Try out these tasty snacks by Aparna Parinam and find some authentic Asian flavor from a wax gourd. Used in Indian cuisine, these delicious fritters will melt in your mouth.
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Last week, my mother-in-law mentioned to me that, one can make tasty fritters with ash gourd, known as ‘pacchi vadiyalu. Hmm, I thought to myself and exclaimed, I saw it at the local grocer’s shop, just a few days ago. But was wondering what we would do with such a large fruit. Like me, she also is very much interested in trying out traditional recipes. And asked me to check whether I could buy one. So I was now, really keen on getting my hold of this particular fruit.
I went to the local vegetable shop and luckily, it was still there – as if waiting for me. The owner of the shop, a quiet and helpful lady, Prabhodhini, was very courteous and told me to first check whether the fruit was good or not. And asked me to pay only if the ash gourd was good. So armed with this ‘bounty’ I went home. My mother in law was very glad to see it.
When I mentioned this ‘ash gourd’ episode to my mom, she too was very happy and wanted it, to make ‘vadiyalu’ and sun dry them. So I decided to keep half of this ‘gourd’ and give my mother the other half. So this way both my culinary gurus are happy: my mother and mother-in-law.
What is ‘ash gourd’?
Native to South East Asia, it is a large pumpkin like fruit, which is eaten as a vegetable, when mature. This highly nutritious melon may grow as large as 80 cm in length. Hmm, indeed a huge fruit! It is cut in wedges and sold in vegetable markets especially in South India. We do not find this fruit, often in Goa.
So that afternoon, I set about making ‘boodida gummidakaygarilu’. This was my first experience in making this dish. These fritters or vadiyalu are made with diced ash gourd pieces and soaked black gram, ground with green chilies and salt. A simple and easy to prepare the dish.
Once I made these fritters, with bated breath, I waited to hear the comments from my daughter and mother in law. They loved it. When I tasted it, I too immediately liked it!
The ash gourd pieces seem to blend smoothly along with the spiced dal batter. With each bite, these fritters simply dissolved in my mouth. You have to taste it to believe it!
What’s in a name?
Ash gourd is also known as winter melon, white gourd, winter gourd, large fuzzy melon, tallow gourd or wax gourd, Chinese preserving melon or Chinese watermelon. It is known as Boodida Gummadikaya in Telugu and Neer Poosanikai in Tamil. It is known as Kuvaddo in Konkani, Petha or Pethakaddu in Hindi, Komora in Assamese, Boodagumbala is Kannada, Kohla in Marathi and Kumbalanga in Malayalam.
The various names for this vegetable in some of the Asian countries are:
- China: dong gua, dong gwa, tung kwa
- Indonesia: beligo, bleego, bleegoo, bligo, koondoor, tangkue
- Japan: kamo uri, togan
- Korea: ho bak
- Malaysia: kundur
- Philippines: kondol, kundol
- Sri Lanka: alu-puhul
- Thailand: fak khiao, fak kib, phat
- Vietnam: bi bee, bi chanh
- Reference: http://www.kitazawaseed.com/
Why is it known as wax gourd?
The immature melon has a thick white flesh, which is sweet when eaten. The mature fruit loses its hair and sweetness. Now, it develops a waxy outer coating, which provides a long shelf life to this gourd. Thus this melon remains good, off the vine for a long time and can be stored for many months.
The ash gourds of the Indian subcontinent have a white coating with a rough texture. And the South East Asian varieties have a smooth waxy texture.
Use in Indian cuisine:
In Andhra Pradesh, this gourd is used to prepare ‘vadiyalu’, which are again two types. Pacchivadiyalu or raw fritters, which are deep fried in oil and relished as fritters. And vadiyalu, are the sun dried fritters, which can be stored for many months. Whenever required, these can be fried in oil and savored with rice.
In South India, this gourd is used to make curries and halwa, a sweet dish.
Petha is a famous specialty of Agra, it is popular sweet candy is made from ash gourd.
Did you know?
In South EastAsia, this ash gourd is sweetened with caramelized sugar and bottled as a drink, known as winter melon punch or “melon tea.”
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Recipe for Ash gourd fritters or Boodida gummadikaya ‘pacchi vadiyalu’
- 2-gram cups split blackdal, or urad dal soaked for 4-5 hours
- 1 and 1/2 cup finely chopped ash gourd
- 3-4 green chilies
- A pinch of edible sodium-bi-carbonate baking soda
- Oil for frying.
- Salt as per taste
- Soak the split black gram dal in water for 4-5 hours. Drain the water and grind the soaked dal along with green chilies to a fine paste. Ensure that you use a minimal amount of water to make a thick batter.
- Transfer the batter to a bowl and add the diced ash gourd pieces. Add salt and a pinch of baking soda. Mix well.
- Heat a small pan, pour oil for frying. Once the oil is heated, keep on medium flame.
- Apply little water to your palm. Now take a morsel of this batter and pat it into a round shape on the moistened palm. Drop this into hot oil, slowly. Take care not to touch the hot pan.
- Fry the ‘vadas’ until they turn golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on tissue paper. Serve hot either plain or with any chutney of your choice.
Tell us some of your favorite authentic cuisines!
Cooking is devotion – this is my mantra! I am a pharmacist by profession and live in Margoa, Goa, India. I am also a tireless vegetarian food and travel lover. Aparna believes in making traditional dishes and preserving the recipes.
Through my blog, Tangy Tales, I endeavor to share healthy vegetarian recipes with my readers. As I continue my culinary journey, I would like to share my experiences with varied food items which I have used in my cooking. I hope my blog readers will find it helpful to them at some point in time.
I would also like to share with you the history of various dishes, local