Bengali Narkel Diye Chalkumro: A Late Winter Vegetarian Recipe
Image Credit: Narkel Diye Chalkumro Torkari is a simple Bengali vegetarian dish. Image courtesy: Facebook/Sampa Saha

There are some Bengali recipes which are simply perfect for that weird transition between winter and spring. Narkel Diye Chalkumro Torkari or Ash Gourd Coconut Curry is definitely one of them. Ash gourd, like other gourd varieties, is grown on a tender vine. The veggie is usually large and either shaped like tube or (more commonly) like a perfect sphere. Also known as wax gourd and Chinese watermelon, the vegetable is used across East Indian states and also plays a role in Chinese cooking. 

So, what makes this round veggie perfect for late winters? It’s not just that they are great for your health. Packed with water, dietary fibre, and some minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, potassium and zinc, Ash Gourd is also full of antioxidants. Combined together, these components do boost your immunity when the seasons are transitioning from winter to spring. 

Moreover, ash gourd has a neutral taste—which makes it a perfect carrier for other flavours. Enter the simplicity of Narkel Diye Chalkumro Torkari. This niramish or vegetarian Bengali dish is so light on the palate that it’s perfect for your late winter lunch or dinner, especially when paired with rice. Cooked with the mildest of spices, milk and grated coconut, the dish is easy to digest and can help your gut stay healthy during season change. What’s more, the dish is quite flavourful despite its simplicity, because the panch phoran tempering, ash gourd and coconut create a beautiful medley of light yet sweet-salty flavours. 

Ash Gourd is in season now, and will remain so throughout summer. Given that this vegetarian Bengali dish of Narkel Diye Chalkumro Torkari is perfect for late winter, spring and summer, you should definitely try it out in the coming months, if not today. Here’s an added benefit: The dish literally takes 10-15 minutes to cook up! Isn’t such a short and flavourful recipe just the thing you need on any given day for a quick meal? Of course, it is! Check out the recipe. 


2 cups ash gourd, finely sliced 

¼ cup grated coconut 

¼ tsp panch phoran 

1 dry red chilli 

1 green chilli, slit 

Salt, to taste 

½ tsp sugar 

2 tbsp milk 

1 tbsp oil 

½ tsp ghee 


1. Heat the oil in a wok, then add the panch phoran and dry red chilli. 

2. Add the sliced ash gourd and stir.  

3. Add the green chilli and salt, and cover the wok. Let the ash gourd cook for 5 minutes. All the water from the veggie will be released during this process. 

4. Uncover the wok and add the coconut. Cover and cook again for 5 minutes. 

5. Once the water has reduced a bit and the ash gourd is almost cooked, stir in the milk and sugar. Cover and cook again for 2-3 minutes or until the curry dries out. 

6. Switch off the flame, mix in the ghee and serve hot with rice and dal.