Ash Gourd/Kuvalo Sasam

By Published On: 16 Jun '21Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

Ash Gourd/Kuvalo Sasam is mildly spiced coconut and tamarind based Indian Konkan style curry flavoured with mustard seeds (sasam).

WELCOME TO WINTER 2021 and the Asian green grocers are stacked with ash gourd, also known by a plethora of names such as ash pumpkin, winter melon, wax gourd, white pumpkin, white melon, petha, lauki or kuvalo in Konkani. They are round or oblong and grow in a hairy vine. They have a green exterior with a powdery ash coloured coating when ripe and light greenish colour flesh with a mild flavour. As this gourd keeps for a long time (6 to 12 months), it is often the vegetable of choice for monsoon season in India along with field marrow. Every summer my mum would tie these gourds with string and hang them over the open beams in the store room for use during the monsoon season. This was a common practice in my household during every summer, when the entire family would gather for a day or two getting the vegetables, onions and garlic ready to store for use throughout the monsoon season. Is this a familiar site for many of you who grew in Mangalore in the 70s and 80s?

In Australia, winter melon seeds are sown from mid spring to early summer (October to January) and the mature fruit is harvested only after 14 to 16 weeks of sowing seeds as the plant takes a long time to grow and produce fruit. I buy this vegetable throughout winter. My mum used to cook this vegetable mostly in curries such as kuvalo bafat and puli koddel. A few days back, I saw cut pieces of this gourd at my green grocer and I could not resist my temptation to purchase a piece. To make things interesting, a couple of days before, I saw an announcement on Hungry Mangy announcing June was a Konkan month and requesting members to post a Konkan recipe by the end of June. What better way to showcase this winter vegetable in one of the most recognizable Konkan style recipes called ‘Kuvalo Sasam‘. Besides, it is one of my favourite childhood vegetarian recipes and takes me back to my school days.

Malvani cuisine is the cuisine of the South Konkan region of Maharashtra and Goa. Although this cuisine is an independent cuisine, it is heavily influenced by the traditions and culture of the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. The Malvani Coast is dotted with many picturesque fishing villages and coconut plantations. Fish is a popular main course and the recipes are very homely. In recent times, this cuisine has become one of the most popular cuisines and has some of the best seafood and vegetarian recipes you can ever find in India. As coconuts are available in plenty, fresh coconut and spices are the base for many of the seafood and other curries of the Konkan region. The ‘Kuvalo Sasam’ recipe below is native to the Konkan region. It is a simple yet versatile recipe that can be used to prepare many other vegetables such as bitter gourd, brinjal, hog plum, ripe mango, okra and field marrow.

Ash gourd is also used to make a delicious dessert (halwa) known as Kashi Halwa aka Kushmanda Halwa, which is popular in India and now around the globe. It is one of my all time favourite desserts.

So, where is Konkan Coast?

Konkan Coast aka Kokan is the coastal stretch of 450 miles on the west of India extending from the Indian states of Maharashtra, Goa to the south Indian state of Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada) with the Arabian sea on the west coast and Deccan plateau on the east. As such, the Konkan region occupies much of the west coast of India.

The districts covered by the Konkan Coast are Thane, Mumbai City, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and suburban Mumbai. Mumbai is the state capital of Maharashtra and it is the Konkan’s largest populous city. Other towns found in the Konkan coast are Bhatkal, Karwar, Honavar, Ankola and Kumta. The largest communities of the Konkan coast include Malvani, Vani (Rajapur Saraswats who arrived by sea) and Vaishya among others. Other different tribal communities include the Konkana (Gaud Saraswat Brahmins), Katkari and Warli people. The minorities include East Indian Christians, Muslims and Jews. Konkan has a rich Konkani culture and is home to beautiful sandy beaches, hills, ancient forts, waterfalls and temples. Fortunately, many of these are yet to be commercialised and hence have retained their natural beauty.

‘Kuvalo Sasam’ is a coconut based Konkan style ash gourd curry which is flavoured with mustard seeds (sasam) and is native to the Konkan region. In this recipe, the ash gourd is first cooked till just tender or shall I say al dente. It is important not to overcook this vegetable. I like to have a little bite when I bite into the cooked vegetable. As this vegetable has very little flavour, the next step is to enhance the flavour by adding a paste made with dry roasted spices. It’s a match made in heaven when this paste of dry roasted red chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds and coconut is married with the cooked vegetable. Finally, what brings flavour and character to this simple curry is the garnish made up of fresh seasoning of mustard seeds (sasam), crispy curry leaves and red chillies. A little jaggery (palm sugar) plays an important role in balancing the spice and the tang of this curry. I serve this curry with freshly steamed rice, papads and some spicy pickles and for me it makes a nutritious addition to my otherwise non-vegetarian diet. Oh it’s so yum!

