Thursday, May 7, 2009


While in Jackson Heights for the Indian buffet on Saturday, I saw a vegetable at Patel Bros. that I'd never seen before, and so I bought a sackful to try.

Tindora only appears briefly in my Julie Sahni Indian cookbooks, in a survey of Indian vegetables at the very beginning of the book. It promises that recipes will follow, and to check the index, but no such recipes are evident. As such, I kind of had to wing it when I made tindora last night.

Tindora look like small cucumbers, but they can't really be eaten raw--the white spongy inside would be gross. Some Internet research informed me that they were spoiled--and possibly poisonous, causing "brain fever" (um, sure)--when they were red inside, and upon cutting them open, I did find several red tindora (bottom of the photo) and threw them away. Frustratingly, they felt and smelled and looked exactly like the good ones on the outside, so I have no idea how people select nonspoiled ones.

No big deal--I only had a few spoiled pods. I cut the remaining pods into quarters (I did some like pickle spears and some into four flat slices, to see which fried up better) and fumbled through a basic Indian-ish method of cooking them. I brown-fried some thin-sliced onions in oil, then added some finely chopped garlic/ginger/chiles; after a few minutes of cooking that, I added some turmeric and coriander, stirred, and added the tindora. Near the end, I added some salt and chopped cilantro. I purposely left the tindora a little crunchy, as per some advice I read online, but I could easily have made them mushy by adding a little water and cooking it off.

They were really good! Not a distinctive flavor, but something fresh and vegetabley, like squash in a way. I'd love to make them again as a side at some point. (P.S.: Although it was more effort, slicing them into four flat, thin slices was better than the quartered spears).

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