I’m not sure if you are familiar with the spiny gourd. It’s a smaller, rounder version of the bitter gourd/ bitter melon covered in green pines. This is a vegetable that I’ve never seen till a few years ago when I discovered it in the local market her in Goa. I’ve never eaten this vegetable before and was wondering how to cook it. A friend suggested I try Indian Style Stir-fried Spine/ Spiny Gourd (Kantola/ Phaagil) And Potatoes.
The Spine Gourd is a seasonal vegetable. It usually floods the markets here sometime in July/ August every year. Though slightly bitter in taste, it is an absolute local favourite in Goa. People wait for it to reach the markets and will buy it even though priced on the more expensive side. I’m not sure why it isn’t cultivated on farms or even kitchen gardens here as it grows very easily.
That said, for the past two seasons I have been buying spine gourd and exploring ways to cook with it. So far, I have made it a few different ways. One is this Indian Style Stir-fried Spine/ Spiny Gourd (Kantola/ Phaagil) And Potatoes. The other is this Phaagila Phodi which is semolina encrusted pan-fried Spine Gourd.
This stir-fry is very easily cooked. It is somewhat similar in taste to the Bitter Gourd or Melon. However, it is not bitter until it starts ripening when it is not edible. The bright green tender gourds are the best. They have to be cut open and the seeds in the middle are discarded. If the seeds are very tender they can be left in.
The stand out is the combination of spices that go into it and the slightly bitter-salty-sour-sweet taste. You can serve this on the side with rice or chappatis. It is a common enough recipe among those who do cook this vegetable. Each recipe would have its own minor variations in the spices used depending on who is cooking it.