If you scour the Internet for explanations on the differences between pumpkins, gourds, and squash and you will get a treasure trove of botanical and culinary explanations.

Pumpkin and squash are hailed as the go-to fruits of the Fall harvest, with recipes galore using both as the star ingredients. Gourds, however, are typically resigned to being the less edible, and more decorative of the trio.

In the West, gourds are typically designated as Fall centerpieces, pumpkins are something you carve, and squash is what you eat.

However, in Indian cuisine, gourds are part of a real cornucopia of foods eaten, not just displayed. And pumpkin is not just a something to carve or put in a pie; it’s a component to many curries.

All three are part of the same plant family Cucurbitaceae. But that’s the only scientific jargon we will hit you with—now on to recipes! Pumpkin, gourd, and squash can be used in many different ways in Indian cuisine, be it fried or curried, on its own or paired with other ingredients.

Here are three of our favorite recipes showcasing the splendor of Fall foods masalafide!


[Photo Credit: Pinterest]

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 large bitter gourds, sliced into thin rounds

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • ½ cup gram flour

  • ½ cup rice flour

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Canola oil for deep frying


Place bitter gourd rounds in a colander and sprinkle with some salt and turmeric powder.  Toss well to combine so bitter gourd is evenly coated and set aside for 30 minutes. Wash thoroughly and drain excessive moisture.

To make the coating, combine gram flour, rice flour, garam masala, cumin powder, chili powder, fennel powder, and salt. Mix well to combine.

Next, toss bitter gourds with flour coating; shake off excess flour.

Heat oil for deep frying; fry bitter gourds to golden-brown crisps.

Drain any excess oil and serve hot.



[Photo Credit: Pinterest]

Makes 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Large pinch ground asafetida (also called hing)

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed

  • 1/2 teaspoon panch puran*

  • 2 dried red chilies

  • 1 small onion, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated garlic

  • ½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, flesh cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk

  • ¼ cup unsalted vegetable stock

Note: Panch puran is a spice blend commonly used in Odisha and Bengal. It consists of equal quantities of fenugreek, nigella seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, and mustard seeds. In Asian supermarkets in the U.S., it is commonly referred to as  Bengali five-spice.


Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add asafoetida, bay leaf, crushed cinnamon, panch puran, and chiles. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring well to combine.

Add the onion and reduce the heat/flame to medium-high and stir. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are softened and golden brown.

Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, coriander, salt, and turmeric to the pan and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.

Note: Be careful not to overcook the butternut squash. To check tenderness, pierce a piece with a paring knife without applying pressure; if it goes in smoothly, the squash has been cooking through and it is ready to be removed from heat.


[Photo Credit: Pinterest]

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 medium-large onion, diced

  • 1 large tomato, diced

  • ½ Tablespoon garlic paste

  • ½ Tablespoon finely grated ginger

  • 1½ teaspoons garam masala powder

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 pound pumpkin, seeds removed, flesh cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

  • 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock

  • 1 (15 ounces) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

  • ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk

  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish. chopped (optional)


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened and translucent.

Add the tomato, garlic paste, and grated ginger and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Next, Add garam masala, coriander, black pepper, chili powder, cinnamon powder, and bay leaf and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

Add the pumpkin and vegetable stock, then bring up to a boil.

Cover the pot and reduce heat/flame to medium-low. Cook about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and coconut milk and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Garnish as desired. Serve hot.