Also known as
White gourd, winter melon, white pumpkin, wax gourd, petha
Ash gourd is a vine which is eaten as a vegetable. It is oblong in shape, can be around 1 to 2 metres in length, have a smooth or finely ribbed rind and a lightly yellow or greenish flesh. This gourd keeps well for a longer time and is thus readily exported. These gourds were originally cultivated in South ease Asia but have gained popularity in other parts of the world also.
How to select
Chopped ash gourd
To chop, first cut the fruit from middle. Cut as much as required and store the rest. If using a pre cut wedge, peel the ash gourd using a knife or a peeler and deseed. Cut into cubes or dices or chop as per recipe.
Ensure that the gourd has a smooth rind, is free from blemishes and is firm to hold. Check for freshness before purchasing. It is usually available in dark green or pale green rinds. If you want to purchase ripe ash gourd, ensure that the skin of the gourd is whitish green in colour. This is an indicator of ripeness.Culinary Uses
· In India, it is used to prepare a traditional sweet called Petha. It is pieces of gourd cooked in sugar syrup and then dried to allow hardening. It is a delicacy in Agra. You need good quality and ripe ash gourd for this recipe.
· In South India, it is used in various ways. Use it with dal to make Kootu, or add along with other vegetables in Sambhar, Avial etc.
· Use in making winter melon soup, juices or stir fries of your choice.How to store
Store it under refrigerated conditions. If a part of the fruit is cut, cover with newspaper and then store. Health Benefits
· Ash gourd consists of substantial amount of moisture and a little amount of protein, fat, fiber and carbohydrates. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C.
· Due to its diuretic action, it increases the output of urine and washes out waste products from the body.
· Ash gourd juice when combined with water can be given to people who have peptic ulcers.
· Cooked and sweetened ash gourd can help people suffering from heart ailments, anemia, body heat etc.
· Being low in calories, it is helpful for people maintaining a diet and people suffering from diabetes.
· Husked seeds of ash gourd when consumed with coconut milk can help eject tapeworms etc from the intestine.