Indian Ivy Gourd is a widely consumed vegetable, available in India through out the year. Called Dondakaya (Telugu) or Tindora/Tondli (Hindi), these cute looking small, stubby, green colored vegetables which grow aggressively on vines are used to prepare delicious stuffed curries, stews, pickles, salads and stir fries.
To many, dondakaya is an unusual vegetable, not very common, unlike in our parts of India where its pretty popular. You will find extremities with regard to the popularity of dondakaya, where one either hates this vegetable or just loves it. I, for one love this vegetable and prepare it regularly at home and why not, its available in abundance, fresh, cheap, healthy and tasty.
I have looked up the internet and came up with the common names by which Ivy Gourds are known in other languages as well as some interesting information about this vegetable.
- Scientific Name- “Coccinia Grandis”,
- Ivy Gourd, Gentleman’s Toes (English)
- Dondakaya, Dondakai (Telugu)
- Tondakayi (Kannada)
- Vargoli (Hindi)
- Tindora, Ghiloda (Gujarati)
- Tondli, Tendli (Marathi)
- Kovakkai (Malayalam)
- Kovaikai (Tamil)
- Goli (Rajasthani)
- Kundru (Utter Pradesh)
- Dondakaya or Tondli is a small oblong shaped, smooth skinned, light green to dark green shade, abundantly available Indian vegetable
- Has a mild sour flavor with a crunchy juicy texture
- Has medicinal value and used widely in Traditional Thai and Ayurvedic Medicine
- Contains beta-carotene and a good source of protein and fiber
- Medical Research suggests that gherkins may suppress the activity of certain enzymes involved in glucose production, such as G-6-phosphatase and helps control diabetes
In Andhra, ivy gourds are abundantly available and, Dondakaya Vepudu (stir fry dish) and Gutti Dondakaya Kura ( a stuffed dish) are popular preparations, of course this humble looking vegetable is cooked along with other vegetables to prepare stews like avial etc.
There are many variations to the dondakaya fry, depending on the region its being prepared.Today’s recipe is Dondakaya Vepudu, a popular Andhra style preparation, where the finely sliced gherkins are infused with a tempering of fresh curry leaves and mustard seeds and stir fried in a coarse powder of roasted dry red chillis, cumin seeds and peanuts.
This stir-fry recipe is simple, though the preparation part of slicing the gherkins is time-consuming, but worth the effort. The dondakaya stir-fry has a nice crunchy texture with a mild spice-sweet nutty flavor due to the red chillis and peanuts and goes well with steamed white rice.
Dondakaya Vepudu – Tondli Stir- Fry Recipe
Recipe source: Amma
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 3-4 persons
250 gms /1/4 kg Dondakayalu / Tondli / Ivy Gourds
½ tsp mustard seeds
10-12 fresh curry leaves
pinch of turmeric pwd
salt to taste
1 ½ tbsp oil
1-2 tbsp roasted peanuts (garnish)
To be roasted in oil and ground to a coarse pwd:
few drops of oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chillis – remove stalk, tear into two and de-seed (adjust according to your spice level)
1 1/2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 Wash the dondakayalu and nip the tip and tail ends. Slit each gherkin into two, length wise, as shown in the picture and slice them into thin long strips.
2 Heat a few drops of oil in a cooking vessel. Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium flame, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter and turn brown. Add the red chillis and fry for a few seconds stirring continuosly. Turn off heat and cool. Once cool, add roasted peanuts to this roasted spice mix and grind to make a coarse pwd.
3 Add oil in the same pan and heat it till hot. Reduce to medium flame and add the mustard seeds, let them splutter. Add the curry leaves ,stir them till the aroma come out.
4 Immediately add the sliced dondakayalu and combine. Add salt and turmeric pwd and mix well. Saute on medium heat for 3-4 minutes , keep sauteing them so that it doesn’t burn. Now reduce to low flame and let it cook covered till soft, approx 12-15 minutes. Keep checking inbetween, sauteing them so that they dont burn. The sauteed dondakayalu lose moisture and begin to have a wrinkled appearance and turns to a deeper color.
5 Don’t overcook the dondakayalu, they should retain that, slight crunchy texture. Add the ground coarse pwd at this stage and combine well and let it cook, uncovered for another 2 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat.
Tips while preparing/cooking ivy gourds:
1.Wash your hands immediately on chopping them as it stains and tends to be sticky.
2.Nip off the top and tail part of the ivy gourd before chopping / stuffing /cooking them.
3.Use only the tender green color ivy gourds where the seeds are tender and not very mature, the very mature ivy gourds, though appear green on the outside, have a bright red color on the inside and are very sour and are best discarded.
4.Its best to serve them immediately on cooking as it has a crunchy texture and nice color which might not be the case if made ahead and served after a few hours of cooking, especially with stir-fries and stuffed curries. The taste is the same though, whether served immediately on cooking or after a couple of hours of cooking.
5. Ivy gourds can be used raw in salads, steamed, curried, stuffed, pickled, stir-fried and deep fried. Can be cooked with other vegetables or on its own.