There is a special feeling associated when cooking with seasonal vegetables and I find that such special vegetables have a unique taste that complements the season they come around in. We are fortunate here in the UAE to have most vegetables and fruits all year round but some say those are from cold stores and so neither fresh nor a match for the season. Some specialty stores do however import fruits and vegetables that are in season in their countries of origin. One such store close to our home is a Pakistani store. And among other seasonal veggies I spotted some tinday, as we like to call them, but you can call them round gourd or apple gourd.
I remember a while back a cousin’s wife had made a particularly tasty version of tinday and I thought I’d give it a try to see if I could make something like her version. We were invited to a dinner at their house and you know how you feel when there is a table loaded with different kinds of food, you don’t know where to start!! My first instinct to take very small amounts of food so I can decide what I like best and have more of that. The winner that night was hands down the tinday, although to be fair my sister in law is a great cook and everything else on the menu was also delicious. But the tinday stood out mostly because I don’t think I excpected them to be any good. They are a pretty bland vegetable to be honest.
Flashback over! In the present I wasn’t able to connect with my sister in law directly to get the recipe from her but I tried to replicate it as best I could from memory and my mother’s vast culinary experience. I’m not certain if I achieved what I set out to do; that is copy a recipe, but I have to say that Mr. Mazhar and I were very impressed with my effort. My recipe for tinday tasted absolutely, mind-blowing, lip-smacking, making you want to overeat kind of good!!
So here goes… I know most people are not keen on vegetables but if you can muster the strength do try this on a small scale perhaps and I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it. Happy cooking everyone!!!
- 4 small round gourds/tinday, peeled, tops cut off and hollowed out
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large or 2 medium onion, finely sliced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 2 green chilies, de-seeded and finely sliced
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 tsp dried parsley or fresh coriander, finely sliced, for garnish
- To start, wash the tinday well, dry them off and then cut off their tops to have a flat surface area, where you can then insert a small dessert spoon to scoop out the seeds and flesh of the gourd. Do this step with a little patience and be careful not tear through or puncture the gourd. Once the fill in is cooked we will be putting it back into the round gourd cups. It looks beautfiu presentation wise but tastes nice too.
- In a medium pot or saucepan, heat the oil on a medium flame, once hot, add in the onions and cook them till they are translucent and slightly golden and crispy on the edges. We are not looking to brown the onions just cooking them enough to release their flavour and add some texture to the recipe.
- Now add in the tomatoes and the flesh and seeds of the hollowed gourds along with the red chilli powder, turmeric, salt and green chilies. Please adjust the level of spicy heat that suits your palate. Cook for 5-7 minutes or as long as it takes for the tomatoes to release all their moisture and turn the mix into a gravy like consistency.
- Turn down the flame to low, carefully place the hollowed round gourds into the gravy, arrange them so that they are not crowded together. Pour in about 1 cup of recently boiled water in the pot and close the lid. This will allow the tinday to steam and cook through while taking in the flavour of the gravy. Check the pot after 10 minutes and every few minutes after that you will notice that the tinday change colour from pale white to translucent green. Add more water if the gravy seems to be drying out but the gourds don’t look cooked through. When you notice this change in color spoon into the gourds gravy all the way to the top. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Take it off the heat, sprinkle over the garam masala and squeeze in the lemon juice till you are happy with the salty and sour notes of the dish. I liked the tanginess of the lemon so I added a little extra. Very gently pick up the gourds with a large spoon and place them in your serving dish in the arrangement you would like to serve them because it will not be easy to move them again only for the fear of breaking them open since the gourds will be quite soft now.
Garnish with parsley or coriander, whichever is readily available and serve. Dinner is ready to be eaten with some hot rotis. It’s quite a simple recipe but delivers high on taste. Do give it a try and share your experiences with me. I’d love to hear how yours turned out and how you liked them. Enjoy!