For yet another Mangalorean style ash gourd or Kuvalo recipe, click here….

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Kuvalo (Ash Gourd or Winter Melon) Sasam

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
A mildly spicy coconut and tamarind based Konkan style ash gourd curry flavoured with mustard seeds (sasam). Here the spices are first roasted to bring up thier flavour profile and then blended to form a fine paste. This paste is added to the cooked ash gourd and finally flavoured with a seasoning of mustard seeds, red chillies and crisp curry leaves. A dash of jaggery (palm sugar) balances the spicy and tangy flavours perfectly and makes a nutritious curry to add to your diet.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Konkan, Konkan Coast
Servings 4


  • 1.5 kg Kuvalo or ash gourd or winter melon 800g-850g peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • 3 tsp. vegetable stock powder
  • 2-3 tbsp. powdered jaggery (palm sugar) or to taste
  • 1 golf size ball of tamarind
  • 3 Kashmiri Chillies or to taste
  • 4 long dried red chillies or to taste
  • 5 curry leaves plus 1 strand extra for seasoning
  • ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 25 g fresh or shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¾ tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 3 dried long red chillies for seasoning


  • Peel the ash gourd and discard the seeds at the core. Cut into bite size chunks or cubes. Place the ash gourd in a deep saucepan and add 250mL water. Cook for 10 minutes. Open lid and add salt, stock powder, powdered jaggery and stir gently to combine. Cook for a further 2-4 minutes or until just tender but not mushy.
  • While the ash gourd is cooking, place tamarind in a small cup. Add ¼-½ cup of hot water and set aside for 15 minutes. Squeeze pulp, discard any seeds and fibre and set aside.
  • For the masala paste, heat a small frypan on medium and dry roast the Kashmiri and dried red chillies for a minute or two. Do not burn the chillies. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Add the curry leaves. Dry roast for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to curl. Remove and set aside in a small bowl to cool.
  • Place frypan back on heat, dry roast the mustard seeds until they pop. This will take less than a minute as the pan is already hot. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  • Add the roasted chillies, roasted curry leaves, coconut and the reserved tamarind pulp to the chutney attachment of your blender and blend to a smooth paste with ½ to ¾ cup of water. Finally, add the roasted mustard seeds and pulse or blend for a few seconds or just until the mustard seeds are crushed but not completely blended. Blending the mustard seeds completely will render the curry slightly bitter.
  • Add the ground paste to the cooked ash gourd. Wash the blender with 100-150mL water and add to the saucepan. Stir well to combine. Place the saucepan back on medium flame and bring to the boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook the vegetable. Remove from heat.
  • For the seasoning, place a small frypan on medium and add coconut oil. When the oil is shimmering add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the red chillies. When the red chillies have changed to a deep red colour (takes only a few seconds), add the curry leaves. As the curry leaves pop immediately, move away from the pan as soon as you add the curry leaves. Remove from heat. Add this seasoning to the curry and close the lid immediately. Closing the lid ensures that all those delicious flavours are captured into the curry. Open after 5 minutes and give it a good stir.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice, spicy papads and spicy pickles of your choice. You may also have it with chapathi, naan or paratha.


  1. Using coconut oil for seasoning, enhances the flavour of this curry.  If you do not have coconut oil, you may use vegetable oil.  
  2. If you like a garlic flavour to your curry, bruise 3 cloves of garlic with skin until the skin bursts open and add to the oil in step 7, before you add the mustard seeds. Ensure that the cloves are golden brown before you add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Do not burn the garlic cloves.  
  3. The colour of the curry is dependent on the chillies you use.  Some chillies may yield a slightly darker or lighter colour than the photo.  
  4. This curry tastes best if eaten on the same day.
Keyword Ash Gourd, Ash Pumpkin Curry, Kuvalo, Kuvalo curry, Kuvalo Sasam, Kuvalo Sasam Curry, Mangalorean ash gourd curry, Winter Melon
Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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