Cooking in season is nothing new for people in Pakistan. Instead, it’s a way of life.
Now, that’s not to say that the fast food giants and processed foods aren’t creeping into the Pakistani diet at an alarming rate. They are but for the most part, most families still are preparing meals using what’s being harvested within 100 miles of their home.
On a recent trip to Pakistan I watched my mother-in-law Fazeelat carefully carving out the inside of what is called a tinda squash here in Lahore. A tinda squash is actually a small, green gourd that’s in season in May and June. They look somewhat like a green apple, with soft fuzzy hairs on the green rind and white flesh inside. They grow on four to five foot vines and are ready for harvest in 70 days. They are also called Indian round gourds, apple gourds or Indian baby pumpkins.
Families wait for them every year. Fazeelat begins cooking tinday (plural of tinda) by first washing and peeling the small gourds, and then cutting off the top and carving a small hole in the top of each to fill with spices before it’s cooked. “We have always made it like this every year ever since I was a child. I would watch my mother preparing it this way, and now I see my daughter-in-law Kiran doing the same. We’re passing down recipes, generation to generation, season by season,” said Fazeelat.
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chili
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- A pinch of dried coriander
- 1 kg (roughly 2 pounds) of tinda gourd
Peel the tinday and cut off the tops. Carve small hole in the center of each tinda.
Saute the tinda that is carved out with a little oil. Set aside. Mix together the remaining ingredients which will make up the masala portion of this recipe. Fill each tinda with a small amount of masala. Add the remaining masala to the sautéed tinda. (If you have no more masala mixture, then mix up a bit more to add to the sautéed tinda.) Carefully place stuffed tinday in a large, deep frypan with a lid, with stuffed center facing up. Top with one to two cups of water and cook on medium high for roughly 15 minutes or until tinday are tender.
We enjoyed ours with both basmati rice and with homemade, whole grain chapatti (flat bread cooked on a tawa, a cast iron griddle).
Planting your garden and want to plant some tinda gourds? You can get seeds at kitazawa seed company online at https://www.kitazawaseed.com/
Need a visual on to how to make tinday masala? Check out this video. Although the narration is in Urdu, the non-Urdu speaker will still benefit from watching the technique.
Artisans, family and friends in Pakistan continue to share recipes with us and so we happily share them with you.