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Kovakka (Dondakaya/Tindora) Podi Curry

I’m a hardcore fan of south Indian cuisine. I love all the spice combinations and of course, coconuts! You would have already guessed that by the amount of coconuts you see in my recipes 😀 The curry that I’m sharing with you all is my mom’s recipe, with some alterations that I thought would be nice. Podi means powder in Tamil/Telugu. Podi in this recipe refers to the dry spice powder that is used to flavor this curry, a freshly ground dry masala made of toasted coconut and spices. This is a very flavorful curry that pairs wonderfully as a side dish to rice or with rotis. Amma actually makes this with eggplants and raw plantains. We like kovakka, so I’ve used the podi in this curry. You can use this podi to flavor any vegetable curry, especially eggplant, raw plantains, cauliflower, potato, carrot and capsicum. The procedure to cook the vegetable will remain the same, just sprinkle the podi at the end. The podi can also be made in advance and frozen in an air tight container for up to a month.

For those of you who do not know what this vegetable is, its called Ivy Gourd in English. Here is a picture:

(Image courtesy:

This vegetable is called kovakka in Tamil, dondakaya in Telugu and Tindora in Hindi. Its a favorite in our house. Sadly we don’t get fresh kovakka here, but thankfully I get the frozen ones from the Indian grocery store. So if you haven’t tried this veggie yet, do buy a bag next time you visit the grocery store and give this recipe a try. I’ve met very few people who don’t like kovakka. This vegetable is very popular in Andhra Pradesh. There is a very special curry made with dondakaya which is served at the weddings/special occasions. Deep fried dondakaya and cashew nuts or peanuts, sprinkled with some divine spice mix! Its a curry to die for!! I love that curry, but I guess will never attempt making that at home. I already eat too many unwanted calories 😀

Serves 2-4

Kovakka/Dondakaya/Tindora – 1 pond (1/2 kilo, I use frozen)
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) – 1/8 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – a sprig
Tamarind pulp – 1 tsp (optional, tastes nice with eggplants)
Salt – to taste

For the podi (spice powder):

Coriander seeds – 2 Tbsp
Channa dal – 2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (optional)
Dry red chillies – 5-6 no. (or less, to your taste)
Coconut (grated, dry/fresh/frozen) – 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds – 1 Tbsp
Garlic – 2 large cloves (optional)
Curry leaves – a few (optional)
Oil – 1 tsp


For the podi:

  • Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan on low heat and add the dry red chillies, channa dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Roast for about a minute, then add in the garlic cloves, sesame seeds and the coconut. Toast on low heat until the coconut is golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. This might take a little longer if you are using freshly grated coconut.
  • Cool to room temperature and grind into a coarse powder. Keep aside. If you want to save some for later, freeze the podi in an airtight container.

For the curry:

  • Chop the kovakka lengthwise, split each tindora into four.
  • Heat the oil in a pan/kadhai and add in the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add in the curry leaves, turmeric powder and asafoetida.
  • Then add in the sliced/cut kovakka and mix well. Add the tamarind pulp, if using and salt to taste, and cook until tender. You may need to add some water if you are using fresh kovakka. Cook until all the moisture has evaporated.
  • Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the podi, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of podi. Mix well.

Serve as a side dish with rice or roti.

You might also like:

Tomato Pappu (Dal) & Raw Plantain Curry – A south Indian meal

Baingan Bharta – Roasted and Mashed Eggplant Curry

Sambar Avalakki (Poha/Aval) – A light, no-cook snack!

Mixed Vegetable Kurma – A mild vegetable curry with coconut milk

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