Cooking cucuzzi gourds

Cuccuzi
Sorakaya Sanagabedala Kura made with edible gourd and yellow split peas

 

Well, I cooked up some cucuzzi edible gourd this weekend using a recipe for Sorakaya Sanagabedala Kura at Mahanandi. Despite reports from various sources (here, here, and here, for example) this gourd was not poisonous and tasted very good without a hint of bitterness. I tasted the gourd both before and after cooking and it was fine.

The bitter taste in the cucuzzi gourd (also known as bottle gourd, dudhi, and lauki) which makes it non-edible and potentially dangerous is from a chemical called cucurbitacin. There are many forms of cucurbitacins and they are common in all members of the squash family. Cultivated edible squash, melons, gourds, and cucumbers have low levels of these compounds but occasionally a plant may produce an over abundance of cucurbitacin making it poisonous if eaten. Soil infertility, drought, insect or disease pests, and genetics where the normally recessive gene that suppresses cucurbitacin expression is over-ridden are suspected causes for the excessive production of cucurbitacins that are normally scarce in edible fruits.

So back to cooking this harmless gourd. I cut down three huge gourds from the vines. After slicing them open I was happy to find that the insides were still very soft and tasted rather bland. Next, I cut the gourds into manageable pieces, peeled off the skins with a potato peeler, scooped out the seed cavity, and cut the gourd into half-inch sized chunks. I followed the recipe at Mahanandi, which is very spicy. I had to make a few modifications subbing garlic for asafoetida and dark brown sugar for jaggary. I used my own red pepper which is not a chili and even hotter. When everything was cooked there was about a pint and a half of gourd and peas in thin but very warm sauce. It was all very good and I will certainly be making more this week and will grow this fascinating plant again next year.

 

Edible gourds
Edible gourds

9 thoughts on “Cooking cucuzzi gourds

    1. Probably unlikely it will and you’d know by the taste immediately as it is extremely bitter. I read a number of reports and articles about this and was left wondering with all the squash, gourds, melons and cucumbers I grow why I never had any bitter ones.

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        1. Until this year I had never hear of this. The main problem was with the bottle gourd where people juiced several of them so concentrating the toxin and then drinking it. Even that is a rare occurrence as people eat this every day and experience no problems. The same goes for the other squash species grown for food.

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            1. Some had fatal results others were had to be hospitalized. But these are cases where all the chemical components were concentrated in the juice. The juice was also extremely bitter which should have been a warning right there.

              This gourd and other squashes have been cultivated and eaten by humans for several thousand years. A person could probably get sick if they juiced a few dozen eggplants and drank that, too.

              I’d never heard of this toxic reaction until this year. Also, I eat squash just about every day either plain or as an ingredient in foods. I grow most of my squash from my seeds (something we are now told not to do for reasons I find ridiculous). Not once have I ever had one that was bitter and not once have I ever gotten sick from them.

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              1. I’m not personally concerned! I doubt very much I could ever be at risk, considering how little I eat of such vegetables. My daughter will eat a cucumber all in one go but then again it is the whole vegetable and there is no way she would anything bitter.

                I will certainly continue to grow from seeds, too 😊.

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                1. I have no worries either and I think that the huge number of articles on the web about toxic squashes is another example of fretting over a very rare event. Squash were cultivated along with beans and maize by Native Americans and constituted the pillars of their diet. I think they knew what they were doing.

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