Ash Pumpkin Curry

By Published On: 4 May '20Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

This Ash Pumpkin Curry is simple, flavourful and well balanced by the gentle heat of green chillies and creamy coconut milk, featuring turmeric as the only hero spice.

Ash Pumpkin Curry

WELCOME TO WINTER 2020 and a season when the Asian green grocery stores are stacked with ash gourd or winter melons and I get inspiration to write a winter melon curry or Ash Pumpkin Curry recipe.

Ash gourd, ash pumpkin, winter melon or as most Mangalureans call it ‘kuvalo’. Funnily, I used to be called as ‘kuvalo’ by my friends because my maiden name is “Coelho” and when translated into Konkani, it kind of comes out as ‘kuvalo’. In a way I liked to be associated as ‘kuvalo’ and I remember I used to give a smirky smile at my school friends when they used to refer me as ‘kuvalo’. Those were the days my friends, hold special memories and even the nuns who taught at my school used to pronounce my surname ‘Koo-veh-leeo’ not quite Coelho. It sounds like a totally different surname when I think of it now!

Anyway, back to ‘kuvalo’ now. This vegetable is unique to India, parts of South East Asia and China. It grows on a vine and a mature gourd is pale gray in colour, coated in distinctive white ash. Because of this ash, this gourd/melon is known as ash gourd. The flesh of the melon is thick, firm and white with many small seeds. It is interesting to note that although it is called a melon, the flesh is not sweet. When I was growing up, my mum used to store the matured melon for up to 12 months due to its long shelf life to be used during the monsoon months. It was secured tightly with a rope and hung from an exposed beam either in the kitchen or the store room.

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 in Sydney.

When I arrived in Sydney, I went on a wild hunt for this vegetable and what I found closest to a kuvalo was a large round green gourd that looked almost like a watermelon but without any ash on it. On close examination, I noticed there to be really thin gray mist on the exterior with fine hair. No vegetable grocer in Sydney knew about ash gourd and in fact they looked quite amused when I asked them “is this vegetable ash gourd”? That was a huge disappointment as both my husband and me were dying to make kuvalo bafat curry. So, the two of us took a big plunge into buying this large round green vegetable that was called winter melon. Unfortunately, on that day we had to buy the whole gourd as all the cut pieces had been sold out. Oops! bad luck! my husband got the kuvalo bafat for the rest of the month! After that I never bought ash gourd for two whole years! Even now, if I put kuvalo on the shopping list, my poor husband will only buy a 500g piece of it, never to make that old mistake again! Ok guys, time to move on!

Ash gourd has virtually no taste of its own as it is very mild and so it is easy to incorporate into curries which we do in South India. In North India, it is also used for making a sweet called Petha, juices and salads however it is in my wish list to try some of these one day soon.

Ash Pumpkin Curry

Ash Pumpkin (Winter Melon) Curry with Tumeric

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
This is a brand new ash gourd curry recipe which is simple, full of flavour and you need very little prep time. The only hero spice used in this recipe is the priceless turmeric powder. In this easy curry, the gentle heat coming from the green chillies is balanced beautifully by the addition of little creamy coconut milk and enhanced by the flavour of the curry leaves. Serve with steamed fluffy rice and papads for that perfect weeknight vegetarian dinner option.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 1 kg ash pumpkin kuvalo
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 3 green chillies sliced
  • 1 tsp. vegetable stock powder
  • 2 tsp. sugar or to taste
  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste

For the seasoning

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  • Peel the ash pumpkin and cut into 5cm long slices or bite size pieces.
  • In a deep saucepan combine ash pumpkin, coconut milk, turmeric powder, garlic, green chillies, stock powder, sugar and salt. Stir well and cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the ash pumpkin is soft but not mushy. The lid should be closed whilst cooking and stir from time to time for even cooking. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • For the seasoning, heat oil in a small frypan on medium and add onions. Fry onions for 6 minutes or until golden brown stirring from time to time. Add the curry leaves and when they start to splutter, remove from heat. Add seasoning to the cooked ash pumpkin and close lid immediately. Closing the lid captures all the flavours of the seasoning into this beautiful mild curry. After 5 minutes open lid and give it a good stir.
  • Delicious served with hot steamed rice and papads.
Keyword Ash Gourd, Kuvalo, 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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