Padwal, as it is known in Maharashtra, is snake gourd, a light green snake-like vegetable with a grey-white bloom on the skin.
It is part of the Cucurbitaceae Family, Cucurbita genus, whose family tree is long and wide, with its roots firmly in India. It is one of the first vegetables known to have grown here and of which mention is made in the earliest Sanskrit texts.
More gourds are shown in the picture above. Beginning with padwal /snakegourd (trichosanthes anguina) and going clockwise the others are pandhara bhopla or doodhi bhopla (M*), lauki (H*)/ bottle gourd, gosale (M) / bath gourd( lufah aegyptiaca) , tondli (M) or tindli (coccinia indica) , kheera /cucumber, turai/ ridgegourd (lufah acutangula), and in the centre are small gourds or parwar (H). (In West Bengal parwar is known as the king of vegetables. It has no Marathi name as it is not commonly cooked here.)
These gourds are used often in South India in avial and sambar. Padwal is common in Maharashtra and Karnataka where it is used to produce a wet or semi dry vegetable dish .
As part of our family comes from Bangalore, we all like the following recipe for Padwal, which, strictly speaking, is a kootu from Karnataka, a variation of which is made in Maharashtra..with less coconut and fewer spices.
- 1/2 kg /1 lb Padwal
- 1/2 tsp haldi/ turmeric powder
- 1/2 cup channa dal
- 1/2 tsp sambhar powder
- 1 tbsp urad dal
- 4 red chillies
- 1/2 tsp dhania /coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp jeera /cuminseeds
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 4 tbsp grated fresh coconut.
Slice the gourd in half and then cut into quarters. Remove the seeds and keep aside to use in a chutney.
1.Cook the channa dal seperately in a pressure cooker with 1 tsp sambar powder till half done. Remove from fire, cool and open the cooker immediately.
2. Cook the padwal /snake gourd with haldi till half done.
3. Dry roast in a cast iron pan, in the order given :
Fry 1 chopped onion till brown and add
- 1 tsp ground fresh Ginger
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 tsp rai / mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs kari patta/ curry leaves
- 1-2 broken red chillies
Fry before adding to the dry ingredients above. Grind all to make a paste.
4. Mix together the cooked dal and ground paste. Add two cups of water and cook for 10 minutes.Then add the padwal, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add 1 tbsp lime juice. Cook for 5 minutes more till both vegetable and lentils are soft and cooked, but not mushy.
5. Last of all add a seasoning /tarka of rai/ mustard seed, urad dal, curry leaves and red chilli
fried in a tsp of oil.
Serve hot garnish with the grated coconut.
Something I find interesting is that in Maharashtra certain sects associate themselves with animals or plants and will do nothing to harm them. Thus people who come from the Padwal sect do NOT eat padwal.
*M- Marathi H- Hindi