This vegetable produces long and curved fruits that appear like snakes hanging on the supports or the ground. This subtropical plant grows very fast in warm climates and produces lots of fruits for a long time. It is best to grow this vine plant along supports for obtaining young straight fruits. Young fruits are harvested and cooked like Luffa. Seeds have a hard coat and may take a long time to germinate. There are several varieties with different fruit skin and length grown in Asia. Striped, speckled and looking very much like dangling green serpents that can grow up to 6 feet long, snake gourds are one of the vegetables that elicit frequent comments from my garden visitors. Snake gourds taste surprisingly like cucumbers, and are prepared in many excellent ways in flavorful chutneys, as zesty pickles and in a host of other Asian dishes, There are two distinct categories of snake gourds offered by U.S. seed companies. One is a long, ornamental gourd that develops a hard shell when ripe; the other is the waxy-skinned snake gourd discussed here, a vegetable described botanically as Trichosanthes anguina or T. cucumerina. Its genetic origin is the Indian sub-continent, but today, the snake gourd is grown all over the world, especially in tropical regions. It is one of the most popular culinary vegetables in southern India, where many distinct varieties have been developed. For the experimentally inclined cook, many recipes are available through the Internet from Indian Web sites. One excellent place to look for recipes is The Hindu, India’s national English-language newspaper (go to www.thehindu.com and search for “snake gourd”). The only drawback is that some of the local Indian ingredients are not readily available in North America, especially fresh leaves of the curry plant. But the snake gourd is quite adaptable. It can be stuffed, stir-fried, baked and prepared in the same manner as zucchini. It can make an excellent vegetarian lunch, too, best eaten like a cucumber in a salad, or cooked using any one of hundreds of delicious recipes available.
Snake Gourd With Chicken
5-8 small snake gourds, sliced at an angle. If the gourd has mature seeds
inside, remove them.
2 Thai hot chili pepper or 1 jalapeno, sliced ***Marinade:
3 cloves garlic, chopped ¼ tsp. powered garlic
1 onion, sliced thinly 1 tsp. soy sauce
2 cups raw chicken breasts, sliced and marinated*** 1 tsp. cooking wine
1 tsp. real chicken base ¼ tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste ¼ tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil 1 tsp. cornstarch
½ cup water
Marinate chicken in marinade for 10 minutes. Stir fry chicken, garlic, pepper and onion in hot oil for
5 minutes. Add sliced snake gourds, chicken base and water. Continue cooking until snake gourd
is tender. If desired, 1 tsp. cornstarch can be added to the stir-fry at the last minute to make the
liquid more gravy-like.
This recipe can also be prepared using asparagus or long beans.