You may know ash gourd by other names like white gourd, winter melon, white pumpkin and more regionally as ‘petha’ in India. Here, I’m sharing one of my most favorite ash gourd recipes, the Ash Gourd Thoran – a special from the cuisine of Kerala in South India. It is simply a dry flavorful dish which has no garlic, is vegan and naturally gluten-free. Quite a nutritious pick, I would say.
As mentioned at the beginning, a thoran is a quick, easy preparation that is made by stir frying or sautéing vegetables with a few spices, curry leaves, primarily in coconut oil and is finished with a heap of freshly grated coconut. Traditionally, a thoran is made sans onion and garlic. However, I have added onion to this Ash Gourd Thoran.
The Ash Gourd (called Kumbalanga in Malayalam) is one of the many underestimated vegetables that is available in India and there are not many ash gourd recipes that people are fond of. But trust me, the moment you give this Ash Gourd Thoran a try, it will be an instant hit for your taste buds.
Because sometimes the palate is craving for something super simple, soothing and just comforting at all levels. This is one of those ash gourd recipes which ticks all these requirements and does justice to the mindful way of eating.
Make thoran with different vegetables to get Beans Thoran and Cabbage Thoran. It is also made with carrots and even greens like spinach and plantain peels. Apart from this Ash Gourd Thoran, the Beetroot Thoran is another personal favorite which you must try as well.
This dish is also a part of the Onam feast ‘sadya’ and is commonly consumed with a rice-dal or rice-curry combination.
More on Ash Gourd Thoran
It is easier to make many ash gourd recipes if you are in South India or even Western India like in Maharashtra and Gujarat. As compared to Northern India, where it may be available, but is mainly used to make a typical sweet with its namesake. The sweet ‘petha’ is made with white pumpkin or ash gourd and is famous in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
I remember my mother using this vegetable to make ash gourd recipes like that of a sambar and an ‘upkari.’ This Ash Gourd Thoran too is one from her recipe collection. Avial is another well-known Kerala preparation with kumbalanga or ash gourd.
This Ash Gourd recipe is an easy and can be cooked within minutes. Ash gourd has a texture similar to bottle gourd (lauki), but has a distinct taste of its own. So, ash gourd recipes will always taste different than the rest.
You can also have a look at this sweet halwa from South India, called Kashi Halwa which has ash gourd as the hero ingredient.
You can prepare this Ash Gourd Thoran by adding both onion and garlic, or none. Green chilies can be added according to the level of spiciness you wish to have. The spices are all basic and available most of the times in an Indian home kitchen.
Authentic ash gourd recipes like these should be made in coconut oil, as far as possible. However, if you have an aversion to this particular oil, go for other vegetable oil. Adding the grated coconut at the end also enhances the flavor. So, try not to skip it.
Serve this Kumbalanga Thoran with dal-rice, sambar-rice or have it with chapati; the choice is completely yours.
How make Ash Gourd Thoran
1. Rinse 200 grams ash gourd. Peel it first. Cut into halves or quarter it. Remove the seeds. Later chop into 1 inch pieces or cubes.
2. Measure all the spices, chop the onion and green chili. Also, keep the grated coconut ready for the thoran.
Make Ash Gourd Thoran
3. In a pan, heat 1 to 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil. Add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.
4. Let the mustard seeds crackle.
5. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
6. When the cumin seeds sizzle in the hot oil, add 1 medium size chopped onion or about ⅓ cup chopped onions or shallots or pearl onions.
7. Fry the onions till translucent on medium-low heat.
8. Add 12 to 15 curry leaves and 1 finely chopped green chilli (about ½ teaspoon chopped).
9. Sauté for a few seconds.
10. Now, add the chopped ash gourd.
11. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.
12. Mix well and sauté the vegetable for a minute.
13. Cover the pan and let the ash gourd cook in its own juices.
14. Keep checking at intervals of 2 to 3 minutes. If the ash gourd appears dry, then add some water. Some ash gourd may require water while cooking.
Some ash gourd may not require water while cooking. It depends on the quality and size of the ash gourd, so add water if required.
15. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes or till the ash gourd is almost done. Again, the timing will vary as per the quality of ash gourd, pan thickness and heat.
16. Once the ash gourd is almost cooked, add ½ cup fresh grated coconut.
17. Mix the coconut well with the vegetable.
18. Add salt as required.
19. Cook covered for a couple of minutes.
20. Serve Ash Gourd Thoran as a side dish or with dal-rice or sambar-rice. You can also have it with chapati.
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Ash Gourd Recipe | Ash Gourd Thoran
This Ash Gourd Recipe is a dish from the Kerala Cuisine called Ash Gourd Thoran. It is simply ash gourd cooked in coconut oil with onions, spices, herbs and finished with coconut.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Rinse the ash gourd. Peel and later chop the ash gourd and keep them ready with the chopped onions and green chili. Remove the seeds from the ash gourd.
In a pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the cumin seeds.
When the cumin seeds sizzle in the hot oil add the onions. Fry the onions till transparent on medium-low heat.
Add the curry leaves and green chilli. Fry for a few seconds.
Now add the ash gourd.
Add the turmeric powder and saute for a minute.
- Cover the pan and let the ash gourd cook in its own juices. Do not add water as ash gourd has enough water in it. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes till the ash gourd is almost done. Then add the grated coconut.
Mix the coconut well with the veggie. Add salt and cook covered for a couple of minutes.
Serve ash gourd thoran as a side dish or with dal and rice or sambar and rice. You can also have this dish with chapati.
- Try to make this dish in coconut oil for the authentic flavor and taste. If you do not prefer coconut oil, then use any neutral flavored oil.
- Instead of green chilies, you can use dried red chillies or both. Remove the seeds from the dried red chillies.
- Make sure the white pumpkin is fresh and in season.
- While cooking, if the pumpkin starts sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. Mix well and continue to cook.
- Feel free to add less or more of the fresh grated coconut as needed. Frozen grated coconut can be added instead of fresh coconut.
- Scale the recipe to make for more servings.
Ash Gourd Recipe | Ash Gourd Thoran
Amount Per Serving
Calories 133 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Vitamin A 30IU1%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.1mg7%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.01mg1%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 8mg40%
Vitamin B6 0.04mg2%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Vitamin E 0.1mg1%
Vitamin K 0.2µg0%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 88µg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Ash Gourd Recipe post from the blog archives first published in March 2011 has been republished and updated on 6 August 2022.