Health benefits of Spiny Gourd

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Spiny Gourd Quick Facts
Name: Spiny Gourd
Scientific Name: Momordica dioica
Origin India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, South East Asia, Polynesia besides tropical Africa and South America
Colors Usually green, shades change to greenish yellow or yellow as it ripens
Shapes Shortly beaked pods, obtuse with inner red kernel, densely echinate with soft spines
Flesh colors Red colored when completely ripe
Taste Bitter, sweet
Health benefits Prevents Hypertension and Supports Heart Health, Prevents Seasonal Infections,Boosts Immune System, Cures Eczema and Skin Problems, Protects Liver, Skin and Pimple Care, Prevents and cures Respiratory Disorders, Brain Function, Good for a Diabetic Patient, Supports Digestive System, Prevents Cancer, Peptic Ulcer and Piles, Treats Cough, Give relief in breathing problem, Remove kidney stones, Useful for pregnant women, Work as anti-aging, Improve eyesight, Reduce excess sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Momordica dioica, commonly known as spiny gourd or spine gourd is a species of flowering plant belonging to family Cucurbitaceae along with squash and pumpkins. Bitter gourd, a species related to kakrol, has been shown to have pharmacological properties including anti-diabetic and anti-steatotic effects. The plant is native to tropical regions on Asia with extensive distribution in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, South East Asia, Polynesia besides tropical Africa and South America. It is used as a vegetable in all regions of India and some parts in South Asia; it has commercial importance and is exported and used locally. The fruits are cooked with spices, or fried and sometimes eaten with meat or fish. The plant has got several common names including Balsam Pear, Spine gourd, Bristly Balsam Pear, Prickly Carolaho, spiny gourd, kantola, Small bitter gourd, Teasle Gourd, Kakrol, Kankro, Kartoli, Kantoli, Kantroli and Ban karola.

Plant Description

Spiny Gourd is a perennial, dioceous, herbaceous, climbing creeper that can reach over 2-3 meters in length. The plant can easily be cultivated on unfertile soil. Stem is slender, branched, furrowed, glabrous and shining. Tendrils are elongated, simple, striate and glabrous. Leaves are simple membranous ,broadly ovate in outline , variable in length 3.8-10 cm and 3.2-8 cm wide, cordate at the base, deeply lobed in 3-5 triangular lobes, punctuated, entire but distantly denticulate , petiole 1.3-4.5 cm. long   channeled above ,pubescent and glandular.

