A popular side dish with kovakkai or ivy gourd

Kovakkai, as it is known as in Tamil, is also known by different names — ivy gourd, tendli in Marathi, dondakaaya in Telugu and tindora in Hindi. It is a perennial herbaceous vine. Ivy gourd is a tropical plant belonging to the pumpkin family and is an aggressive climber that can spread quickly over trees, shrubs, fences and other supports. India and Pakistan have massive plantations of this vegetable, apart from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ivy gourd has been classified as a herb in Thai and ayurvedic medicine. The parts used in diabetes treatment are the leaves, but the primary use of ivy gourd is culinary, and it is considered a vegetable. Ivy gourd contains beta-carotene, a major Vitamin A source essential for good eyesight; and Vitamin C which helps prevent common cold and flu. It is also considered a good source of protein and fibre. In traditional medicine, the fruits have been used to treat leprosy, fever, asthma, bronchitis and jaundice.

Consuming 50 gm of ivy gourd daily could help keep blood sugar under check. Some research also supports its use as an antioxidant, anti-hypoglycaemic agent and immune system modulator. The fruit is also known to have anti-histamine properties. The leaves are used as a poultice in treating skin eruptions.

Now, for a recipe.

Kovakkai Fry

Ingredients

Kovakkai: 500 gm

Chopped onion: 100 gm

Chopped tomatoes: 50 gm

Red chilli powder: 1 tbsp

Coriander powder: 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder: 1 tsp

Asafoetida: a pinch

Salt to taste

For tempering:

Oil: 100 ml

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Black gram dal: 1 tbsp

Curry leaves: 10 gm

Method: Wash and cut kovakkai lengthwise; slit into two pieces. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. After they crackle, add black gram dal (split urad dal), curry leaves and asafoetida. Add onions and sauté till translucent. Now add tomatoes and sauté for some time. Then add kovakkai, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and a little salt and sauté for about 10 minutes till the vegetable is cooked well. Serve hot with rice items.

Executive Chef

Vivanta by Taj Connemara

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