Cooking with gourds
How well do you know these Indian gourds?
In India, different types of gourds are cultivated throughout the year. Some of them are harvested around the monsoon and are very fresh and tender during this period. By now, we must be aware that the fresher a vegetable is, the tastier and more nutritious it is. No wonder our mums used to nag us about eating lauki, karela, and tinde during the monsoon when we were kids!
Gourds have versatile usages – they go well in sambars and stir-fries and can also be used to prepare curries and fried snacks. It’s definitely worth knowing more about them and savouring them by including their preparations in our diet.
Here are some gourds that are easily found during the monsoon.
This popular vegetable goes by many names such as lauki, dudhi, and ghiya. The bottle gourd is peeled and then diced, grated, or cooked and mashed to prepare a variety of dishes. The bottle gourd preparations are numerous – one can make soft koftas, quick parathas, spicy curry, even the sweet halwa.
It’s not surprising that it’d be rare to find someone claiming that the bitter gourd is their favourite veggie. The trick to keep the karela’s bitterness at bay is removing the rough surface, its seeds and applying salt or yoghurt to it. Once you get over the bitterness, the bitter gourd can be turned into a tasty fried snack or a simple curry.
Popularly known as tinda, this vegetable looks like a cross between an apple and a pumpkin. One can utilise fresh apple gourds in spicy curries and dals.
They resemble long green snakes but let us assure you that it is far from being poisonous. It is used in stir-fries, curries, and curd chutneys. The vegetable has a whitish layer on the outside and is peeled and deseeded before consumption. It goes by the names of padwal and potlakaya.
As the name suggests, this gourd has firm ridges across its external surface that are peeled off before cooking. It is a popular vegetable with many local names such as torai, dodka, jhinge, beerakaya, etc. Ridge gourd is often cooked with a mixture of lentils. It is also consumed as a spicy chutney or a simple curry.
The luffa gourd is a very close cousin of the ridge gourd. Known by names such as gilki, ghiraula, ghosavala, it is used to make chutneys, curries, and fried bhajiyas. Interestingly, it is also allowed to mature and later dried and processed to make loofahs for bathing and scrubbing, hence giving it the name luffa gourd.
The scarlet gourd, tindora, tondli, or kowai fruit is a common vegetable in central and southern India. It is often used in sambar and curries but the crowd-pleaser preparations of this little gourd are stuffed and fried tendlis, and tondli bhaat.
The teasel gourd, spiny gourd, or hedgehog gourd is a small egg-shaped, spiky vegetable that tastes similar to the bitter gourd. It is peeled, deseeded and often stuffed and pan-fried or dipped in a batter and fried until golden brown.
Do you have any ‘guarded recipes’ of the gourds? Share them with us in the comments.