Spiny Gourd Facts

Name Spiny Gourd
Scientific Name Momordica dioica
Native Tropical regions on Asia with extensive distribution in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, South East Asia, Polynesia besides tropical Africa and South America
Common Names Balsam Pear, Spine gourd, Bristly Balsam Pear, Prickly Carolaho, spiny gourd, kantola, Small bitter gourd, Teasle Gourd, Kakrol, Kankro, Kartoli, Kantoli, Kantroli, Ban karola
Name in Other Languages Andhara: Aa-kakara-kaya
Arabic: Maedudat thunayiyat almuskan (معضوضة ثنائية المسكن)
Assamese: Bhat-kerela (ভাত কেৰেলা), Kakrul, Avandhya
Bengali:, Kakarola (কাকরোল), ghi korola, Kartoli
Cannad: Madahagala, Kayi
Chhattisgarhi: Kheksi
Chinese:  Yun nan mu bie,  Shan ku gua
English: Balsam Pear, Spine gourd, Bristly Balsam Pear, Prickly Carolaho, spiny gourd, Teasle Gourd, kantola, Small bittergourd
French: Margose de Ceylan
Gujarati: Kankoda (કંકોડા), Katwal
Hindi: Kakoda (ककोड़ा), Kikoda(किकोड़ा), Paroda(परोड़ा), kankoda, Kakora, Parora, Golbandra, Ban Karela (बन करेला ), beksa, dhar-karela, ghosalphal, golkandra, golkankra, jangli karela, jangli-karela, kakda jangli-karela, kakoda, kankero, kinkoda, murela
Kannada: Mada haagala kaayi (ಮಡ ಹಾಗಲಕಾಯಿ) Sihi hāgalakāyi (ಸಿಹಿ ಹಾಗಲಕಾಯಿ), Karchi-balli, Madahagala Gadde, ghatta haagalu, gida haagala, gidda haagala, gidhagalu, kaakontini, kaali kaayi, kaarthee kaayi, kartikai, mada haagala, mada haagalu, madahagala-kayi, maduvaagala, maduvaagalu, midi haagala
Konkani: Phagil (फागिल), Phagala
Malayalam: Erumpavel (എരുമപ്പാവൽ), Venpaval, Erima pasel, Machippavel,Kattupadavalam,Ben pavel, Erimapasel, Vempaval, Undapaval, Kattuppavel
Manipuri: Karot
Marathi: Kartole (करटोली), banzakartholi, banzakartoli, kartholi, kartoli, kertoli, phagulni
Mizo: Maitamtawk
Myanmar: Hainn hk paung (ဟင်းခပေါင်)
Nepali: Saano tite karelaa, van karela (वन करेला), chattel
Oriya: Kankada(କାଙ୍କଡ଼)
Punjabi: Dharkarela
Russian: Momordika dvudomnaya (Момордика двудомная)
Sanskrit: Karkotaki(कर्कोटकी), karkoti(कर्कोटी), avandhya, bhaktadamani, bhutapaha, bodhanajali, devi, diva, ishwari, kandashalini, kandavalli, kanta, karkasam, karkota, karkotah, karkotaka, karkotakee, karkotaki, mahajali, mahajalinika, mahayogeshwari, manasvini, manodna, nagahantri, nagarati, nagari, nakradamani, pathya, pitapushpi, putrada, sakanda, sarpadamani, sarvanshadhi, srikanda, sugandha, vahassa, vahisa, vahisee, vahisi, vandhya, vandhyakarkotaki, vishakandakini, vishakantakini, vishamohaprashamani, yogeswari
Sinhalese: Tumba karawila,
තුඹ කරවිල, Thumba Karavila'(‘තුඹ කරවිල ‘)
Tamil: Tumpai (தும்பை), Palupakkai, , mezhuku-pakal (மெழுகுபாகல்), pazhu-pakal, Tholoopavai,  Paluppakkay, aegarvalli, akacatankucakkoti, akacattankucam, ankitam#, cilekakkoti, cilekam, ekaram, ekaravalli, erumaippakal, kaattu pagal, kacalini, karkalavanki, karkalavankikkoti, kattu pakal, kattuppakal, kattuppakkal, kattuppalupakal, kattuppalupakarkoti, kottavi, kuram, malaippakal, melukupakal, nakatamaniyam, nakattukkuruvani, nay-p-pakal, netuviral, netuvirkoti, ocika, ocikakkoti, pallephagil, paloopaghel kalung, palu-pagal, palupaghel-kalung, palupakal, palupakarkoti, palupalagakalungai, paluppakal, paluppakkay, pazhu pagal, peyppakal , picanamakkoti, picanamam, pinkam, tumbai, virukkatini, virutcatini, apotakam, kalampi, kotippacalai, kotivacalai, kotivacalaikkirai, kotivayalai, kottuppacalai, kottuppacalai, kottuvacalai, kupotaki, kuttu pacalai, kuttuppacalai, pacalai, pacalaikkilanku, putuppacalai, vicatam, vicatappacalaikkoti
Telegu: Agakara (ఆగాకర), boda kakara, Karkotaki, , Adavikakara (అడవికాకర ), Akakara (ఆకాకర), aagaakara, anga kakara, angaakara, pomu donda, potu kakara, potuaagaakara, potuagakara, potukaakara, potukandulu, puagaakara, puagakara, theepi kakara
Plant Growth Habit Perennial, dioceous, herbaceous, climbing creeper
Soil Easily cultivated on unfertile soil
Plant Size 2-3 meters in length
Tendrils Elongated, simple, striate and glabrous
Stem Slender, branched, furrowed, glabrous  and shining
Leaf Simple membranous ,broadly ovate in outline , variable in length 3.8-10cm by 3.2-8 cm, cordate at the base, deeply lobed in 3-5 triangular lobes, punctated, entire but distantly denticulate ,petiole 1.3-4.5 cm. long   channeled above ,pubescent and glandular
Flowering season June to July
Flower Male flower is solitary, up to 2.8 cm long and yellow coloured. Petals are 1.3- 2.5 cm long, oblong lanceolate. Calyx five lobed, linear lanceolate. Corolla five partite, stamens three. Female flower is solitary, small bract below the middle of the peduncle, calyx and corolla as in male without staminodes or in form of gland three     united
Fruit Shape & Size Shortly beaked pod, obtuse with inner red kernel, densely echinate with soft spines
Fruit Color Usually green, shades change to greenish yellow or yellow as it ripens
Flesh Color Crisp and watery, filled with small, cream-colored to brown seeds and are red colored when fully ripe
Seed Rounded broadly ellipsoid, slightly compressed, slightly and irregularly corrugated enclosed in red pulp
Taste Bitter, sweet
Plant Parts Used Fruits, young twigs, flowers, and leaves
Season September to November
Health Benefits
  • Prevents Hypertension and Supports Heart Health
  • Prevents Seasonal Infections
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Cures Eczema and Skin Problems
  • Protects Liver
  • Skin and Pimple Care
  • Prevents and cures Respiratory Disorders
  • Brain Function
  • Good for a Diabetic Patient
  • Supports Digestive System
  • Prevents Cancer
  • Peptic Ulcer and Piles
  • Treats Cough
  • Give relief in breathing problem
  • Remove kidney stones
  • Useful for pregnant women
  • Work as anti-aging
  • Improve eyesight
  • Reduce excess sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

