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South Indian stuffed snake gourd (Pudalangai pooranam)

My grocer tends to have these long gourds at the entrance of the store, I have never been sure if this is a temptation or a warning. These gourds can grow as long as 4 feet in length and are a favourite in South Indian cuisine. I do love them too.

This is a simple recipe with a few steps. The stuffing is delicate with notes of coconut that are balanced by cilantro and green chillies. The spices bring the mild snake gourd alive in this elegant dish. This is a wonderful and healthy side dish for any Indian meal.

This is another cookbook from Chandra Padmanabhan that I adore. The recipes are varied across the southern states of India and each recipe turns out very well. The recipes, like this one, are authentic and wonderfully flavoured. This cookbook is for those who want to go beyond the ordinary and enjoy very localized cuisines from the South.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1-1 1/2 foot long snake gourd, cut into 2-inch cylinders, remove seeds and pith

Water, as needed

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup grated coconut

2-3 green chillies, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lime

Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1-2 dried red chillies

10-12 curry leaves

Add the coconut, green chillies, cumin, cilantro, water, lime juice and salt to a small blender and purée to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Add the oil to a small pot and temper the mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves for 20 seconds till the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the coconut purée and cook on medium heat till the spices smell cooked and the purée has thickened to a paste that holds together well. Cool.

Stuff the snake gourd hollow tubes with the spice mix packing it in well.

Layer the stuffed snake gourd pieces on their side in a large flat pan. Add just enough water to form a very slim layer and season with salt. Seal tightly and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes checking that the water has not dried out completely, if so top up with a touch more. Do not be tempted to add too much water, the stuffing will come out of the snake gourd cylinders. When cooked the snake gourd will turn beautiful light green and be very soft.

Serve hot with chapatis.

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