How to Clean and Prepare Bottle Gourd (Slaouia)

  • 01 of 07

    Slaoui (Bottle Gourds) in Morocco

    Bottle Gourds - Slaoui. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Slaouia (plural slaoui) is often referred to as a squash, but actually, it's an edible gourd. In Morocco they're fairly large, often 12" in length, and have pale green skin. Slight imperfections in the skin are nothing to worry about. Although the slaoui shown here are straight, they might have curved necks.

    In other parts of the world, slaouia is known by different names:

    • Lauki or dudhi (doodhi) in India
    • Cucuzza in Italy
    • Hulu or huzi in China
    • Bottle gourd, milk gourd, or calabash in the...MORE English-speaking world

    Before they're cut up to be used in Moroccan cooking, slaoui should be peeled and the spongy flesh discarded. The following photos show this easy prep work.

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  • 02 of 07

    Discard the Bottle Gourd's Narrow Neck

    Discard the Slaouia's Neck. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Wash the bottle gourds then cut off the neck. The narrow neck is typically firmer than the rest of the bottle gourd, so it should be discarded. The rest of the slaouia will be prepped for use in Moroccan recipes.

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  • 03 of 07

    Peel the Bottle Gourd

    Peel the Bottle Gourd's Pale Green Skin. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the bottle gourd's pale green skin. The newly exposed, bright green layer is a bit slippery, so be careful as you work.

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  • 04 of 07

    Remove the Bottle Gourd's Seeds and Spongy Interior

    Remove the Bottle Gourd's Flesh or Pulp. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    Cut the peeled bottle gourd in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to remove the seeds and spongy interior. This flesh will be discarded as it turns mushy when cooked. Only the peeled, hollowed-out slaouia is used in Moroccan cooking, as it retains shape and palatable texture.

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  • 05 of 07

    Cut the Bottle Gourd Into Pieces

    Cut the Bottle Gourd Into Pieces. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    The hollowed-out bottle gourd might be left as-is if adding to couscous, but usually, ​it's cut into smaller pieces for cooking in salads or tagines. Here I've cut a slaouia into narrow bands, but the pieces can be wider or chopped even smaller. 

    The next page shows slaouia cooked in a tagine.

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  • 06 of 07

    Tagine of Slaouia

    Tagine of Bottle Gourd (Slaouia). Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    The slaouia pictured here has been cooked with some beef in a Moroccan tagine or stew. Lamb or goat meat might also be used, depending on the region or personal preferences.

    I used a pressure cooker and served the meal in the base of a traditional tagine, but the recipe is also easily prepared in a conventional pot. See the Tagine of Slaouia Recipe for complete directions.

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  • 07 of 07

    Cooked Slaouia Salad

    Moroccan Bottle Gourd Salad. Photo © Christine Benlafquih

    You can also try bottle gourds in this easily cooked salad, which may be served as a dip with bread or eaten with a fork.

    Recipe for Moroccan Slaouia Salad