Flowers and Fruits

Male flower is solitary, up to 2.8 cm long and yellow colored. Petals are 1.3- 2.5 cm long, oblong lanceolate. Calyx is five lobed, linear lanceolate. Corolla is five partite, stamens three. Female flower is solitary, small bract below the middle of the peduncle, calyx and corolla as in male without staminodes or in form of gland three united, ovary clothed with long soft papillae and many ovuled, ellipsoid and yellow colored. Flowering normally takes place from June to July. Fertile flowers are followed by shortly beaked pods, obtuse with inner red kernel, densely echinate with soft spines. Pods are initially green, turning to greenish yellow or yellow as it ripens. Flesh is crisp and watery, filled with small, cream-colored to brown seeds and are red colored when fully ripe. Seeds are rounded broadly ellipsoid, slightly compressed, slightly and irregularly ribbed enclosed in red pulp.

Spiny Gourd can be consumed with the skin on and are best suited for cooked applications such as roasting, baking, and frying. They are often marinated for fritters and fried, stuffed with coconut and mustard, or used in fish stew. The spiky skin is cut away and the gourd cut in half, the seeds are scooped out with a spoon and added to a mixture of spices and chilles for the filling. After stuffing, the seed and spice mixture is spooned into the hollow cavity of the Spiny Gourd and is dipped in batter and fried in oil until browned. Spiny Gourd can also be sliced and peeled into several rounds, dusted with rice flour and spices, and pan-fried. In addition to the flesh, the seeds can be roasted and consumed as a snack. Spiny Gourd pair well with coriander, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder, curry leaves, garlic, onions, peanuts, and rice. They will keep 1-2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.

