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Bottle Gourd

An Introduction
One of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, bottle gourd is a climbing plant which bears hard-shelled and bottle-shaped gourds as fruits. This delicious vegetable is also known by the names of bottle squash, calabash gourd, doodhi and lowki. A rich source of vitamins, iron and minerals, it is an excellent diet for people having digestive problems. Since it contains low calories, bottle gourd is an awesome foodstuff for shedding extra calories and maintaining optimum health.

For centuries, a wide range of cultures throughout the world, have used this annual vine for different purposes. Researchers have discovered bottle gourd's remains from Mexican caves dating from 7000 BCE. Traces of this gourd have also discovered near Egyptian tombs belonging to the 4th millennium BCE. Even today, its popularity graph is surging up and bottle gourds are widely used for preparing many delicious recipes. When dried, this variety of gourds are used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe by many people all across the globe.

Bottle Gourds..in Other Languages
China: po gua, poo gua, kwa kwa, dudhi, hu gua, hu lu gua, opo
  • India: lauki
  • Indonesia: labu
  • Japan: hyotan, yugao
  • Malaysia: labu ayer
  • Philippines: upo
  • Sri Lanka: diya labu
  • Thailand: buap khaus, nam tao
  • Vietnam: bau.

Botanical Description
Bottle gourds is an annual vine (lagenaria siceraria) having white flowers and smooth, large, hard-shelled gourds. Grown most often in warmer climates, this squash grows from 6 to 36 inches long and 3 to 12 inches in diameter.

Following is the scientific classification of bottle gourds:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Division: Magnoliophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida
  • Order: Cucurbitales
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Genus: Lagenaria
  • Species: L. siceraria
  • Binomial name: Lagenaria siceraria.
helpful in shedding extra calories. It contains higher concentrations of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Manganese, Protein, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium.

Nutritional Value & Benefits
A rich source of minerals and vitamins, bottle gourds contains many healing and medicinal properties. The cooked vegetable is not only easy to digest but also contains cooling, calming (or sedative), diuretic properties. It contains low calories also has iron, Vitamin C and B complex. Regular consumption of this vegetable provides relief to people suffering with digestive problems, diabetics and convalescents.

Following chart explains the nutritional contents of bottle gourds:

  • Calories: 22
  • Total Fat: 0.0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 347mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5.4g
  • Protein: 0.9g.

Culinary Uses
Due to its delicate and nutty flavour, bottle gourds are widely used for preparing many delectable recipes. It serves greatly to hot curries as well as cooling yogurt dishes like Raita. As a vegetable, it is widely used in southern Chinese cuisine as either a stir-fry or in a soup. It can be used like squash but it has a firmer, crisper texture.

Other Uses

  • Dried and empty bottle gourds are used as a utensil in households across West Africa
  • In some tribal areas of the world, dried bottle gourds are used for storing locally made liquors
  • They are used to clean rice, carry water and also just as a food container
  • In African nations, musicians use this vegetable in making musical instruments like the kora (a harp-lute), xalam (a lute), ngoni (a lute) and the goje (a traditional fiddle)
  • In Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil, calabash gourds are dried and carved into mates, the traditional container for the popular caffeinated tealike drink (also called mate) brewed from the yerba mate plant.

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