It's Not Too Late

It's not too late to share good wishes for the New Year! In my opinions, it's never ever too late to share good wishes for anything.

Our New Year's Card
May the banyan tree of life bring you peace, comfort, and joy, with a healthy dose of excitement and intrigue in 2016! Happy New Year to you, my friends!

We spent eight days of our winter break in Hawaii. All of us had vacation or leave scheduled but we didn't know where we were going until 10 days before our time off from being slaves to schedules started. I wanted to go to Machu Picchu. D wanted to go to Costa Rica. Medha wanted to go somewhere, anywhere. Hawaii just sort of happened. After polling friends and family, we zeroed in on Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii. We had reservations for our stay and tickets to a island-hopper flight, and that was it. It sounds kind of crazy to those who need to schedule every minute of their vacation but we like our vacations to be laid-back, without the need for yet another vacation to recover from our vacation. I always need downtime to recover from hurtling through the air in a metal tube and, this time, I had built that into my time off from work.

Sunrise at Nukolii Beach
A Kauai sunrise

Kalalau Lookout
Rainbows and cliffs galore

Waimea Canyon
Even a canyon, Waimea Canyon

Like everyone else before me, I have always wanted to visit Hawaii. The vegetation is quite outlandish. Everything grows on top of everything else. Tall trees, huge ferns with giant fiddleheads, and at least three different types of creepers smothering those tall trees. Even road signs and lampposts are not spared.

Several of my favorite vegetables and fruits are grown in Hawaii. Two of them, guava and ivy gourd, are considered invasive and another, sugarcane, is no longer cultivated and grows wild by the roadside.

Harvesting a few stalks of sugarcane

I really wanted to see ivy gourd vines but it was either not the season or I don't know how to recognize this plant. It grows along fences and while it is considered pretty for its flowers and its ripe red fruit, it is really the unripe green fruit that is valued in Indian and South East Asian cuisines. Ivy gourd has been incorrectly called Indian gherkin on many food blogs. It is not a gherkin. Adding a prefix of Indian does not make it tendli, tondli or kundru. So please, just stop.

Ivy gourd or tendli or tondli in Marathi, kundru in Hindi

Many recipes call for steaming of the little plump gourds before seasoning with spices. Some folks pressure-cook this poor vegetable to death before cooking with it. I am a fan of its crunch and prefer to not pre-cook it.

Prepping tendli is the most laborious part of making this vegetable side. Each little plump gourd must be prepped thus: top and tail, slice into two along its length, julienne each half into 4-5 pieces depending on the thickness of each half.

Prepping ivy gourd

Discard the ivy gourd if it is pinkish or reddish on the inside. As the fruit ripens, it softens and turns red from the inside out. As it ripens, it also develops a slightly sour taste that is not very pleasant. It won't kill you if you eat it though.

Prepped and ready to be cooked

Potatoes, the universal extender, are a must. Peel and slice them to an even thickness, like french fries, and a length that is about the same as the length of the ivy gourd. Please use waxy potatoes. Baking potatoes are not ideal for Indian cooking.

sliced like french fries

You could also slice the ivy gourd along its width to make rounds. In that case, dice the potatoes into small cubes. What follows is one of my favorite ways to cook this dish, tendlichi bhaji.

The key to making this delicious is to get the phodni right, by not overheating the oil and not burning the whole as well as powdered spices. Since I like the ivy gourd to be crunchy, I cook the potatoes until they are almost done and only then add the sliced tendli. If you aren't a fan of crunchy vegetables, add them at the same time.

cook the potatoes until almost done

Add sliced tendli

Tendlichi Bhaji (Ivy gourd)

  • 2 heaped cups sliced ivy gourd (approximately 10oz whole)
  • 2 heaped cups sliced potatoes (approximately 4 medium red potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • a pinch of asafetida or hing
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chile powder or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1-2 tsp amchur
  • 1 tsp salt or more to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a medium kadhai or saucepan until it shimmers. Do not bring it to smoking point.
  2. Add mustard seeds and when they pop, add asafetida and quickly add turmeric powder and red chile powder.
  3. Immediately add sliced potatoes and mix to coat the potatoes with the seasoned oil.
  4. Add half the salt, stir occasionally and cook uncovered on medium heat until the potatoes are almost done but not quite. About 7-10 minutes.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, grind cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a fine powder.
  6. Add sliced ivy gourd and mix.
  7. Add powdered cumin and coriander mixture. Also add sugar, if using, amchur powder and remaining salt. Mix well.
  8. Cook covered on medium-low for 7-10 minutes until the ivy gourd is cooked but still crunchy. Stir occasionally to prevent the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Adjust seasonings, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rotis.

  • If you don't have amchur, you could add a dash of lemon juice towards the end.
  • You could use any vegetable that will hold its own and not release any juices instead of ivy gourd. I make okra the same way but cut the vegetable along its width and dice the potatoes into small cubes.


Anjali Koli said...

It's a wonderful veggie for diabetics, helps lower blood sugar.

Indian Food Rocks said...

Thanks, Anjali, I did not know that!

anna in spain said...

Wonderful, beautiful photos as always! I've always wanted to see Hawaii. Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s I remember a college friend of my oldest sister airmailed my mother a pineapple, some sugar cane and hibiscus blossoms. It was all new to us--imagine, pineapple that didn't come in a can of syrup!
Never heard of Ivy Gourd, but if I see it here I will grab some. Recently I've been eating a lot of lotus root you have any delicious recipes for lotus root?

I hope you got my email...I'm sorry I got so confused. Hope I didn't confuse you too much!

Indian Food Rocks said...

Anna, I did get your email and had a good belly laugh! I will reply soon. I thought I could bring some sugarcane back with us but luckily, my husband looked up Hawaii's regulations before we flew out and did not allow me to pack any fresh fruit or vegetables in my bags!

I haven't cooked with lotus root. I will let you know if I find any interesting recipes. Stay well, my friend!

Jenn Marie said...

Looks delicious. There's a restaurant near us that serves it regularly on the buffet, but I haven't hunted for it in stores.

Herbs Spices and Tradition said...

Nice clicks of Hawaii, I like this recipe, I enjoy this green vegetables with potatoes as well, we call it parmal. My daughter Rachna introduced me your blog, I liked your facebok page also.
Nice to meet a veteran blogger like you.

Anita said...

Happy New Year! It's never too late!

The gourd season will be upon us soon. I've never cooked them with potatoes before! Imagine that.

Unknown said...

Looks delicious but unfortunately we don't get it where we live....good to see another recioe from you though!

Molly said...

Manisha - do you have another name for the vegetable? I'd like to try and grow some this summer, but I need to find some seeds.... Alternatively, do you know where I could get some seed? I'll happily share the fruit! So far I've looked on and - but don't think I see it.

Anonymous said...

The first time I tried tendlichi bhaji, I overcooked it. Then stumbled across your blogpost. And now I can cook it almost perfectly!