Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Garden journal: Indian snake gourds from my kitchen garden

Snake gourds, botanically known as Trichosanthes cucumerina, are snake-like vegetables which make a stunning display hanging from the trellis in any kitchen garden. There are two different types of snake gourd seeds offered by US seed companies. One variety is a large gourd which develops a hard shell as it matures and is simply a different variety of opo squash. The variety that we are discussing here has a waxy skin and tastes more like a cross between a zucchini and cucumber. This particular snake gourd turns into a red mush with brown seeds when it matures. There are different varieties of snake gourds, some green striped long ones and others that are shorter and dark green.
Snake gourds might be something new and exotic for many American gardeners, but they are very popular among vegetarians in south India. It is supposed to be a cooling vegetable long associated with Ayurvedic medicine. It has been a part of my mother's diet for as long as I can remember. You can make stir frys, chutneys and curries with it. I get a lot of compliments from garden visitors when they see my Indian snake gourds. When you want to grow something to wow your garden visitors, think of Indian snake gourd.

Doesn't it look like a real snake sitting on the trellis

For more memorable centerpieces, tablescapes, and recipes (including vegetarian, gluten free and vegan recipes), please check out my books, Entertaining From an Ethnic Indian Kitchen and Trader Joe's Simply Indian at my website komalinunna.com.


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  1. Very cool looking! I have seen the seeds before but these are the best pictures of the plant/fruit I have seen.Really makes one want to try them! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Those are sort of creepy looking, I mean they really could be a snake. I bet when dried out they would be a lot of fun to decorate

  3. I tried to grow these snake gourds last year, but had no luck, the trellis where this vine went up was shared among many other vegetable vines like cucumber, indian broad beans and snake gourd. I did not get to see a female flower at all. If you are still growing these gourds, can you click a pic of the female flower next time and send it to ybinds@gmail.com please. Do you have to hand pollinate the snake gourd female flower as I did that for my bottle gourd flowers.

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