Pipitada (Melon-Seed Drink)

Stella Cohen
Recipe by
Stella Cohen

This delicious, refreshing melon-seed drink has a subtle almond taste, perfumed with orange blossom water.

I simply adore this drink, as do most Sephardim I know. We’d usually just have pipitada to break the Yom Kippur fast as it helps rehydrate. This was customary in Sephardic communities from Rhodes and Salonica. Each year, I’d wonder why we didn’t make it more often – maybe because it takes time to collect enough seeds for the recipe. My mother religiously collected seeds from cantaloupes or other melons when in season.

For this recipe you need the seeds from about 4-5 melons. Wash the seeds well in a colander to remove all the fleshy parts and lay out to dry on tea towels for a day or two in the sun, or if weather does not permit dry them in a 95°C (200°F) oven for 10 minutes. Dried seeds can be stored in an airtight glass jar for up to 1 year.

1 cup sweet melon seeds
3 cups water
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  1. Grind the seeds to a fine powder in a food processor a day before you want to serve.
  2. Put the ground seeds in cheesecloth, bring the corners together and tie securely. Fill a bowl with about 3 cups of water and immerse the ground seeds in their cheesecloth bag in the water. Leave in the fridge overnight. Squeeze the cheesecloth from time to time to release the milky essence from the seeds into the water.
  3. Squeeze the cloth tightly to extract as much moisture as possible out of the seeds. Discard the seeds. Add the sugar and orange blossom water to the milky liquid and refrigerate in a pitcher. Serve chilled.

Stella's Twist on Tradition

For a creamier taste, my mother would add 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds to the ground melon seeds when placing them in the cheesecloth.

Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.

Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.