Snake Gourd Sabji (Padwal Sabzi)

snake gourd
Copyright: yotrak

Snake gourd is not often grown in the United Kingdom but is commonly found in the hotter parts of India. The alternative word for the snake gourd is the chichinda. It has a high fibre content and when cooked makes a very tender paste. Use the softest ones – these should break in half quite easily.  Avoid the aged ones as the gourd is leathery and too tough to cook. Gourds are often bland in flavour – rather like marrow but when mixed with spices like these, then it is superb.

Preparing The Snake Gourd

To prepare the snake gourd, take a sharp knife and and clean away any white parts to leave the green underneath. Slice the gourd down the stem into half pieces. With a spoon or just a finger, remove the inner white fluffy part and discard. Cut the gourd further into long slices as you would spring onions. Finely, cut this all into cubes. Add these to a bowl of tepid water and leave to soak in.


  • 1/2 cup chana dal (yellow split chickpea lentils)
  • 500g snake gourd – chopped into cubes
  • 4 tablespoon cooking oil – sunflower, maize/canola
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds 
  • 4 green chillies – chopped into pieces
  •  1 sprig of curry leaves 
  • a dry red chilli – broken up
  • 3 onions – medium sized and chopped finely but not minced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut


  1. To a mixing bowl add the chana dal (lentils),  make sure these are washed in water and drained thoroughly. Then add about 100ml of cold water.
  2. Allow the chana dal to soak in this water for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare the chopped snake gourd  as described earlier.
  4. To a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the soaked chana dal with its water. Cover and cook on a medium flame. A pressure cooker works well here but if unavailable, keep cooking until the lentils have softened. Transfer these to a pot.
  5. In a frying pan, add the oil and heat on a medium flame.
  6. Add the mustard seeds, green chopped chillis, curry leaves, chilli broekn up, finely chopped onions and salt to taste.
  7. Mix this all over the heat until the onion turns translucent.
  8. Add the turmeric powder and mix well.
  9. Add the cooked chana dal and mix well. Drain away as much of the water as is possible from the chana dal. Then add the chopped snake gourd and mix this in too.
  10. Cook for 10 minutes on a simmering heat (low-level) with the lid on.
  11. Allow the steam to cook what is a dry curry mix.
  12. Add more salt to taste – about a teaspoon would do it. Mix. Keep cooking for a further 10 or 15 minutes.
  13. Add the freshly grated coconut and mix well.
  14. Take off the heat.
  15. Serve on plates with rotis, chapatiss, rice or phulka. 
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