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Tindora, botanical name Coccinia grandis, is a tropical climbing vine that is both cultivated and found growing wild. It is cultivated for its edible shoots and fruits, but it is also considered an extremely evasive vine as it escapes cultivation easily and spreads vigorously, creating harmful vegetation effects. A member of the Cucurbitaceae family, Tindora has several other common vernacular names that vary by region, specifically Dondakaya, Scarlet gourd, Ivy gourd, Kovakka, Tendli and Tondi.
Tindora's fruits are ovoid to ellipsoid in shape and so petite they are often referred to as a "berry". They range in size from 1" to 2 1/2" in length. Their skin is smooth with variegations of green and white. The translucent white flesh of the fruit resembles the appearance and flavor of a cucumber, bearing countless seeds that develop a red hue. The flesh is both crunchy and succulent in texture with a mildly bitter aftertaste. Mature fruits become soft and develop a sweeter quality. Depending on variety, a mature Tindora fruit's skin color can also become bright red. These varieties are commonly referred to as "Big Red".
Tindora is grown for its nutritional and medicinal benefits as well for its culinary purposes. It is a good source of several micronutrients, including Vitamin A and beta carotene. It has been shown to have hypoglycemic and antioxidant properties. It has also been used medicinally in Ayurvedic practices in India as an anti-oxidant, anti-triglyceride, and anti-bacterial. Tindora has been used to treat jaundice, abscesses and high blood pressure.
Tindora is often added to curries, stir fries and used as a main ingredient in chutneys. It can be eaten raw as a salad vegetable, however the addition of vinegar and sugar can reduce or remove any bitter aftertaste the fruit may impart. Tindora can also be fermented, pickled and even candied when ripe. The small cucurbit relative can be stuffed, despite its size; cut in half and scrape out the seeds, stuff with masala or another filling. Tindora naturally absorbs accompanying flavors. It pairs well with ginger, garlic, chiles, stewed meats and vegetables, baked fish, coconut cream, peanuts, pickling spices such as mustard and corriander, light-bodied vinegars, and aromatics such as cumin and cilantro. The leaves, shoots and stems are used as pot herbs in soups or served in rice dishes.
Tindora is limited in culinary use primarily to Indian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines.
Tindora plants are native to tropical Africa and Asia. Since their first cultivation, Tindora has been introduced as a food crop in the Far East, the Caribbean, Southern United States and the South Pacific, including Hawaii, where it is listed as a noxious weed as it will inevitably invade natural habitat. It is easily dispersed by both animals and humans, establishes easily and can grow up to four inches per day. There are several varieties of Tindora but regardless of variety, they prefer tropical and subtropical climates.
Recipes that include Tindora. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Tickling Palates||Kovakkai Curry|
|Monsoon Spice||Spicy and Crispy Tindora Roast|
|Sailu's Kitchen||Dondakaya Vepudu - Tindora Stir Fry|
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