Spine Gourd, anyone

Which is the most costly vegetable in town (I mean in Mumbai and Thane)?

If I say its Kantola you’re likely to be stumped. For, many of you may not have heard of such a vegetable. Okay, let me say “Spine Gourd”. Still stumped. Available during the monsoon months it’s priced at Rs 100 per kg. Also known as Kankoda it grows wild in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra.

A week or two after the rains had arrived I witnessed Kantola in my farm. Well, I was introduced to it by Mangal, my caretaker. “Saab it makes a great dish,” he insisted. And for the first time I tasted Kantola with potatoes cooked by my wife after she had downloaded the recipe from the Net. Its bitter but is unlike karela.
Spine gourd is a nutritious vegetable crop locally known as Meetha Karela, Khekhsa, Padora, Bhaat Karela, Konkani, Kakrol, Kankro, Aakakarakaya, Phagla, Phaagil, Ban Karela, Bhat Karola, Kartola, Teasel Gourd and Boda Kakarakaya among others, in different regions.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has identified Indira Kankoda I (RMF 37), a variety of spine gourd for commercial cultivation in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra.
Known to be beneficial to diabetic people, this will be the first spine gourd variety identified for commercial cultivation.

‘Newly identified Kankoda or spine gourd variety Indira Kankoda I (RMF 37) is resistant to all major pests. Its green fruits are very attractive, dark green and ready to harvest for vegetable purpose in 75-80 days from seeds in the first year and 35-40 days from tubers from second year onwards up to five-six years,’ according to ICAR.
The crop is popular among the farmers due to its nutritional value and its shelf life. If Kankoda seeds are once sown in the field, tubers sprout at the onset of monsoon every year. A good green yield can be harvested every year and up to five-six years from the same tubers or plants. This small, cute, spiny fruit is always used as a vegetable for cooking. It may look spiny but it is so soft to the touch that it won’t hurt your fingers!
It is green when unripe and will turn yellow when mature. The seeds are white and soft but it will turn dark brown and hard when ripe. As in most fruits used as vegetables, always get those still in the green stage.

It’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, and iron.  It reminds one of a cross between a bitter zucchini, okra and a cucumber.  But, the texture is denser and a bit tougher.  When fried, it reminds one of fried okra with none of the slime.
Consumption of spine gourd activates the pancreas and controls the level of sugar. Its green fruits contain 12-14 percent protein.

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30 thoughts on “Spine Gourd, anyone

  1. Shubha Khandekar

    Thanks for this info. All I know about this: we call it kartuli: is that it’s absolutely delicious and I wait for it the whole year. It’s available for no more than 15 days during the rains and is yes, expensive, so I make it a point to have as much of it every season as my budget permits!

    1. hiraman

      If I’m able to get the seeds or grafts I plan to have them on my farm. And if it grows and fruits will surely keep some for you.

  2. Sanjeev Goyal

    I think you forget Rajasthan —– this vegitable is very popular in Rajasthan and during the rainy season this vegitables stems comes out mainly around trees, on the throne partiations (which seperates two fields also known as BAAD).

    Dark Green is best quality if color changes like white or yellow then this develops hard seeds and not good.

    If cooked in mustard oil with spices it creates a great flavor …..

      1. rama

        Hi Hiren,

        I came across your site while searching for Kankoda seeds. I love this vegetable and am searching for source of seeds and also Parval seeds for some time. Is the seed shop information you provided, current? Are there other shops that you know of in Gujarat where I can obtain these seeds?

        I have been reading your blog for last three days and just finished it. I love the way you describe it. Thank you,

        Rama

  3. Abhay Mokashi

    Hi rama,

    I am searching for this seeds, I am from mumbai, will you please give me information where should I will get these seeds.

  4. Arvind

    Hi I have been searching this seeds for long time, I live in central Florida. Is there any
    any shop in India willing to sell me seeds. Many thanks

    1. hiraman

      hello arvind
      they grow wild during monsoon. i haven’t come across any shop selling seeds. if i do come across will inform you.

  5. mridula

    Hi friends
    you just buy ripe kantola from the market and let it dry then plant all the seeds from each fruit in a large pot you will have both male and female plants…just plant them 5″ apart ….wait till they flower then you will need 1 male plant for every 3 female plant. Kantola will produce roots for planting.

    1. hiraman

      Hello Mostafa
      Thanks for writing. Kakral grows wild during the monsoon months. I have tried to acquire the seeds but failed.

    1. hiraman

      Dear Sundar
      Kantola seedling or stump are not easily available. In fact, the one I have in my farm grows wild. The seed may have been brought by a bird. Sorry, I can’t help.

  6. Yogesh pardhi

    Hi sir are only katola Singale crop a year after planting how to earn in year 1 hq. Per crop pl;z guid

    1. hiraman

      Just wanted to tell you that getting seeds of kantola is a rarest thing. As they are mostly propagated by cutting a branch

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