Tinda Masala

October 16, 2009


Tinda Masala

The tinda masala is one of my favourite dishes at Tayyabs; certainly my favourite vegetarian dish and a no-brainer when it comes to ordering. The very first time I went there, I noticed it clinging on at the bottom of the menu and decided to try it as a sympathy order. When I put the first mouthful in my greedy gob however, there was no doubt that the dish was laughing in the face of my pity. I’ve only ever been served one disappointing tinda which, sadly, arrived after I’d been talking my mate’s ear off about it in the pub beforehand. It was watery, bland, lukewarm and all the worse for me bigging it up so much. Generally though those juicy little gourds are cooked on a fierce heat with a punchy, slightly sour sauce, the main ingredients of which Tayyabs insist are just garlic, ginger and chilli; I can’t blame them for not wanting to reveal their secrets.

I’ve seen fresh tinda around recently, but they always seem to look very tired. I cannot tell you the frustration this caused me until eventually, the canned ones stepped in to offer succour.  As soon as I opened that tin, I got a familiar waft of briny tinda – Tayyabs must use the canned version too.

I used this recipe from Mamta’s kitchen, although I omitted the potato and used mustard seeds where she suggests a choice between mustard and cumin. Overall I was pleased with the result: a perfect starting point for some experimentation, although I did think the tomato dominated and will reduce that considerably or just add some fresh at the end like Tayyabs do. A crispy onion garnish would also be most welcome. The tinda don’t really have much flavour of their own but are special for being so incredibly thirsty, soaking up the spiced juices which then burst into the mouth at the slightest pressure. Next time, I will tweak the spices and cook it faster at a higher heat, to avoid breaking up the tinda so much. Of course, I’ll need to make a trip to Tayyabs first for research purposes, just to make sure I get that spicing right. What a hardship.

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  • Reply Chris October 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Looks very authentic! And Tayyabs use tinned tinda. Who knew? 🙂

  • Reply Mathilde's Cuisine October 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Brilliant dish! The quality of Indian cuisine is so much better in the UK than in France and Tikka Massala has become one my favourite meals. Will try your recipe soon.

  • Reply Mathilde's Cuisine October 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Oups I meant Tinda Massala and not Tikka!

  • Reply aforkfulofspaghetti October 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Mmm… I could really do with some of that right now!

    Thanks for the recipe heads-up, and for the suggested tweaks – hugely useful for a tinda novice

  • Reply Gary Green October 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Laughing heartily at “sympathy order.” I do that all the time, though I have never heard it described as such – and usually I don’t end up with anything as good as this.

  • Reply Charlotte October 16, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Aha! Good tip. I hadn’t thought to look for tinned tinda. My first and only attempt to replicate Tayyab’s tinda masala using what I thought were fresh tinda was very upsetting. I had spent a few hours researching recipes and had made a delicious sauce, only to render the dish inedible upon adding the “tinda”.

    I still don’t know what the mystery fruit/vegetable was. I bought them from Bangla City on Brick Lane. They were displayed amongst other gourds and they looked like tinda (inside and out), but were labelled as something that didn’t come up when I googled it. I assumed it was just another name, but should have asked because they turned my tasty, spicy sauce into a sour, mushy mess.

  • Reply Lizzie October 16, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I can’t believe I’ve trawled so many markets looking for tinda and they come canned! D’oh

  • Reply Belle and Ward October 16, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    We’ll definitely have to give this a try – good to know that we can use tinned tinda!

  • Reply msmarmitelover October 16, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for this research…I love that dish

  • Reply Nate October 17, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I’ve never heard of Tinda before, and doubt I’d be able to find it in the markets here in Kuching. I wonder what could be a suitable substitute for it. A young, globe eggplant perhaps?

  • Reply Helen @ World Foodie Guide October 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Ooh, this looks better than the Tayyabs version, which I have eaten twice because of you! So that’s what tinda looks like…

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