Ash Gourd Winter Melon, the “Cool” Vegetable
Benincasa hispida, the wax gourdnalso called ash gourd,white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, ash pumpkin, winter melon Chinese preserving melon and (Alu) Puhul, is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable when mature.
It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is covered in a fuzzy coating of fine hairs when young. The immature melon has thick white flesh that tastes sweet. By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd. The wax coating helps to give the fruit a long shelf life. The melon may grow as large as 80 cm in length.
Here are some common names:
Wax gourd (denotes one sub-type of ash gourd)
Kushmanda, brihatphala, ghrinavasa, gramyakarkati, karkaru (Sanskrit)
Petha, pethakaddu (Hindi)
Neer poosanikai (Tamil)
Boodida Gummadikaaya (Telugu)
Budekumbalakayi, boodu gumbala (Kannada)
Kumra, chalkumra (Bengali)
It us rich in vitamin C and B-complex vitamins such as niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. Ash gourd is also a valuable source of minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium. The gourd also provides a good amount of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber.