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|Egyptian luffa with nearly mature fruit|
In everyday non-technical usage, the luffa, also spelled loofah, usually refers to the fruits of the species Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula. It is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable, but must be harvested at a young stage of development to be edible. The vegetable is popular in India, China and Vietnam. When the fruit is fully ripened, it is very fibrous. The fully developed fruit is the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge which is used in bathrooms and kitchens.
The name luffa was taken by European botanists in the 17th century from the Egyptian Arabic name لوف lūf.
The fruit section of L. aegyptiaca may be allowed to mature and used as a bath or kitchen sponge after being processed to remove everything except the network of xylem fibers. If the loofah is allowed to fully ripen and then dried on the vine, the flesh disappears leaving only the fibrous skeleton and seeds, which can be easily shaken out. Marketed as luffa or loofah, the sponge is used as a body scrub in the shower.
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In Hindi-speaking North Indian states, it is called torai (तोरई), and cooked as vegetable. But in central/Western India, specially in Madhya Pradesh, it is called gilki (गिल्की). Torai is reserved for ridge gourd and is less popular than gilki in central western India.
In Bhojpuri speaking regions it is called ghiura. Apart from fruit of the vegetable, flowers are also used as vegetable as chokha, tarua, pakoda, etc.
In Gujarat it is known as turia or turya (તુરીચા) as well as ghissori or ghissora in the Kutchi language. It is a simple but very popular vegetable usually made with a plentiful tomato gravy and garnished with green chillies and fresh coriander. When cooked roti is shredded by hand and mixed into it, it is colloquially known as "rotli shaak ma bhuseli". Alternatively this dish is also eaten mixed with plain cooked rice.
In Karnataka's Malenadu (Western Ghats) it is known as tuppadahirekayi, which literally translates as "buttersquash", also known as Hirekayi in Kannada. It grows naturally in this region and is consumed when it is still tender and green. It is used as a vegetable in curries, but also as a snack, bhajji, dipped in chickpea batter and deep fried. In Tulu language it is known as Peere and is used to prepare chutney and ajethna.
In Telangana, it is called beerakaya. It is used in making Dal,Fry, Roti Pacchadi and wet curry.
In Andhra Pradesh, it is called nethi beerakaya or beerakaya. And in Assam it is called jika (জিকা, Luffa acutangula) and bhula (ভোল, Luffa aegyptiaca). It is used as a vegetable in a curry, chutney and stir fry.
In Kerala, it is called peechinga; in the Palakkad area it is particularly called poththanga and used in while bathing. It is also used as a vegetable, cooked with dal or stir fried. Fully matured fruit is used as a natural scrub in rural Kerala. In some places such as Wayanad, it grows as a creeper on fences.
In Maharashtra, India, dodka (ridge gourd luffa) and ghosavala (smooth luffa) are common vegetables prepared with either crushed dried peanuts or with beans.
In Manipur, India, sebot is cooked with other ingredients like potato, dried fish, fermented fish and served. It is also steamed and consumed or crushed (ironba) with other ingredients and served with steamed rice (chaak). Fried ones (kaanghou) are also favorites for many. Sebot is also eaten as a green vegetable
Other Asian cuisines
In China and Taiwan (where it is called Chinese: 丝瓜; pinyin: sīguā, or in English, "silk melon"), Indonesia (where it is called oyong), and the Philippines (where it is called patola in Tagalog and kabatiti in Ilokano) and Manipur, India, (where it is called sebot) the luffa is eaten as a green vegetable in various dishes.[which?]
In Japan it is called hechima (へちま) and is cultivated all over the country during summer. It is commonly used as a green vegetable in traditional dishes of the Nansei Islands. In other regions it is also grown for uses other than food.
In Japan, in regions other than the Nansei Islands and Kyushu, it is predominantly grown for use as a sponge or for applying soap, shampoo, and lotion. As with bitter melon, many people grow it outside building windows as a natural sunscreen in summer.
Role in food chain
Luffa aegyptiaca, fruit and seeds - MHNT
A luffa sponge whose coarse texture helps with skin polishing
Luffa aegyptiaca sponge section magnified 100 times
- The plant name "luffa" was introduced to Western botany nomenclature by the botanist Johann Vesling (died 1649), who visited Egypt in the late–1620s and described the plant under cultivation with artificial irrigation in Egypt. In 1706 the botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort introduced the formal botany genus name "Luffa". Tournefort referred to Veslingius's earlier description and reiterated that "Luffa Arabum" is a plant from Egypt in the cucumber family. In establishing the genus Luffa, Tournefort identified just one member species and called it "Luffa Arabum". His 1706 article includes detailed drawings of this species (which is now called Luffa aegyptiaca). The species is native to tropical Asia but has been under cultivation in Egypt since late medieval times. The botanist Peter Forsskål visited Egypt in the early–1760s and noted that it was called ليف lūf in Arabic. In the 18th century the botanist Linnaeus adopted the name luffa for this species but assigned it to the genus Momordica, and did not use a separate genus Luffa. More refs on Luffa in 18th century botanical nomenclature: "A commentary on Loureiro's "Flora Cochinchinensis" ", by E.D. Merrill, year 1935, in Transactions of American Philosophical Society volume 24 part 2, pp 377-378. Luffa @ ATILF Archived 2013-10-17 at the Wayback Machine and "Suite de l'Etablissement de Quelques Nouveaux Genres de Plantes", by J.P. de Tournefort (1706) in Mémoires de l'Academe Royale des Sciences année 1706.
- "Luffa aegyptiaca". Floridata.com. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- rolexawards.com; Recyclable homes, Rolex Awards 2008
- link, Get; Facebook; Twitter; Pinterest; Email; Apps, Other. "Fish with colocasia and sponge gourd | Bhul kosu aru mas". Retrieved 2019-05-21.
- "Peerkangai kootu | Ridge gourd kootu". southindianfoods.in. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
- "Peerkangai Tuvaiyal". Saffron Trail. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
- "Ridge Gourd chutney without coconut". udupi-recipes.com. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
- Chakravarty, H. L. (October 1948). "Extrafloral Glands of Cucurbitaceæ". Nature. 162 (4119): 576–577. Bibcode:1948Natur.162..576C. doi:10.1038/162576b0. S2CID 4128826.
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- Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne