sea and mother of the universe.


  • 1 small round seedless watermelon
  • ½ cup guarapo (sugarcane juice), or ¼ cup sugar dissolved in ½ cup water
  • ½ cup aguardiente or light rum
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Fresh mint


Cut off the top of the melon for a lid. With a sharp knife and a large spoon, hollow out the watermelon, removing chunks large enough to dice into bite-size pieces, reserving any juice. Dice the melon flesh and set it aside in a large bowl. Pour the juice from the melon through a strainer into a large measuring cup. To 1 cup watermelon juice, add the guarapo, aguardiente, and lime juice. Peel and dice the pineapple, and peel and slice the orange into rounds. Add the pineapple, orange, and grapes to the melon in the bowl. Gently spoon the fruit back into the melon shell and carefully pour in the juice mixture. Put on the lid and chill the watermelon until very cold. Serve, garnished with mint.