Worms and Flowers

Ridgegourd Luffa acutangula

Posted in Vegetables by Lzyjo on December 25, 2008

Luffa Acutangula (a-kew-TAN-gu-luh)
Ridged gourd, also known as Chinese okra, turai in Hindi and Beerekaya in Telugu.
This vegetable is a member of the curcurbit family and a relative of the smooth Egyptian luffa, Luffa aegyptiaca, which is used to make sponges when mature. The name acutangula comes from two Latin words, Acutus and Angulus, which literally translate to sharply angled. The outer texture is firm and rough. The ten ridges that run along the length of the fruit are sharp, becoming thicker and wider as they mature. Once the fibrous peel is removed, the vegetable is much different. Ridge gourds feel quite light-weight, almost hollow, but are filled with a light-density white flesh that almost looks fine grain foam rubber. The flavor and texture has been compared to zucchini or summer squash, but with more of a cucumber-like crunchiness. Ridgegourd has a very high water content that makes it a very low calorie vegetable, with only 15 Calories per 3.5 oz serving. It is also high in fiber, vitamin C, riboflavin, zinc, thiamin, iron, magnesium and manganese. And best of all, it grows like a weed, even on a collapsed trellis.

ridgegourd, luffa acutangula

It was last Winter when I first became determined to grow ridge gourd to make all of the wonderful Indian recipes I had been reading about. I didn’t expect to harvest any fruits in the pile of what is left of my trellis, but I was delighted to see these guys hanging down from the vines last week. The hardest part was choosing which recipes to try, because there are so many that sound and look so good. I ended up making a beerakaya kura, an Indian gravy type stew, with a chutney made from the peels. The ridge gourd peel chutney was especially delicious, the nutty flavor of the peels combined with the roasted dry red chilis, goes wonderfully with rice.

This is one weird vegetable, not to be judged by its looks.

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