Tinda Do Pyaza (Indian Apple Gourd With Double The Onions!)
It recently struck me that blogging has changed me in ways I never realised. For one thing, I have become a lot more adventurous in my forays into the world of food. Earlier, if I went to the market, it would take a lot of persuasion to make me even consider buying a vegetable or fruit I’d never seen before especially when it really had nothing much to recommend it appearance-wise. After all, it’s not for nothing that it is said that the first impression is the best impression, though some will argue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But four years and some of blogging means that I’m willing to take a risk with vegetable/ fruit I haven’t eaten before. I can always make it the “hero” or maybe have it share the credit line with another ingredient in some recipe, or else disguise it or give it an “under cover” role in some dish. And if nothing else works, I can always have it pose or model for a food photography shoot!
Take the example of “Tinda” or the Indian Apple Gourd (also known as the Indian Baby Pumpkin). It’s been cooked and eaten in North Indian homes for ages, but I didn’t know of its existence till I saw it at my vegetable/ fruit market last week. I have a vague feeling my mother might have cooked it at some point in my childhood because this would be something my father would have loved eating. He had a love for unusual or odd tasting vegetables, and the more “exotic” they got the better he liked them.
Most vegetables in the “gourd” family are not favourites of mine with the exceptions bitter gourd, pumpkin and cucumber. My cousin refers to the Tinda as “yet another member of that despicable family - cucurbitaceae!!”
The Tinda/ Indian Apple Gourd is a rather unattractive vegetable the size of an apple, seemingly in an identity crisis. To my mind, it resembles a small green pumpkin that decided it wanted to be something else but couldn’t choose between being a tomato and a green apple!
I wasn’t too sure what to cook with this and went hunting for ideas on the net. All I could find were recipes for subzis (almost gravy less curries) or for stuffing the Tinda with masala, which I didn’t want to make. So I decided to cook them in a “do pyaaza” creation of my own to serve with chappathis for lunch.
“Do Pyaaza” is a North Indian way of cooking certain dishes using twice the amount of onions usually used (“do” meaning two and “pyaaza from pyaaz which means onions). This gives the “Do Pyaaza” a nice hint of sweetness from the caramelisation of so much onion. By and large, gourds tend to be tasteless or bland and usually take on the taste of whatever you cook them with, but I thought it would be a safe bet to use a large amount of onions with the Tinda, just in case it needed some “disguising”. I also added some frozen peas which were sitting in my freezer begging to be used.
We were quite surprised at how nice this dish turned out, especially because we’re not really great fans of the more bland variety of gourds which the Tinda seems to resemble. Seeing how good this dish turned out, I might be tempted to buy some more and see what else I can cook up with this vegetable next.
- Wash and cut the tinda/ gourds in half and scoop out the seeds if mature. If they’re very tender leave them in. Chop the gourds (each half into halves or slice them to 3 or 4 pieces) and then cook them till tender along with the peas in the microwave. This is how I cook my vegetables as it shortens my cooking time overall and also the vegetables keep their colour and do not turn mushy. If you don’t use the microwave, just keep them aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok, and add the cumin seeds. Stir a couple of times and then add the onions and sauté them till they become soft and transparent but not brown. Now add the tomatoes and let them cook till soft, stirring occasionally.
- Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander and cumin powder and stir fry well till the raw smell of the spices disappears. If it looks like the “masala” is turning dry in the wok, add a couple of tbsps. of water and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Now add the microwaved vegetables and salt to taste and cook everything on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes. If you’re adding the vegetables raw, also add about 1/2 a cup of water and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low and allow the vegetables to cook till done but not mushy, stirring when needed.
- Take of the heat when done and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm as a side dish with chappathis, parathas or rice.