Tinda gets its English name from its visual similarity to green apples. A member of the gourd family, tinda has a mild flavor, high water content and lots of vitamins/minerals. The vegetable is ubiquitous in Delhi – at arm’s reach in the local market, cooked every other day in office cafetarias. Not so in Bangalore. Here this gourd graces only in the bigger stores, cellophaned and stocked with imported veggies like yellow peppers and Chinese cabbage.
I didn’t know I’d crave for tinda till it became scarce. As with parval (pointed gourd), my love for this vegetable has been a recent change of heart. Whoever said that absence makes the heart grow fonder knew what he was talking about.
A simple and tasty pressure-cooker recipe for tinda masala. This involves very little cooking effort and is perfect for a calming dinner after a stressful workday.
- Tindas – 3 medium or 2 large
- Tomatoes – 1 large
- Onions – 2
- Red chilly powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – a pinch
- Garam masala – a pinch
- Salt – to taste
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Oil – 2 teaspoons
- Fresh coriander leaves – to garnish
Wash and scrape the skin off tinda. You needn’t peel thoroughly, light scraping with the edge of a knife will do.
If using small/medium sized tinda, cut each into 4 quarters. If larger, cut into 6 or 8 pieces. In fresh tindas, the insides would be soft and seeds small. [They should be smaller than a regular cucumber's seeds.] If the seeds look big/hard/yellowish, cut them out and discard.
Cut each onion in half through the root, then slice into half-rings. Chop tomatoes in a similar shape as tindas.
Heat two teaspoons of oil in a pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Follow with sliced onions. Let the onions turn golden-brown on medium flame. Keep stirring to avoid charring.
Add tinda next. Continue to cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the dry powders – cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilly. Mix well.
Add chopped tomatoes, garam masala and salt. Cook for another two minutes, stirring regularly.
Add a tablespoon of water. Close lid. Let the tinda cook for 2 whistles on low flame. Open lid when the pressure has released naturally.
The tinda pieces should be cooked just enough to retain shape in the dish, yet give way under gentle pressure from a spoon.
Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves. Serve tinda masala with rice/chapatis and raita.