Tindora is a type of vine which also goes by the names of ivy gourd or most simply, the Indian gourd. The fruits of the vine is the part that is consumed, and it is popular all over the Indian subcontinent. It has a naturally sour flavor, which makes it well-suited for Gujarati cuisine because as I have mentioned before, the essential trinity of Gujarati flavors encompasses sweet, spicy, and sour. Indeed, that was the route I intended to take when I started this dish with a traditional vaggar (tempering) of mustard seeds. I brought out the spicy flavor with cayenne pepper and red onion, and the burst of ground coriander added a pleasant floral sweetness.
Everything was happily remaining Gujarati till I decided to finish of the dish with a more northerly inspiration. Tindora also features in the Punjabi culinary tradition, and as I have grown up eating a lot of those foods, I thought nothing of adding a little garam masala to provide a greater depth of flavor. Hence, I created a marriage of western and northern Indian flavors, and with so few ingredients, this is definitely a meal accompaniment that any one can make in a jiffy.
Most Indians would probably tell you that tindora needs to be cooked for a long time, till it’s mushy. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but I feel that when you are combining this with a plate of rice and dal, as it is done in India, it makes a little more sense to leave it slightly crunchy, to provide a textural contrast. Also, overcooking vegetables leads to a major loss of nutrients, and if there is no health value left, is there even a point in eating it? Therefore, that is how I like my tindora, but I leave it to you do discover how you will like your own.
- 1 pound tindora, fresh or frozen, sliced in half
- 1 small red onion, chopped fine or in slivers
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, optional
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, optional
- salt to taste
In a wok or medium-sized saucepan, heat up some oil over high heat. Once it is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and temper them in the oil for a minute or two. Then add the onion and saute over medium-high heat, till the onions are softened and beginning to brown, 5 minutes. Then add the ground coriander and cook it with the onion for a minute or two. Add the tindora and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, till they are beginning to soften. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the tindora covered for 20 minutes if you want it crunchy, or 30 minutes if you want it soft and mushy. Season to taste with salt, and then add the garam masala and cilantro if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- You could make the tindora into a side dish or meal on its own by adding 2 chopped red potatoes and some water with the tindora. This would create more of a curry which you could eat with chapatis or rice.
- I have listed the garam masala and cilantro as optional ingredients because they are the fusion components of this dish. If you want your tindora to be all Gujarati, add some jaggery (Indian brown sugar) and a tomato to bring out those sweet and sour flavors.
- Tindora in the United States is found mostly frozen in Indian grocery stores and larger supermarkets, but if you are likely you might be able to find the fresh variety when it is in season. Look around in different markets, and ask you local Indian grocer if they are expecting any tindora shipments in the near future.
- If you can’t find tindora at all, this preparation would also work well with green beans or even artichokes.