Just to clarify at the beginning, this post is not about a snake dish but more precisely about an Asian gourd type that kind of looks like a snake. Ha, got you! Hope I didn’t freak you out with the title. We know this humble local gourd as the snake gourd, a green long hanging fruit bearing vine plant, decorated with white stripes. Commonly found in Asia, it resembles the Ridge Gourd (Luffa) in many ways. While Ridge gourd is more spongy and watery, the Snake gourd has a more solid texture and in my opinion it’s a tiny bit more bitter. The skin is not that thick compared to the Ridge Gourd and it can grow up to 1 1/2 meters long. Yes it’s an unusual looking vegetable and if seen hanging you would be surprised by the snake gourd’s growing habits. The gourd grows from a beautiful pollinated white lace like flower, the the fruit has a tendency to curl up which makes it look even more like a serpent (painted Snake Gourd Art).
In Goa, the whiteish soft skinned Snake Gourd is commonly used in bhajis (spiced vegetable side dishes) and it’s for sure one of the cheaper vegetables in the market. Yet the Ridge gourd tends to be more easily available compared to the snake gourd. If you are in Goa then you can buy it in the Mapusa Market or in any other local city markets in India & Asia or if you live in one of the Western countries then you might be able to buy the Snake gourd in a specialized Asian market. Here in India it’s mostly known under many different names. The local vendors in Goa usually know it simply as Snake Gourd. Some other names for the Snake Gourd are serpent gourd, chichinga and padwal in India.
A week before the Hindu Ganesh festival, I ventured to the nearest city market to keep an eye out for seasonal lesser common vegetables and fruits such as the Hog Plum, Elephant root, Soursop and Air Potato. I got some Hog plums for a curry but left out the elephant root, soursop and air potato. I was aiming to buy a Soursop, but the lady was selling 1 tiny fruit for 500 INR ( 8 USD!!) so I left that and turned my attention towards a healthy firm batch of Snake Gourds. I stopped the vendor before she was about to break it into 2 pieces (it’s really long), just so that I could make some pictures to show you what it looks like.
It tastes a bit bitter but you don’t really notice it compared to the Bitter Melon (Karela). In fact the flavor might remind you of Zucchini and Cucumbers.The flesh texture is similar to a white long pumpkin, the skin however is unusually waxy. It’s easy to prepare the snake gourd for cooking, peel and cut it and that’s it. The seeds are soft and you don’t notice them while enjoying the snake gourd in a dish which is another plus point. So how does it come that this wondrous good sounding vegetable hasn’t been commonly sold in the western countries yet? Well, apparently it requires warmer nights, so European conditions for example are not favored at all. Therefore it is barely known in the western world.
I was eager to finally get to share another Goan dish, a Snake Gourd bhaji. The spices enhance the flavor of the gourd in such a natural and completing manner that it turned into one of my favorite bhaji sides with fish curry and rice. My husband isn’t that much of a fan of this gourd, he prefers his beloved Red Spinach bhaji, which in turn I don’t enjoy. Well, don’t be influenced by my husband’s taste preferences and try it out for yourself.
So, are you one of the lucky ones, who had a chance to eat a dish cooked with snake gourds? Let us know your favorite snake gourd dish in a comment at the bottom of this page.
- 300 grams Snake Gourd
- 1 Onion
- 1 Tomato
- 1 Green Chili
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- ½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- pinch Salt
- pinch Pepper
- pinch Cumin Powder
- pinch Coriander Seed Powder
- freshly grated Coconut
- Cut your snake gourd into half and rinse it. Peel it and cut each piece lengthwise into half then cut into thicker slices. We need 300 grams of the snake gourd, Store the rest in the fridge for later use.
- Peel your onion quarter and slice. Cut your tomato too into pieces and just chop your green chili
- In a pot heat up the oil and add the onion first, fry translucent on a slow to medium flame. Add in the Tomato, Snake Gourd pieces and Green Chili and stir fry. Cook all that for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetable liquids appear in the pot. Add in as well the spices, turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin powder and coriander seed powder and stir.
- Cover the vegetables with water. Stir and let it cook on a slow to medium flame for about 8-10 minutes or until the water has reduced completely and the gourd has cooked.
- Discard Chili before serving and top with freshly grated coconut flakes.
Some more useful Snake Gourd related articles:
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