Indian Shrimp Stir Fried with Tindora is a delicious and refreshing stir fry that makes use of my new favorite vegetable, tindora (also called Dondakaya, Scarlet gourd, Ivy gourd, Kovakka, Tendli and Tondi). Affiliate links have been used to link to items being discussed.
The more enthusiastic I am about cooking (or baking), the more enthusiastic I am about food blogging. This is not exactly newsworthy, but it is something I am struggling with. I have several dishes waiting in the wings to tell you about, so the material is there, but you know what is not there?
That’s right folks, I have no kitchen. Now in general this is clearly not a sob story, nor do I expect you to feel badly for me. I am super excited about the new kitchen. But in the meantime I barely feel like thinking about food. Which has turned into me procrastinating. Does it ever feel like as soon as you get a good routine going, that is exactly when something comes along to disrupt it?
Ah well. C’est la vie.
If you do having a working kitchen–and I sincerely hope you do–I cannot say enough good things about my latest Indian culinary discovery, tindora. Tindora is the “fruit” (botanically a fruit but used more like a vegetable) of a tropical climbing vine found in S.E. Asia and southern India. It goes by other names, including Dondakaya, Scarlet gourd, Ivy gourd, Kovakka, Tendli and Tondi. I was lucky enough to find some at my local Indian grocer, and, curious, I brought some home. I had no idea what I would do with it, but I was optimistic! First I had to identify it, but luckily I was able to, and stir fries were one of its recommended applications, so I went searching for a good Indian stir fry recipe to play with.
If you cannot find tindora (but I hope you try because it was seriously delicious), you might try either zucchini or baby cucumbers–if you opt for cucumbers, you might add them with the shrimp as they will not stand up to quite as much cooking as the tindora. If you substitute either, please report back and let us know how it turned out!
I decided to add my tindora to a shrimp stir fry that I adapted from a Holi celebration dish in Vivek Singh’s Indian Festival Feasts. Appropriately–and somewhat frustratingly for the food blogger part of me–the celebration in question (the cookbook had dishes from the many holidays celebrated with food in India) that the dish came from is Holi, which was celebrated on March 2 this year. And I actually made the dish in plenty of time for Holi, but not at all in plenty of time to get it posted before Holi. Between being backed up to start with, being gone for spring break, and now the kitchen being missing, I am seriously behind. But considering that Holi is the celebration of winter’s end and the return of spring, maybe it is fitting that I am only getting this post out now. Lord knows we have not seen much spring here in western Pennsylvania! Maybe this post will do the trick!
The entire family loved this dish. The best way to describe the tindora is as being similar to cucumber, if cucumber could stand up to being cooked a bit. It was quite fresh and crunchy. We did not find it bitter at all, although I read that it can be. I also read that acid can counteract that, so maybe the lemon and lime juice did the trick. The yogurt and mustard seeds were delicious on the shrimp; I often feel like dairy and shrimp can be a crapshoot, but it worked here. Whether you are already enjoying spring or living somewhere that spring is still being hoped for (yep that’s us!), this stir fry is a great meal to welcome the season!
Very loosely adapted from Vivek Singh.
- 1 T minced ginger
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1 t minced fresh red chili peppers (I used a fresh chile pepper paste)
- 1 t paprika (or cayenne if you can handle the heat)
- 2 T Greek yogurt
- Juice from half large lemon or one small
- Pinch salt
- 1-1 1/2 lbs of shrimp
- 3 T vegetable oil with high smoke point (I like avocado)
- 1 T black mustard seeds
- 15 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 T minced ginger
- 2 T minced garlic
- 1 t minced fresh chile pepper (I used fresh chile pepper paste)
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups tindora, sliced into tiny rounds
- marinaded shrimp
- Fresh lime or lemon wedges for garnish
The marinade is a quick marinade, so I recommend focusing first on the marinade, and then letting the shrimp marinate while you prep everything else.
Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients except the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a large, sealable plastic bag and then add the marinade. Gently massage the marinade into the shrimp, and then seal the bag and place it in the fridge.
Make sure all of your stir fry ingredients are prepped before you begin (onions are chopped, curry leaves counted, etc).
Place the vegetable oil and mustard seeds in a large, somewhat deep frying pan (a wok works obviously, as does a nonstick pan or a large cast iron pan; in India they would probably use a kadai). Turn the heat to high or medium high if high is too hot for the pan you are using (like nonstick). Partially cover the pan to allow the mustard seeds to pop without escaping the pan.
When the mustard seed popping slows, remove the lid and carefully add the curry leaves--stand back because they will splatter!
As soon as the splattering slows a bit, add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt. Begin stirring and moving the onions around the pan.
Keep stirring for 5 minutes on high heat, maybe closer to 10 on medium high. You want some good color on the onions.
Add the garlic, ginger and chile pepper with another pinch of salt. Stir for another 2 minutes.
Add the tindora with a pinch of salt. We loved the tindora tender but still crisp; stir fry for 3-5 minutes, depending on how thinly you sliced your tindora. Taste one before adding the shrimp--it should still be quite crisp but no longer taste raw.
Add the shrimp with any accumulated marinade. Toss and cook quickly--as soon as the shrimp curls closed and becomes opaque pink, they are cooked through. It will probably take 3 minutes or less, so be careful to not let them overcook and dry out.
Taste for more salt and then serve immediately with Basmati rice and wedges of lime or lemon.
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