[Ivy Gourd, Indian Gherkin; Scarlet Gourd; Pepino Cimarron (Spanish); Hong gua (China); Kovakka (Malay); Tindola, Giloda, Kundri, Kundru, Kunduzi, Kowai, Kovai,(India); Coccinia grandis]
A popular vegetable in India, this tiny gourd can now be found in Indian markets in California and elsewhere. Here it is always sold green, looking very much like a tiny cucumber, but in India it is also sometimes used in it's scarlet red mature stage.
Tindora can be eaten raw and are a lot more crunchy than cucumbers, or they
may be cooked as a side dish or may be pickled. When pickled they are
sometimes called "gherkin" but are easy to tell from the real
Gherkin and from cucumber gherkins by
their smooth skin. Typically they are between 2-1/2 and 3-1/4 inches long,
3/4 to 7/8 inch diameter and weigh around 5/8 ounce.
In parts of India folklore holds that eating red ripe tindora causes brain death but they are eaten that way in other parts by people who don't seem to suffer premature dementia. In California they are always sold in the much more popular green stage. If you want red ones you need to grow your own vines, which I understand is very easy to do - they grow like weeds and are in fact listed as weeds in Texas and Florida and "noxious weeds" in Hawaii. They are said to be quite sour when fully ripe.
Aside from being cooked alone they can be combined with other vegetables or can be used in salads as cucumber would be, or just serve them whole as refreshing munchies.
Buying: Find these in some Indian markets. Of the cluster of 5 Indian markets on Pioneer in Artesia only one has them regularly but I've heard they are available in Chicago also. Look for dark green gourds between 2-1/2 and 3-1/4 inches long, firm and without dark spots or yellowing at the ends.
Storing: These are fairly perishable. keep them in a paper bag in the fridge and use them within a week.
Cooking: They should not be overcooked but should still have a fair amount of their crunchiness when served. They should be served immdiately when finish cooking or they may loose their crunchiness.