Health Benefits of Spiny Gourd

Spiny gourd is a great health food as it is rich in proteins and iron and is low on calorie. It is high in fiber and antioxidant and therefore very useful for easy digestion. It keeps your stomach in good shape during the monsoons by reducing the infections caused and controlling constipation. Listed below are some of the health benefits of spiny gourd

1. Prevents Hypertension and Supports Heart Health

Fresh fruit juice of spine gourd is recommended to people with high blood pressure. It supports blood circulation and helps prevent atherosclerosis due to high antioxidant activity. It consists of antilipid peroxidative properties, therefore protects and heals the artery walls.

2. Prevents Seasonal Infections

Monsoon time is considered as an ideal time for common viral infections in the form of fever, cold and cough. Mother Nature has given enough power to spiny gourd to prevent such infections. So don’t hesitate to eat it.

3. Boosts Immune System

Spine gourd possesses anti-allergic, antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It supports all functions of the immune system such as foraging the microbes, memory function of the immune system, and also killer cells.

4. Cures Eczema and Skin Problems

Juice of the young fruits can be applied on the skin to cure pimples and acne. Roasted seeds of the mature fruits are recommended for eczema and other skin problems.

5. Protects Liver

Spine gourd is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids that can scavenge free radicals. It has antilipid peroxidative properties, thus prevents oxidation of fats, hence preventing Fatty Liver in the first place. It is extremely optional to those suffering from Fatty Liver or Liver damage.

6. Skin and Pimple Care

It has been renowned that eating seasonal fruits or vegetables helps to maintain your skin moisture. Spiny Gourd consists of approximately 84% water within it. So it is a good choice no doubt. Even if you have a pimple on the face then crush the skin of Spiny Gourd and apply the juice in the infected region. It works fine. 

7. Prevents and cures Respiratory Disorders

Spine gourd fruit powder or infusion has errhine effect (induces mucus discharge) when introduced in the nostrils. It is used in Ayurveda to cure Asthma, Bronchitis, and to treat blocked sinuses.

8. Brain Function

Fruit of the plant possesses neuro-protective properties and supports the brain function via the CNS (Central Nervous System). In Ayurveda, it is used to treat mental disorders.

9. Good for a Diabetic Patient

Spine gourd has hypoglycemic properties. It also protects and regenerates pancreatic β-cells. Additionally, it improves both insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, helping to manage Diabetes at all levels. To treat Diabetes, it can be consumed as a stir-fried vegetable or juiced along with other greens.

10. Supports Digestive System

The vegetable is cooling in nature and easy to digest. Pulp and seeds are rich in soluble fiber and carry laxative properties. They support digestive system and recommended for health disorders such as gastric ulcers, piles, and constipation. Also it is used as a cure to biliousness, excessive production of bile juice.

11. Weight Management

Spiny Gourd is considered as a low-calorie vegetable (fruit).  So add it to your monsoon diet and reduce your extra fat right now. 

12. Prevents Cancer

Recent research shows that there are crucial antioxidants in the spiny gourd that can give you protection against cancer. Future research will expose more.

13. Peptic Ulcer and Piles

Simple light non-spicy boil curry is best for peptic ulcers and piles also. Don’t peel off the skin of the spiny gourd if you are making curry because the skin is most effective in this purpose.

14. Treats Cough

Coughing is the common problem that is seen in the children and adults due to instant change in climate or due to virus and bacteria. If you are suffering due to coughing, then you can take 3 grams of powdered Spiny Gourd thrice in a day with water to control the non-stop coughing.

15. Give relief in breathing problem

Due to fog and air pollution, breathing problems are increasing rapidly. One can consume spiny gourd to cure breathing problems. Mix 250-500 milligrams of Spiny Gourd’ s root powder with 1 tsp. ginger juice and 1 tbsp. of honey and consume it to get instant relief in any kind of breathing problem.

16. Remove kidney stones

If any person is suffering from the kidney stones, then he/she can get relief from kidney stones using Spiny Gourd. Add 10 grams of powdered Spiny Gourd in one glass of milk or water and drink it daily to remove kidney stones of kidney and bladder.

