Tindora or Kundru is a common gourd, readily available almost throughout the year except the winter months in northern India. Called Ivy Gourd, this tiny vegetable is a tropical vine that is most common in southern and eastern Indian food. Not as common in the north, Kunrdu is nonetheless easy to cook and adaptable to various styles of cooking. It has several different names, as you can likely tell by the heading of this recipe. This Besan Tindora sabji takes a leaf out of another recipe, the Kurkuri Bhindi which is itself inspired by Rajasthani cooking.
Tindora – a refreshingly juicy gourd
I mentioned that North Indians don’t use this vegetable a lot. My parents cooked kundru rarely, while it might have been more common in my dadiji’s kitchen in Bhopal. Tindora sabji became a regular dish once we were introduced to Odiya food and later, when my parents moved to Hyderabad. It soon became apparent that it was easy to cook and refreshing in the hot dry climate of Andhra Pradesh. Ever since then it has been one of my favorites! I try to buy kundru as and when I can, though that isn’t too often in the US. If you live abroad, try your local Indian store or a specialty store. Some East Asian markets carry produce like this to cater to the diaspora.
Air Fryer Cooking – not oil free, but low fat
I make this recipe in the the air fryer using an Instant Pot Air Fryer lid for my 6-quart instant pot. While the air fryer is a time saver, it is not as many claim a sure shot way to make food oil free. Think of an air fryer as a mini oven with a fan. By circulating hot air fast and consistently within its small confines, it achieves the result of cooking food faster than other processes. That’s it! You will need some oil. Definitely convenient. But there are some things to be careful about. I watched this great video by CNA Insider about using an air fryer. They raised the issue of acrylamide formation. Acrylamide, what? Yes, my reaction precisely. Keep reading for tips that I’ve adopted after learning about this chemical.
- Acrylamide formation: at high temperatures some foods (mostly plant based foods, especially potatoes) form acrylamide as a result of one of the many Maillard reactions that happen while cooking. Certain cooking methods lead to this, such as high temperature roasting, frying and baking.
- Acrylamide is deemed carcinogenic and in the CNA video they find that even while using an air fryer or an oven to make potato chips at home we could be creating acrylamide. No, you should NOT stop making these foods.
- Adjust temperature and time instead to reduce the risk of generating acrylamide. Suggestions by both FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and scientists quoted by CNA include reducing the temperature while baking or roasting and instead increasing the time if necessary.
- Keep it golden, not charred! That’s the key for reduced acrylamide formation while frying/roasting potatoes and toasting bread. A good temperature range for the air fryer, courtesy CNA, which I have tried is 320 F to 350 F. If you use an air fryer, adopt these tips and do some reading for yourself.
Okay, enough of this, on to the Besan Tindora sabji recipe.
You will need an air fryer or a large frying pan.
Inactive cooking: 10-15 minutes of prep; Active cooking: 20 – 30 minutes
Ingredients for Tindora Sabji:
- Tindora/Kundru/Ivy Gourd ~ 2 lbs i.e 1 kg, cut into circles
- Besan ~ 3 to 4 tbsp
- Namak/Salt to taste
- Haldi/Turmeric ~ 1/2 tsp
- Laal Mirch/Red Chilli powder ~ 1/2 tsp
- Dhania/Ground Coriander powder ~ 1 tsp
- Kaali Mirch/ Black Pepper ~ couple cracks
- Olive oil spray (or apply oil to the air fryer container)
How to cook Besanwale Kundru:
If using an Instant Pot follow these instructions, if not then follow instructions from this post. It is very similar, the time might vary slightly.
To begin, wash the tindora and then dab them dry with a kitchen towel. Proceed to chop into discs that are about half an inch thick or less and as uniform as possible.
In a separate bowl measure besan, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander and black pepper. Mix well. Next, mix this into the chopped kundru. Do it in the same bowl, if large enough, or use a third larger vessel to coat all the chopped kundru with spiced besan.
Preheat the air fryer to 350 F. Some air fryers come with a preheat option. Mine does not. So I set the temperature and turn it on for 2-3 minutes. That’s it. Air fryers reach the desired temperature very quickly.
The oil used in this recipe is only for spraying on the air fryer basket to avoid stickage. That’s it. You could also spritz a bit of oil onto the kundru itself once its in the air fryer basket.
When the air fryer is ready, tip in the kundru. I was able to cook all in one batch. If the basket is small, do it in two batches. Close air fryer and set it for 10 minutes, at 350 F. Check at the end of this time, toss the kundru to turn them. They should be shriveled by now and starting to brown. Cook for another 5-10 minutes at 350 F to get a crisp texture.
That’s it! Besan Tindora is ready to eat. I love the tiny bits of besan that drop to the bottom of the instant pot. They crisp up really well and add extra crunch. Use these as garnish.
Besan Tindora Sabji
I served besanwale kundru with rice, dal tarka, a fresh green chilli topped off with that crunchy besan. These are delicious served with parathas or as part of an ensemble indian meal of dal, sabzi, dahi and salad. Make it!
Some cooking inspiration from the blog
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Besan Tindora Sabji – Crisp Air Fryer Kundru
- Air Fryer
- 2 lbs Tindora/Kundru/Ivy Gourd
- 3-4 tbsp Besan/gram flour can also use chickpea flour
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Chilli powder adjust to taste
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 2-4 cracks Black pepper
- Olive Oil spray or any cooking oil
- Wash and dry tindora. Chop into discs about half an inch thick or less, as uniform as possible.
- In a bowl measure besan, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander and black pepper. Mix well.
- Next, mix spiced besan into chopped kundru. Coat all the chopped kundru.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350 F.
- Spray oil into air fryer basket to avoid stickage.
- Lay kundru in air fryer basket in a uniform layer. Work in batches if necessary. Close air fryer and set it for 10 minutes, at 350 F. Check at the end of this time, toss the kundru to turn them. Cook for another 5-10 minutes at 350 F to get a crisp texture.
- Besan Tindora is ready to eat. Tiny bits of besan will drop to the bottom. They crisp up well. Use these as garnish. Serve with rice and dal or, dal, chapati/paratha and dahi.