In a recent ‘Foodstuffs’ post, I introduced an item, common in Indian cookery but new to me, called Tindora. I searched for and found quite a few Tindora recipes and was inspired to try the above dish which is something of an amalgam of a few of them but otherwise a unique creation. Although the flavours are quite unmistakably Indian in character, the cooking style is more in the nature of a Chinese stir-fry. I love Indian food but I find that vegetables are often cooked far too well for my taste so, in this dish, I flash-fried things very quickly to preserve the fresh taste and crunchy mouthfeel of the Tindora. The term ‘masala’, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, is commonly used in Indian cookery to refer to a spice blend and I will be dealing it with masalas at greater length in future posts.
By the way… in my original introduction to Tindora, I mentioned reading that eating the fruit when it has turned red inside is supposed to be bad for you (actually causing ‘brain-death’ according to some reports). As you can see above, I came across one that appears to be quite reddish inside, as contrasted with the green slice included for comparison. I take the reports of ‘brain-death’ with a grain of salt myself but, just to be on the safe side, I didn’t include the red slices in my creation 🙂
I used about 15 or so of fairly large size Tindora sliced in quarters length-wise. The small dishes, listed clock-wise from the top-left contain the following:
- A half-teaspoon of Patak’s Hot Curry Paste, diluted in 2 tablespoons of water;
- Dried red chili peppers left whole;
- Salted peanut halves; and,
- Whole cumin and black mustard seed.
I forgot to include salt in the photograph because I forgot to include it as an ingredient while cooking (which I meant to do) and I ended up adding a sprinkle to the dish as I was eating. I also used about two tablespoons of vegetable oil for cooking along with an additional two tablespoons of water during the flash-frying.
I heated the vegetable oil to the smoking point, tossed in the seeds and the chili, the peanuts a few seconds later, and stirred everything rapidly for a few more seconds before adding the Tindora. I stir-fried the Tindora until it turned a nice bright green and then added the additional water to create a bit of steam. Once the water had evaporated, I added the paste mixture, tossed everything to coat, and then plated it. I am sorry I could not include a picture of the cooking but the process was far too quick to allow that. The preparation took a total of fifteen minutes, including arranging the ingredients and photographing them, whilst the actual cooking took no more than a minute and a half, or so.
This dish was even more tasty the I expected and I ate it alone without any rice alongside. I initially wanted to use slivers of sweet red pepper for colour (and some crushed chill pepper for heat) but bad weather had interrupted cargo flights at home for several days and I couldn’t find any sweet peppers at either of the two local stores that usually carry them. Fortunately, the scorched chill taste of the whole dried peppers worked very well with the toasty cumin and fried-peanut flavour. The Tindora were nicely crunchy and the freshness came through very well against the masala paste background. If you are tempted to try this dish yourself, resist the impulse to overdo the spices, especially the curry paste, as the Tindora is very delicate and would be easily overwhelmed.
In future, I would like to try this dish with the red sweet pepper as originally intended and I think that using mustard oil instead of vegetable oil would work well too. If I was to include it as a side-dish in an Indian feast I might cook the Tindora just a little bit longer to make them more tender and soft as they would normally be in a more traditional Indian recipe.