Sunday, 31 July 2011


The origins of the bottle gourd are uncertain, but they either originated in Asia or Africa, where they can still be found growing wild. They are summer squash and members of the Cucurbitaceae family which includes pumpkins, courgettes, marrows and the ash gourd. We eat the unripe fruit of the plant, as the ripe fruit has a very hard rind and when dried and hollowed can be used to make bowls, dippers for water and decorative items, as well as a huge variety of musical instruments. I spent one summer in south western Turkey painting the ripe ones to make Turkish figures to decorate restaurants and shops. I was amazed when tourists wanted to buy them as I have never thought of myself as an artist!
  These days I content myself with eating kaddu or kaddo as they are called in Pakistan. These are pale green and round, and apparently are good to ease the burning prickly sensation some people have in the soles of their feet. Apparently the best part to use is the part near the stem and you rub this onto your soles to relieve the sensation. You can also use turnips or a henna paste to do the same thing, but henna leaves its orange mark on the feet (and toes).The fruit of this gourd can be dried for later use, for its cooling properties. It is an aid to digestion and has many uses in traditional medicine both in the Indian sub-continent and Africa, as well as other parts of the world where it is cultivated.
  It is one of the oldest cultivated crops and was grown in the Mediterranean in the Bronze Age. The gourds have been put to many uses, such as being made into penis sheaths in Papua New Guinea.
   In traditional medicine in the Indian subcontinent, a glass of the fresh juice of the fresh unripe gourd is mixed with lime juice and drunk to relieve urinary tract infections such as cystitis. The juice is also a thirst quencher and good for diabetics and for those who have consumed too much fatty food. It is also said to prevent fatigue.
  They say that if the juice is mixed with sesame oil and massaged into the scalp at night it will prevent insomnia and ensure a good night’s sleep. The juice has been prescribed for insanity and mental disorders as well as for epilepsy and to help with stomach ulcers and combat acidity in the gut. The juice mixed with ginger and pepper prevents constipation, bleeding and helps combat obesity, so they say. The fruit has a fairly high fibre content so is good for constipation and so for piles.
  The flowers are said to be an antidote for poison, and if you make a poultice with the crushed leaves of the plant and put it on your forehead, this will get rid of a headache. The stem bark and rind of the fruit makes a good diuretic, (personally I’d rather drink sattu or a tukh malanga and gond katira drink or eat a mooli).The fruit is said to be good to remove gravel and stones from the organs, and has cooling properties, and I think this last part is true at least. A poultice of the baked seeds is put on boils to burst them and then get rid of them, and it is good for diabetes. The seeds are used to remove internal worms, and the pulp around the seeds is used for its purgative properties.
  Some people eat the tender young shoots and leaves from the plant as a vegetable, and the leaves can be chopped and used to flavour soups and stews. The seeds yield pale yellow transparent oil which can be used in cooking and which like laverbread and spinach contains iodine.
  The fruit is rich in the B-complex vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, as well as vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid and bioflavonoids. It has antioxidant properties and so can help prevent cell damage from free radicals which can cause cancer. The fruit also contains 13 amino acids, including glutamic acid and the minerals calcium, phosphorous, iron, sodium and potassium.
  Modern medical research suggests that an extract from the bottle gourd can help with cases of Obsessive–Compulsive-Disorder, although more tests are needed. It has pain-killing properties and antiviral ones, as well as being a possible cancer preventative. It is a diuretic and has anti-inflammatory properties too. It may also protect the liver and regulate the immune system, so it is a very beneficial fruit to add to your diet. Why not try the recipe below?
  You need to scrape the outer skin from the fruit rather than peel it so that it retains its nutrients.

½ kg beef, cubed
½ kg kaddo
1 onion, sliced
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 handful fresh coriander leaves, shredded 
6 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp chilli powder
salt to taste
6 whole black peppercorns
1 cup oil

Scrape the kaddo and cut into cubes then put it into water until ready to use.
Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the garlic, cumin seeds and ginger and fry for 1 min.
Put in the meat and seal on all sides (3-4 mins).
Add the onion and fry for 2 mins and then add the tomatoes and green chillies and fry for 2 to 3 mins.
Add 2 glasses of water with all the spices and stir well.
Cover the pot and cook over a medium heat for about ½ hour.
Put the drained kaddo in the pan and stir to mix. Keep stirring for 5 mins.
Add 2 more glasses of water and stir the mixture well, then cover and cook over a low heat for a further ½ hour.
Remove from the heat and add the coriander leaves, and stir them into the mixture.
Leave to stand for 10 mins and then serve with breads (roti or naan).
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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