The ash gourd (Benincasa hispidia) is called petha in Urdu and is also known in English as wax gourd, white gourd and Chinese preserving gourd. It is sometimes called the winter melon or white melon. It is native to tropical Asia and Africa, although it grows in other parts of the world including Polynesia.
   The ash gourd has been used since ancient times as a medical plant and a vegetable, although it is also the main ingredient of a sweet which we give the recipe for below.
   In traditional Asian medicine it has a number of uses and is good for diabetics as it is low in calories and a diuretic and detoxifier. The juice is the part primarily used in medicine and this has traditionally been taken from old ash gourds. If you grate the flesh of one of these gourds and collect the water that exudes from it, and then squeeze the flesh, you should add an equal amount of water and drink this on an empty stomach every morning three hours before you eat anything to get rid of peptic ulcers. The juice also gets rid of intestinal parasites and will increase tissue growth especially if you mix it with coconut milk. It’s good for the digestion too and cures constipation. If you mix the juice with a teaspoon of gooseberry juice or lime juice and take it in small sips rather than gulping down, it stops bleeding in the lungs and will stop blood being emitted in urine.
    The juice can also be an effective mouth wash, and gargle, helping to sooth mouth ulcers, gingivitis (bleeding gums) and will protect the teeth and gums from bacteria.
     In Ayurvedic medicine it is used to banish sleeplessness, to help with epilepsy, asthma and lung diseases, as well as a diuretic to prevent urine retention, and to stop internal haemorrhages. Apparently it is good for coughs, colds, sinusitis, and flu and it is not reported to have any side effects. It can help lower cholesterol levels and is effective in treating Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate enlargement. For this you should boil 50 gr of chopped seeds in 250 ml of water for 30 minutes, strain and drink 50 ml (small sips) three times a day for a week. The inflammation will be reduced in 2 days and should have disappeared after a week.
   It is rich in dietary fibre, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and contains magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6 and folate. It also contains the essential amino acids, tryptophan, lysine and methionine. It also contains fatty acids and traces of selenium. It has been found that the seed has anti-angiogenesis properties, which means that there is a substance in them which can stop the growth of tumours and the progression of cancers by limiting the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
  So the ash gourd is good for our health and tastes good too. It can be used in vegetable dishes, and in preserves and pickles. Below is a famous dessert recipe.

1 kg ash gourd, skin and seeds removed and flesh cut into cubes
750 gr sugar
1 tsp alum powder
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and crushed
1 stick of cinnamon
30 gr chopped pistachio nuts
30 gr desiccated coconut

Prick the cubes of the ash gourd flesh with a fork, put in a pan and cover with water (just).
Add the alum powder and boil for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and wash under running water.
Now put the cup of water in a pan with the sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved; add the lemon juice and cardamoms.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the boiled ash gourd cubes. Cook until they are soft and the syrup hangs off a spoon leaving three strands when raised from the pan.
Remove from the heat, remove the petha and place them separately on a plate or tray so that they don’t stick together.
Allow to cool then sprinkle with the garnishes and serve.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


  1. Why do you need to add alum powder? Can u make the recipe without it?

  2. taking ash gourd juice empty stomach is really effective

  3. thanks best site on Petha.

  4. Safed Petha is good for brain shrpener,memory and nervous system also.It is also amedicine for impotency as per naturopathy.