According to Wikipedia, Ash Gourd goes by quite a few names. Among the many, some common names include winter melon, wax melon, vellai poosani kai in Tamil and petha in Hindi. Just like its myriad names—this melon features many in cuisines in India and the many other Asian countries—it comes with the good stuff in the nutrition department including fibre and vitamins.
Ash Gourd & Good Vibes
I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised on a healthy dose of poosani kai – both in edible and non-edible forms. To give you some context, in many South Indian homes, it is considered an auspicious vegetable; it even features in weddings and traditional housewarming ceremonies. If you’re not familiar with Indian culture, you may find this interesting; it is a common sight to see the vegetable hanging outside new homes or smashed with kumkumam outside homes to ward off evil.
Here is a funny story: I remember a couple of large ash gourds my father gave as gifts my in-laws, my husband and I along with packed meals upon my wedding festivities coming to an end. Turns out, it is an age-old tradition in may Tamil families.
Naturally, it piqued my curiosity. A senior family member put my curiosity to rest.
She said that in those days weddings were organised in different towns or remote locations; usually the brides’ native town was a preferred and convenient arrangement. So, the groom’s family with the new bride in tow, upon returning to their homes may not have access to fresh vegetables to cook and serve. Those were the days when it wasn’t as convenient as it is now to order food in or eat in restaurants. Enter, Ash Gourd! Thanks to the long shelf life of the vegetable, it made a quick and healthy meal after the wedding feast. Fascinating, hey?
Do I think the vegetable wards off evil? I am not entirely convinced. However, I quite appreciate the nutrition and taste aspects of ash gourd.
Ash Gourd for Weight Loss?
When I am in India for a holiday, my father always makes me a nice tall glass of Ash Gourd Juice often to keep the tummy healthy, the body cool in tropical weather and as a general refresher.
That brings me to one important aspect. Ash Gourd Juice is touted as a weight loss drink because of its low-calorie profile; a little Google research tells me that about 100g raw ash gourd is about 13 calories.
I don’t endorse it as a weight loss drink in way or form even though I drank this often during my weight loss journey. I am 100% convinced it did nothing for my weight loss. Nothing outweighs a well-balanced meal in conjunction with an active lifestyle. So, add this Ash Gourd Juice and also enjoy the nutritious foods to keep you healthy inside and out.
You’ve never tasted the vegetable? Firstly, you’re missing out! In case you’re wondering what is tastes like, it doesn’t have a distinct flavour. I would even say it tastes quite similar to cucumber. Much like cucumber, it is It’s delicious and has a lot of water content.
Since it doesn’t have a strong flavour, ash gourd makes a versatile ingredient for both savoury and sweet dishes. Might I add, it tastes excellent whichever way you choose to have it!
This recipe for Ash Gourd Juice is from my father. I’ve loved this juice a long time and so does my my sister. It is easy to whip up and makes an especially lovely drink during warmer months to keep you cool. The best part of the recipe is it doesn’t contain any added sugar or sweeteners yet, it tastes sensational.
Note*: Check variants of Ash Gourd Juice below the recipe to add variety when you consume it.
Here are some suggestions for some healthy drinks:
- Ash gourd/vellai poosanika/petha – 250 to 300g
- Salt/ pink salt/ kala namak – 1 tsp.
- Black pepper – 2 to 3 tsp.
- Lemon juice – use 1 whole lemon if using a small one or ½ in case of a large one
- Water – 600ml to yield two glasses or as required
- Remove the skin and seeds from the required quantity of ash gourd.
- Cut them into large chunks.
- Blend all the ingredients well smooth.
- Finally, check the salt and pepper quantities before serving.
- At this stage, you could optionally add honey or sugar and give it a quick blitz.
- Serve chilled.
*Variation of Ash Gourd Juice
- You could blend a few chunks of peeled cucumber or deseeded honeydew melon/ cantaloupe/watermelon for that fruity flavour without any added sugar.
- Add a few mint sprigs before serving to give the drink a hint of freshness.
- Blend with a tablespoon or two of yoghurt to make a delicious and nutritious buttermilk.