Ridge Gourd known as Heerekayi in Kannada is a popular vegetable in South Indian cuisine. As children we would be given a raw piece to taste and identify the ones that are bitter.
The other common names are Ribbed Sponge Gourd, angled loofah, Chinese okra, dish-cloth gourd, ribbed gourd. In Hindi it is known as Gilki, Torai. In Bengali it is known as Ghinge, in Telugu it is Beerakaya. The botanical name is Luffa acutangular and belongs to Cucurbitaceae (cucumber) family and is a native of Central, South, and East Asia.
The plant is a vine and can be easily grown. The leaves are green and rounded and covered with hairs. Flowers are yellow and both male and female flowers bloom on the same plant. The fruit is green, long, ribbed, and cylindrical in shape. The fruit tapers where it is attached to the plant. The skin is rough and has ridges and can grow up to two feet.
Ridge Gourd is cultivated as a vegetable and is popular in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Ridge gourd is low in calories, high in fiber, and contains essential nutrients. Occasionally, the leaves and flowers of the plant are also used in cooking. In addition, the seeds are also filled with health benefits.
Ridge gourd can be cooked in many ways, it can be stir-fried, sautéed, stuffed, with spices.
The mature fruit section after drying on the vine is used as a loofah for body scrub.
Due to the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acid in Ridge gourd seeds, it is used as a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic. It is a good antioxidant, antimicrobial, and protects from allergy.