What’s that food?

This month’s WTF is a familiar fruit in Indian cuisine. With its smooth green skin and elongated shape, tindora bears a resemblance to cucumbers, albeit a tiny cucumber.

Like cucumber, tindora (Coccinia grandis) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and the fruit grow on vigorous climbing vines, native to tropical climes. The plant is commonly found in the southern Indian states and is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia. It was introduced as a food crop in southeast Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States, including Hawaii. Now considered invasive in Hawaii, Texas, Florida, and Australia, its growth is rapid, dense, and can quickly smother other plants. It has been known to grow up to 10 centimetres in a day and will grow to 4 metres high if left unpruned.

Tindora Sabzi is a simple dish to make photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty

Young tindora fruit is juicy, crunchy, and has a mild, slightly bitter aftertaste. The skin is edible and the inside flesh of the fruit is white with many edible seeds. As the fruit matures, it can become softer and sweeter. Depending on variety, the skin can also change to bright red. Generally the plant grows best in zones 7 or 8, so PEI may not be the greatest place to attempt growing this vine.

photo credit: Cheryl Young/Salty

Also referred to as scarlet gourd, ivy gourd, Pepasan, Hong gua, Pepino cimarrón, and tendli, tindora is frequently cooked in Indian dishes. Its crisp texture and mild flavour work well in heavily spiced dishes like curries and stir-fries. The fruit can be coated in spices and roasted as a side dish. It is often combined with lentils and coconut milk.

Usually tindora is not eaten raw, as it can be bitter. It is used heavily in Indian chutneys and pickles, as the addition of vinegar and sugar reduces its bitterness.

Tindora is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B, and beta-carotene.

Along with the fruit, the leaves, shoots, and stems are used as herbs in southeast Asia. The leaves have been known to be made into a paste and applied topically to help heal skin wounds caused by leprosy, psoriasis, and scabies.

You can buy fresh or frozen tindora photo credit: Cheryl Yong/Salty

Tindora fruit is perishable but will keep up to one week when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator. You can also purchase it frozen, allowing for longer storage.

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

View All Posts