The humble ridge gourd is know by many names across India – Tori, Turai, Toru, Peerkankai, Heere Kayi, Peere Kai, Beere kai, Gosale, Jhinga, Jhingey and I bet there are several more! Its a simple vegetable, rarely given too much thought, and mostly used as an accompanying side dish on an average day. Funnily, despite being neutral in flavor, ridge-gourd makes it to the ‘veggies to detest’ list for quite a few people. I’m guessing this is down to the texture, because the veggie itself, easily takes on the taste of seasonings and spices that one chooses to dress it with!
Why should you eat ridge gourd though? Because its a nutrition powerhouse! Its packed with vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, iron, magnesium and essential amino acids. It’s great at regulating insulin(lowers blood sugar), remedies anemia, aids in liver function, is a great source of dietary fiber, and has anti-inflammatory properties!1 Phew!! So how then, do you make this easily accessible (in South Asia) vegetable into a tasty side? Well, there’s two key steps:
- Getting the texture right. Instead of peeling the gourd entirely, keep some of the outer dark green skin on. I’d say peel it to about 80%. This gives you a textural contrast, a bit of crunch (yes, crunch!) along with the soft flesh. Bonus: the outer skin is where you get that all important dietary fibre from!
- The seasoning; since this veggie doesn’t taste too much like anything, make sure to use a flavourful mix of spices and seasonings. Relying on the veggie alone isn’t going to produce anything that makes your palate go wow!!
Here a quick, 20 minute recipe that transforms ridge gourd into a super tasty side! Its sweet, spicy and incredibly fresh!
Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Ridge Gourd
- Kadai / Wok / Frying Pan
- 2 medium sized Ridge Gourd
- 2 tbs Oil
- ½ tsp Mustard
- 1 tsp Channa Dal (Split Bengal Gram)
- 1 tsp Urad Dal (Split Black Lentils)
- ¼ tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
- 8 – 10 Curry Leaves
- 2 Green Chillies [slit]
- 1 tsp Chilli Powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1½ tsp Powdered Jaggery
- ½ Lime
- Wash the ridge gourd and peel them about 80%, making sure to retain some of the dark green outer skin. Chop into 1" sized pieces.
- Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, lower the heat to minimum and add the channa and urad dals. Roast on low heat until they begin to give off a nutty aroma and change colour slightly.
- Add the green chilies and curry leaves to the pan and sauté for 10 – 20 seconds. Next, add the asafoetida and allow it to cook for 10 seconds.
- Add the chopped ridge gourd to the pan and sauté for a minute before adding salt. Continue to stir fry for another 3 – 4 minutes
- Add the turmeric and chilli powder to the ridge gourd and stir until well combined. Continue to cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, until the vegetable has softened but not lost the crunch from the dark green parts.
- Make a well in the middle of the pan and add the jaggery; allow it to rest there for a few seconds until it melts. Stir the melted jaggery into the vegetable until its well combined and turn the heat off.
- Finish with a good squeeze of lime and stir once again. Serve hot, preferably with your favorite dal and rice.
1 Source: Characterization of nutrients, amino acids, polyphenols and antioxidant activity of Ridge gourd (Luffa acutangula) peel
As always, let me know in the comments below if you have any questions, or feedback. Here’s hoping you’ll pick up a ridge gourd the next time you see it at your local market / grocery store! 😃