Parvar( Pointed Gourd)
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Parvar looks very much like a shorter, more robust version of a cucumber. It is, after all a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. The striped gourd is four to five inches long, slightly pointed at one end and blunt on the other. Its skin is a yellowish-green color and is variegated with darker streaks of color. The flesh is a creamy white with small, firm seeds. The flavor of the gourd itself is rather bland, allowing it to pick up a variety of flavors from spices in dishes. When mature, the gourd turns a burnt orange color and becomes tasteless.
Parvar is available from mid-summer though mid-fall.
A vegetable known for its nutritional value and its digestibility, Parvar is known by many other names: Parwar in Hindi and Potol in Bengalese. It is most often referred to as a “pointed gourd”. In its native region, Parvar is considered a luxury and can be quite expensive in the markets.
Parvar is high in calories, with around 24 calories per 3.5 ounces of fruit. It is full of vitamins A, C and magnesium as well as other micro-nutrients.
Parvar has a variety of applications, though it is most often seen in curries or stir fries. Scrape off or peel the skin, remove the pointed tip and bottom and cut lengthwise. Remove the more mature, hard seeds leaving the softer, young seeds. Parvar can be stuffed, or cut into cubes and sauteed, or made into soups that are said to calm the stomach and aid in digestion. Parvar can also be pickled in vinegar with an assortment of herbs and spices.
In Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, Parvar has a high profile. It is used to balance one's Kapha. It is used to treat digestive disorders, skin conditions and fevers. An extract is made of the gourd’s seeds and used to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. In the West Indies, Parvar or Parwal is cooked with potatoes, and served with yogurt or in a vegetable dish known as subzis.
Parvar, or Trichosanthes dioica, is a very important vegetable in India and Pakistan. It is very popular in Northeastern Indian states such as Bengal, Assam, and Orissa. It is grown in the southern, plains region of Nepal as well. It is native to India and is most often found in that region, but can be grown around the world in tropical and sub-tropical areas.