17. Useful for pregnant women

During the pregnancy, many serious situations can arise. One of the problems is neural tube defects. Fresh green pods of Spiny Gourd are good source of folates (Vitamin B9), which is essential for cell growth and reproduction. If pregnant mothers include fresh green pods of Spiny Gourd in their meals during the pregnancy period, then it decreases the chance of neural tube defects as Spiny Gourd has about 72 mcg/100 g of folates.

18. Work as anti-aging

Spiny Gourd also has different benefiting flavonoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthins that are well-known as protective foragers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species. All these compounds will help you to look younger by working as the anti-aging compound. It helps you to keep your skin healthy.

19. Improve eyesight

Spiny Gourd also consists of good amount of Vitamin A, which is essential for the good eyesight. In the season of Spiny Gourd, you can include it in your food to improve your eyesight.

20. Reduce excess sweating (Hyperhidrosis)

If you are feeling uncomfortable by problem of excess sweating then, you can use Spiny Gourd to get relief from the Hyperhidrosis. Take bath with the powdered spiny gourd. Use it as natural scrub. It will decrease the formation of excess bad odor sweating also it gives you smooth skin.

Traditional uses and benefits of Spiny Gourd

  • Various parts of Spiny Gourd are used as traditional herbal remedies for diabetes mellitus (DM) in India.
  • It is used in bleeding piles, urinary infection and as a sedative.
  • Fruit is also used to cure asthma, leprosy, excessive salivation, prevent the inflammation caused by lizard, snake bite, elephantiasis, fever, mental disorders, digestive disorders and troubles of heart and to treat discharge from mucous membrane.
  • Fresh fruit juice is recommended for hypertension.
  • Fruit is cooked in a small amount of oil and consumed for treating diabetes.
  • Tender fruits are rubbed on skin for pimples and acne.
  • Seeds are roasted and taken for eczema and other skin problems.
  • Powder or infusion of the dried fruits, when introduced into the nostrils produces a powerful errhine effect and aggravates a copious discharge from the schneiderian mucous membrane.
  • It is also used to cure fever, jaundice, asthma, bronchitis, piles, hepatic damages, mental digestive disorders, bleeding piles bowel affection and urinary complaints.
  • Juice of the leaves mixed with coconut, pepper, red sandalwood etc. in order to form an ointment and applied to the head to relieve pain in the head.
  • Leaf paste applied externally to skin and orally two or three times daily for skin disease.
  • Juice of root is stimulant, astringent, and antiseptic.
  • Mucilaginous tubers are anti-helmintic, spermicidal, anti-fertility abortificant, used in case of bleeding piles, similar bowel afflictions and urinary complaints.
  • Powder of root is applied to skin to make it soft and to reduce perspiration.
  • Mucilaginous tubers of female plants are used in bleeding piles & bowel infections.
  • Tuberous root is ground in hot water and 50 ml of juice is taken orally once a day on empty stomach to beat diabetes.
  • Toasted root is used to stop bleeding from piles and also in bowel complaints.
  • Juice of the root is a domestic remedy for the inflammation caused by contact with the urine of the house lizard in Konkan region.
  • Root of the male creeper is used in ulcers, especially those caused by snake bites.
  • Roots of the plant are also recommended for scorpion sting.
  • Root ground into a paste and smeared over the whole body is supposed to act as a sedative in high fever with delirium.
  • In Ayurveda, it is used as a dietary measure to cure many diseases as urinary disorders, respiratory disorders, and immune dysfunctions related to inflammation and fevers.
  • It should be consumed by new mothers to prevent colic and vomiting in babies.

Culinary Uses

  • Fruit can be cooked and used as a vegetable.
  • Young, green, spiny fruits are much esteemed as a curry-vegetable.
  • Semi-drying oil is extracted from the seed.
  • Tender shoots and leaves are used as greens.
  • The tuberous root is cooked as a vegetable.


