Ash Gourd in Bengali & Indian Cooking: Things to Know

Ash gourd or white gourd is also called winter melon. It is a member of the pumpkin family. Fresh, young ash gourds have thin, green skin and soft, white flesh.

Ash gourds taste a little bit sweet. This vegetable finds a wider use mainly in Indian and Chinese cuisines.

The veggie is grown on roofs and thus, has got its name. It is high in water content and so keeps our body cool. The feature explains why this vegetable sells like hot cakes during the summer season.

Ash gourd is so soft that after being cooked, it takes almost no time to melt in your mouth.

This delicate and velvety vegetable is used to prepare a wider variety of Indian cuisines. Ash gourd curry is one of the most frequently cooked dishes in summer.

Cooking Ash Gourd

Uses of Ash Gourd in Bengali & Indian Cuisines

Ash gourd curry is the most popular Indian dish that can be prepared with this vegetable. The curry is prepared in different styles in different regions of our country.

In Bengal, this curry is famously known as chal kumror ghanto. In Bengali cuisine, ghanto means something ‘smashed’. Bangals and ghatis prepare the dish in different ways.

Ghatis add sugar towards the end of the cooking (they use sugar for almost all vegetable dishes) whereas bangals use grated coconut and milk to prepare the dish. Sometimes, coconut milk instead of cow milk is used.

For ghanto, Ash gourd is so finely chopped that it almost feels like pulp after being cooked. Fried baris are added to give a crunchy feel to smashed ash gourd.

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The simplicity of this recipe is overpowered by its amazing taste. This niramish tarkari goes well with plain, piping hot rice.

Have you ever tasted chal kumror bara? If not, cook it in your kitchen. On any summer day, the crispy fried bara with steamed rice and dal feels incredibly tasty like nothing else in this world.

Ash gourds are first stuffed with coconut and mustard filling, then dipped in a besan batter and finally fried in mustard oil.

Do you know that ash gourd pulp is mixed with lentil paste and grounded spices to make bori? It is an interesting use of smashed ash gourd.

Bengalis use bori in many vegetable and fish curries. It brings a distinct crunchy feel to the preparations.

Ash gourd leaves are also consumed. These are used to prepare fritters. These are perfect snacks to relish with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Ash gourd is also very popular in South India. It is extensively used in Karnataka and Kerala. The vegetable is also cooked in Maharashtra. Kuvale Sassam is a south Indian dish.

Ash gourd is its main ingredient. A perfect culinary symphony is created with the help of grated coconut, chillies, mustard seeds, tamarind and curry leaves. Like most south Indian dishes, it is cooked in coconut oil.

Elavan Mulakushyam is another delicious veg preparation that uses ash gourd (elavan). It is mainly prepared in Kerala. The goodness of ash gourd soaks in the subtle flavours of dal.

It is a pretty simple dish that takes a little time to cook. Only fresh, young ash gourd is used as it tastes best. It is usually served with hot rice and a stir fried veg side dish (poriyal or thoran).

The most popular ash gourd dish in Kerala is olan. Truly speaking, it is one of the signature dishes of Kerala cuisines.

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Ash gourd is the queen of this light dish subtly flavoured with black-eyed peas, ginger and coconut milk.

The dish is cooked in coconut oil. It is integral to Sadhya, a feast of traditional vegetable dishes particularly popular to the Malayalis.

In Udipi, a special kind of ash gourd recipe is prepared with coconut. It is a quick fix but offers a wonderful blend of strong aroma from both coconut and roasted spices.

Ash gourds roast – now that sounds interesting, yeh? Very small cubes of ash gourd cooked with chana dal, onion and green chills are flavoured with turmeric powder and curry leaves. For the best taste, make sure to cook it in coconut oil.

Dosa is a popular food in South India. You will be amazed to know that ash gourd is also used to give an interesting twist to traditional dosas and these taste really great.

Ash gourd juice is very healthy and comforting, especially when the mercury is rising. The juice is flavoured with ginger and zeera.

When it comes to ash gourds, how can we forget peetha? Peetha is an iconic sweet dish of Agra. It is one of the most famous traditional sweet dishes in India.

The story behind its invention is as fascinating as the meethai. Mughal king Shah Jahan once asked to create a desert as white and pure as the Taj Mahal.

Thus, peetha was born to satisfy the craving of the Sultan. Though originated in Agra, this sweet dish is extensively made in Karnataka and Kerala.

There are other lesser known Ash gourd dishes. Ash gourd halwa is one such dish popular in North India.

Boiled and strained fresh ash gourd is cooked in dollops of ghee and cooked with cashew nuts, raisins and flavoured with cardamom powder.

A few strands of saffron soaked in lukewarm milk are added for flavour enhancement.

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Is Ash gourd Tasty? 

Ash gourd is fleshy, juicy and tasty. Whether you are preparing a Bong style curry (i.e. ghanto), a south Indian dish or legendary Agra sweet peetha, ash gourd offers an unforgettable subtle, sweet taste in its all avatars.

What Are the Best Recipes of Ash Gourds?

The phrase ‘BEST DISH’ is not a one-fits-all concept; rather should be discussed from a subjective perspective. What you think BEST may not be a favourite of mine and vice versa.

However, some of the most popular ash gourd dishes include chal kumror ghanto (Bengali style ash gourd curry), olan and peetha.

How Many Types of Ash gourd Dishes are There?

There are hundreds of ash gourd dishes in India. You can have Chal kumro with Daal, Chal kumro with Maacher Matha, Peetha, Angoori Peetha, Mixed Veg Kootu, Ash Gourd Chiller, White pumpkin, Peetha Kheer, Delightful Samdesh, Kuvale Sassam, Elavan Mulakushyam.

Questions & Answers:

What Goes Well with Ash gourd?

Plain, steamed rice is the best staple dish to serve with any type of ash gourd curry. You can also serve dal and other simple veg curries as accompaniments. However, rice is a must to serve with it.

What Dishes Can be Made from Boiled Ash gourds?

Boiled ash gourds are used to prepare a variety of dishes such as ghanto, peetha etc. Boiled ash gourd is smashed manually or by a tool before it is used for cooking.

How Do You Know When Ash Gourd is Cooked?

The flesh of the ash gourd is soft. It becomes softer after being properly cooked. If the ash gourd is cut into small chunks, they will look pulpy after being done.

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