How many of you like dondakaya/tindora/ivy gourd ? I know I love it! But this vegetable has such a tarnished reputation and powerful lobbyists who saw to it that it never showed up at any home with school going kids, atleast in Andhra they succeeded. It was told to induce dullness as opposed to the ladysfinger which could turn you into a Math wiz (!!). So every mother would sneak in bhendakaya/ladysfinger as often as she probably could and relegate the dondakaya to an occasional day far far away from any Math exam. The poor guy could not fight all that bad energy :( But now that I am done with all schooling, I am going to enjoy this dish in peace :) (and hey! its actually not bad for you)
The ivy gourd is a very versatile vegetable and it cooks in a jiffy. You can use it in a simple stir-fry like I did, or go for an elaborate stuffed version or an usli preparation. you can either use it in a traditional kootu or in a masala gravy or even in a fried rice, the options are just endless. In Hyderabad, you are most certain to find the dondakaya vepudu with a good amount of cashews thrown in, at every wedding menu.
My mom usually made the stir-fry/vepudu with it and thats my favorite way of eating it too. She would cut them into discs and not length-wise. I think the shape you cut it does change the texture of the dish. The discs cook faster, evenly and are crisp and tender at the same time. When cut length wise I think the chances of thicker pieces are more and I just hate biting into an undercooked piece, okay, I am just biased towards the discs (Mom's always rule) :) and so the frozen tindora is not something that I like. Whenever I get access to fresh dondakaya this is how I cook it,
- 3 cups - Dondakaya/Tindora/kovakkai
- 1/2 Tbsp - Oil
- 2 tsp - Mustard seeds
- 2 tsp - Channa dal and urad dal (I like the crunch they give, you can adjust the qty accordingly)
- Pinch of Asafoetida/Hing/Inguva
- 1 tsp - Turmeric powder
- 2 tsp - Chilli powder or to taste
- Salt to taste
- Wash and dice the ivy gourd as per your preference :D. Place a wide pan with the oil on medium heat.
- Splutter the mustard seeds, add the dals and allow them to brown. Add the hing, turmeric and the cut gourd to the pan and saute.
- Add the salt and cover and cook for about 6-8mins. Stir in between to avoid burning any of the pieces.
- Once they are tender to the touch, uncover the pan and cook for 5 more minutes to crisp up the pieces. Add the chilli powder towards the end and mix well.
I love anything that is tangy and my personal favorite is an onion pulusu that my mom makes using sambar powder. This one is very similar to that but the freshly ground spices lend the kuzhambu a nice texture and taste..yummmy. The combo of the kuzhambu and vepudu was great. I was actually planning on taking this for lunch the next day, but once I tasted the tangy kuzhambu I had to serve myself some immediately. Do try it out!
Happy Thursday and have a great weekend !