5 Indian Gourds And Their Unique Health Benefits

The vast array of seasonal vegetables and fruits is the real wealth of India’s natural landscape. Though they are prized for their ability to thrive in diverse climates, making them readily available throughout the year, they are more widely consumed during the summer months owing to their high water content. 

The Indian summer gourds have terrific nutritional value and are low in calories and rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They are very hydrating and offer a range of health benefits, including aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and supporting immunity. Moreover, they are very versatile and their presence is felt in many regional dishes, especially during festive feasts, and everyday meals. Whether it's the cooling properties of bottle gourd, the crunchiness of ridge gourd, or the bitter-sweet flavour of bitter gourd, each Indian gourd brings its own distinct characteristics to the table. Let’s explore some of the most popular summer gourds in India. 

Bottle Gourd (Lauki/Doodhi)

Bottle gourd, known as Lauki or Doodhi in Hindi, is one of the most commonly consumed gourds in India, particularly during the summer season. It has a really gentle flavour and a high water content, making it incredibly hydrating and ideal for hot weather. It’s quite fleshy and can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes.

Lauki is quite rich in nutrients and it is believed to aid digestion and is often recommended in Ayurveda for its cooling properties, which can help alleviate digestive issues and acidity. From simple stir-fries to light summer curries and even desserts bottle gourd lends itself to a wide range of regional dishes across India.

Ridge Gourd (Turai)

Ridge gourd, known as Turai or Torai in Hindi, is another popular summer gourd in India, prized for its crisp texture and mildly savoury flavour. It is characterized by its elongated shape, ridged exterior, and pale green skin. Ridge gourd is commonly used in Indian cooking to prepare curries and chutneys since they can be blended into many kinds of palates and have a unique crunchy texture.

Turai is low in calories and rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to a balanced diet. It’s also valued for its cooling properties, which help beat the heat during the summer months.

Bitter Gourd (Karela/Karavila)

Perhaps the most widely used gourd, the Indian ‘karela’ is quite prized for its distinctive bitter taste and numerous health benefits. Despite its bitter flavour, bitter gourd is consumed all across the country, in stir-fried and curries.

One of the biggest USPs of bitter gourd is its hypoglycemic properties and it is often recommended for managing blood sugar levels, making it particularly beneficial for anyone with diabetes. It is also valued for its detoxifying properties and is used in traditional medicine to cleanse the liver and purify the blood.

Ash Gourd (Petha/Kumbalanga)

Petha or Kumbalanga is a large, round gourd with smooth, greenish-white skin. Ash gourd is best known for its cooling properties, making it a popular choice during the hot summer months. It is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a nutritious addition to the diet, and it helps that it has a mild sweetness.

Ash gourd can be used in a variety of culinary applications, including savoury dishes like kumbalanga curry and sweets like petha halwa, which highlight its versatility. Ash gourd juice is also quite popular as it’s hydrating and may aid digestion and promote urinary health.

Pointed Gourd (Parwal)

The pointed gourd, known as Parwal is a slender, cylindrical gourd with a pointed tip and greenish skin. It is widely used across all Indian regions, especially in the northern and eastern states. The pointed gourd has a mild, slightly sweet flavour and a tender texture; its tender flesh makes it more versatile as it cooks quickly, making it ideal for stir-fries, curries, and stuffed dishes. Its distinct flavour pairs well with spices, herbs, and other vegetables.

Parwal is low in calories and rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and is also believed to have cooling properties, which can help alleviate heat-related ailments during the summer months.