Spiny Gourd Stir-fry


  • 500 – 700 g fresh and young Spiny Gourd
  • 1 and half teaspoon Turmeric
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 medium sized onion (optional)
  • 1 medium-sized potato (optional)
  • 1 small tomato (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 and half teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 and half teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil


  1. Wash and dry the Spiny Gourd. Slightly peel the damaged section. If not, then leave as such.
  2. Cut in slices horizontally to get 3-4 mm circular discs. Keep aside
  3. Peel and cut the potato in half inch cubes.
  4. Finely chop the onion, tomato, and garlic.
  5. Heat the pan and add oil.
  6. Once the oil is slightly hot, add mustard seeds.
  7. Add onions and garlic when the seeds start to splutter.
  8. Add turmeric, salt, and coriander powder when the onions and garlic have turned golden brown.
  9. Stir for 1 min and potato cubes.
  10. Cook the mix for 5 mins. Now add the Spiny Gourd discs and chopped tomato.
  11. Bring the gas to low/medium and cover. Keep stirring in between and let the mix cook for 10-15 mins till the Spiny Gourd is soft and crunchy.
  12. Do not overcook as the vegetable will lose its taste and texture.
  13. Serve along with rice or bread and enjoy!

Indian Style Stir-fried Spiny Gourd and Potatoes


  • 10 to 12 spiny gourds
  • 2 largish potatoes cubed (3/4″ approximately)
  • 2 medium onions sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. asafetida powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tbps. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. mango powder (optional)
  • to taste salt
  • 1 1/2 tbps. jaggery (or brown sugar)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh coriander leaves chopped, to garnish


  1. Wash and trim both ends of the spine gourds and chop them up into approximately 3/4″ pieces. Don’t remove the center portion with the seeds so long as the seeds are soft. The tender spine gourds are always the best to cook with.
  2. Parboil the cubed potato and keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the mustard seeds. When the crackle/ pop, add the asafetida powder and stir once or twice. Then add the onions and sauté till soft and translucent. Then add the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat till soft.
  4. Now add the turmeric, red chili, coriander and cumin powders and the salt. Stir and cook for a minute and then add the chopped spine gourd and the potatoes. Mix well, turn down the heat a bit and let them cook till almost done.
  5. Now add the amchur and the jaggery. Mix well and let the spine gourd and potatoes cook well. Finish off by adding the chopped coriander. Mix well, take it off the heat and transfer to a serving dish.
  6. Serve warm as a side dish with rice or chapattis.

Spicy spine gourd curry


  • 300 gm. spiny gourd
  • 1 Large Onion finely chopped
  • 1 -Tomato finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Green chili paste
  • 1 tsp. Ginger, garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. Garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp. Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. Curd


  1. Peel the Spiny Gourd and make small slit on it. Then rinse them thoroughly. Marinate all Spiny Gourd with salt and turmeric powder. Preheat pan and add 1tbs oil into it. When oil gets hot then fry kakrol until light brown.
  2. After frying remove them from oil and add 1tbs oil in same pan. When oil gets hot add cumin seeds, bay leaf, clove, cardamoms and cinnamon. After few seconds then add chopped onions and fry them until golden brown.
  3. Next add chopped tomatoes and sauté them for 2minutes. Then add ginger-garlic paste and fry them. After few minutes add green chili paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder and salt.
  4. Now add 2 tsp. water and fry all masala very well until oil separated. Then add fried Spiny Gourd and sauté the Karol for 2-3 minutes. Stir nicely until Spiny Gourd gets coated with spices. Then add whipped curd and mix it well.
  5. Mix curd very well. After few minutes add one and half cup warm water, two green chilies and cover it with a lid with a medium flame. After five minutes add 1 tsp ghee, half tsp. sugar and garam masala powder and cook for another 2 minutes and then switch off the flame. Spiny Gourd kalia is ready to serve with hot rice or roti.






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