Lauki Tonic

Prep Time: 12 min Cook Time: 0 min

Lauki Tonic

Prep Time: 12 min Cook Time: 0 min

About This Recipe

When I first started learning about raw food, it was all very Western-oriented. In India, we didn’t have kale and blueberries available everywhere. I learned the concepts, but I had to make the connection between raw eating and using locally farmed, seasonal ingredients that were available to me. Lauki, or bottle gourd, is a common ingredient in India. It’s also called doodhi or ghiya and it’s a type of watery fibrous gourd. In the practice of Ayurveda, lauki is considered a very beneficial “cooling” and healing ingredient. It’s usually cooked as a sabzi, simmered with mild spices. To extract the maximum benefits from this underrated food, I like to make a lauki smoothie — a method you can try with any mild, watery gourd — in a recipe that will help you get more plant fiber in your diet.

The Benefits

Gourds are not often eaten raw, but they are full of nutritional benefits; in particular they are high in soluble fiber. With its high water content, lauki is a thirst-quencher that is also loaded with vitamin C. In India, lauki is traditionally considered to be “cooling” for the body and good for the heart, cholesterol, and sugar levels. Ginger, an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant with powerful medicinal properties, is also antidiabetic and may help lower cholesterol. It’s good for your digestion and for menstrual cramps. Ginger also relieves nausea and can help with joint pain, among other benefits. Chia seeds are tiny powerhouses of omega-3 and fiber, while lime is full of vitamin C for immunity and may lower your risk for certain cancers. Mint is a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for vision; it’s also often used to mitigate the symptoms of colds, irritable bowel syndrome, and indigestion. Besides adding more fiber, carrots are rich in beta carotene, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants. And beets are high in folate, as well as potassium, manganese, iron and vitamin C.

Equipment: Blender

Notes: Use organic bottle gourd from a trusted source. Certain gourds, including lauki, may contain curcubitacins, compounds which can be toxic when ingested. It’s best to first taste a small piece. If it’s bitter, you’d be better off cooking it, otherwise you’re fine . The fruit in this recipe provide natural sweetness — leave the skin on for extra fiber and antioxidants. Remember that no two fruits or vegetables are the same: growing conditions, season, and other factors play a part in flavor and nutrition. If yours are sweet enough, this recipe needs no additional sweetener — add a date or two to the blender if you feel it’s necessary.

You can optionally prep for your smoothie by chopping and pre-freezing your fruit and vegetables overnight in a freezer bag.   


Makes 2 to 4 smoothies

For the Tonic

  • 1 (250 g) small or medium lauki (bottle gourd), washed and roughly chopped with the skin
  • 2 (350 g) apples or pears, chopped and seeds removed
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1-inch-long piece of ginger, peeled
  • A fistful of mint leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime (20 ml)
  • 1 to 2 dates or 1 tsp jaggery to sweeten (optional)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • ¼ cup peeled and chopped carrot (optional)
  • ¼ cup peeled and chopped beets (optional)

For the Garnish

  • Pomegranate arils
  • Lime zest
  • Mint leaves


  1. Step 1
    Blitz all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender, adding water, until fully pulverized. If you didn’t pre-freeze your fruit and vegetables, you can add a couple of ice cubes while blending to get a fluffier texture and ensure your blender doesn’t get too hot.
  2. Step 2
    If the smoothie is too fibrous for your taste, strain it out with a wide sieve so that some of the smaller, more tender fibers remain. You can add some of the filtered-out fiber pulp back into the smoothie and mix well. Remember that many smoothies lack nutritional heft because they remove the fiber.
  3. Step 3
    Pour the smoothie into large glasses or bowls and serve chilled, with ice if you like. Garnish with pomegranate, lime zest, and mint leaves. Take a whiff of the mint before adding it! The aroma is invigorating, and some studies suggest that it may help with increasing alertness and decreasing fatigue.

Substitutions: Substitute bottle gourd with ash gourd (winter melon) or any young, greenish, mild-tasting summer gourd like chayote. The taste will be a bit different. I’ve even made raw pumpkin smoothies before, but that might be something you need to work towards. Use the skin if it is thin and tender, or remove if it’s a tough rind. You can also use flaxseeds instead of chia.

Zero Waste: Compost any peels or fiber you have left over.

Try it with: This would make a refreshing addition to a summertime brunch featuring vegan canapés.