“And what’s this Maa?”, she slowly runs her hand from the pile of Indian eggplants to the crate next to it, full of tiny fingerling potato shaped, green vegetable. “Its Tindora”, I responded hastily for my mind was distracted by the little monkey picking one tomato after the other, throwing them in our cart. We normally buy our fresh produce from our local farm stand not too far from the house but for some specific Indian vegetables we have to make a special trip to the Indian grocery store. I am not always excited about these trips because the Indian grocer does not carry organic vegetables which we prefer. But to find some special fruits and vegetables I grew up eating, trip to the Indian store is a must and worth it. Also a great opportunity for the girls to know more of what, why and how(s) of Indian cuisine and culture. This was one of those “educational” trips for her and I guessed tindora was what we were discussing today.
I quickly picked one, broke it from the middle to see whether it snapped, to check for its freshness. It was, so we packed the smaller, greener ones from the pile, into our bag while telling her how I hated this vegetable as a kid but slowly it turned to be one of my favorites. Probably because of the way my mum, her nani, cooked it. She wanted to give it a try. We decided this should be dinner. We came back home, I restocked the refrigerator while she washed the tindoras under fresh water. Little monkey munched on a couple, raw, while the butterfly and I prepped them for a stir fry.
She has an advanced palate for a 6 year old who would pick mussel soup over french fries any day but prefers cleaner flavors. So for her to try a vegetable for the first time I always cook them as simple as possible with as little ingredients as I can. For tindora I went my mum’s way and sautéed them simply with panch foran spices. Just to subtly perfume the vegetable without overpowering its innate flavors. When put on her plate, she made a face, was probably expecting it to look different? After a stern stare from me, picked up a few and tried them. Rest went untouched for the rest of her meal. Later that night, maybe she felt something, comes to me and admits, “the tiny green vegetable you made me eat, wasn’t that bad”. Since then tindora has become “the tiny green vegetable Maa makes me eat”, but we are beginning to like it better now. Baby steps at a time!
2 lbs Tindora (Ivy Gourd)
1 tablespoon panch foran spice (five spice blend)
2 tablespoon canola oil (or ghee)
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Wash tindora and cut them lengthwise into four.
Heat oil/ghee in a pan, add panch foran spice. As they sputter add tindora followed by turmeric. Sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat until the surface starts to turn golden.
Add salt and chili flakes. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stirring occasionally continue cooking until the tindora is cooked through, tender but not mushy. I try not to cover while cooking but you can occasionally do so, to speed up the cooking time. Ideally it should take another 8-10 minutes.